More than 120 staff have been hired solely to promote the John Black Lean program in Saskatchewan, costing taxpayers tens of millions in salaries alone.
In addition to 97.6 full-time staff in the 12 Kaizen Promotion Offices in the health regions and the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency, there are at least four full-time Lean specialists in the Health Ministry, five in eHealth and at least another 17 devoted exclusively to Lean promotion in the Provincial Kaizen Promotion Office.
That doesn’t include the Kaizen Operations Team staff within hospitals and seniors care homes. It also doesn’t include Lean staff at the Kaizen Promotion Offices in 3S Health.
“Talk about messed up priorities – the Sask. Party is still shovelling tens of millions of dollars every year into promoting the John Black Lean program,” said NDP Leader Cam Broten. “At the same time, they’re eliminating 150 hands-on health care jobs in the Regina area alone and cutting the number of surgeries throughout Saskatchewan this year.
“I want more health care professionals in our emergency rooms to shorten wait times, not more Lean consultants sitting behind desks. I want more care aides on each shift to look after seniors, not more kaizen promotion workers leading Lean seminars where they fold paper airplanes. There are countless ways this money could be better used – especially at a time when the Sask. Party says their deficit budget is forcing them to make cuts to health care.”
Stories of understaffing in health facilities continue to mount, from long waits in overcrowded hospitals to seniors not getting the care they need. In 2014, registered nurses filed 868 work situation reports to identify situations like patients or residents being put in danger or not getting the care they need. In more than 700 of those cases, staffing concerns were the problem.
The Kaizen Promotion Offices have three main functions according to government websites. They provide planning and strategic direction for the organization; they provide the rules and tools of running kaizen events - making sure that all the events are run in the same way; and they provide support for training and certification for all Lean events.
The 97 Kaizen Promotion Office employees are paid a total of about $11 million, according to government responses to written questions filed by the NDP in the legislature. That doesn’t include the cost of the offices or their activities.
Untold millions more are associated with Kaizen Operations Team members throughout health facilities and Lean staff within the Ministry of Health, eHealth, 3S Health and the Provincial Kaizen Promotion Office.
“Health care workers, patients and common sense Saskatchewan people have been pretty clear that John Black Lean is toxic in a health care environment, and it's often utter nonsense,” said Cam Broten. “Failing to listen to patients and health care workers is literally resulting in tens of millions per year that is harmful to patient care and staff engagement. We simply can’t afford more years of blindly throwing money into the Lean money pit.”