NDP says no to John Black-style Lean consultant for education

The government is planning to hire yet another pricey consultant, this time to have the toxic Lean program sweep through education and other government sectors. The NDP is calling for that plan to be scrapped immediately.

A Request for Proposal (RFP) to hire a Lean consultant in education and other areas of government was posted by the Sask. Party this week. Specifically, the government writes, it wants a Lean consultant that aligns with the current Lean beliefs of the government – driven by the controversial and toxic program brought in to health care by $40-million American consultant John Black.

The RFP calls for 425 workers to take Lean training in the first year alone.

“There are deep cuts being made in classrooms. There are teachers, librarians, educational assistants and other staff that won’t be returning in the fall because the Sask. Party government claims Saskatchewan can’t afford them. Classrooms often have 30 or more kids. Many schools are in disrepair, or even crumbling, and have asbestos that the government isn’t fixing,” said NDP deputy leader Trent Wotherspoon. “This government is choosing a multi-million dollar Lean consultant over the basic investments our children need – that’s a disturbingly misplaced priority.”

The RFP calls for about a one-year contract that could be extended to up to three years. In just the first year, the government plans to put about 425 people working for government, school divisions and post-secondary schools through Lean training. The consultants will also be paid to put Lean methods into education throughout the sector as well as other government departments, and to advise next spring on whether or not further Lean consulting work is needed.

In addition to the misplaced spending priority, Wotherspoon said the Lean method, an efficiency scheme designed to make workers work faster on car manufacturing assembly lines in Japan, is not appropriate for education.

“You can recall a car if Lean causes problems – but you can’t recall a child. We have one chance to get it right,” said Wotherspoon. “Not only is hiring more Lean consultants a terrible waste of money, it’s a terrible idea to introduce that kind of toxic environment to education.”

In health care, nurses are being followed around by Lean specialists who use stopwatches to time their steps, washroom breaks and their work at patients’ bedsides. All health care workers including doctors and nurses take time away from patients to sit through Lean workshops in which they learn Japanese-inspired terminology to use at work. A litany of surveys show health care workers are disengaged and believe patient safety is put at risk as a result of the program.

Lean in health care is ongoing, costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars every year.

Overall, the Sask. Party has increased government spending on consultants by 228 per cent, now over $120 million every year. The provincial auditor says with 70 per cent of those consultants, the government has no explanation for why a consultant was hired; and 90 per cent of the time, the consultant doesn’t actually report to anyone. 

Read the new Lean RFP here.