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Saskatchewan NDP leader says healthcare lean program is cult like

Premier Brad Wall calls on Broten to apologize for comments that go too far.

March 18, 2014   by CANADIAN PRESS

REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says Opposition NDP Leader Cam Broten should apologize for suggesting that people who support lean programs are like cult members.

The province is paying $40 million over four years for lean consultants, who look for ways to reduce spending and streamline health care.

Broten notes that the province paid $3,500 a day for Japanese sensei to teach lean techniques and he’s questioning why the program includes Japanese cultural training. Broten also says workers are flooding his e-mail with their opinions.

“Healthcare workers are afraid to speak up, are afraid to voice their concerns,” said Broten.

“And what I said last week was that in looking at the Twitter feeds of someone in the health system who championed this in a big way, I said the language and the approach that they used, it’s like they’re in a cult – and I’m not the only one saying that.”

But the premier says lean has already paid for itself with savings on the design for a new children’s hospital in Saskatoon and a new hospital in Moose Jaw. The government also says $35 million has been saved on better management of blood and plasma products.

Wall says lean is getting support from patients and health-care professionals.

The premier argues Broten’s comments about a cult go too far and says he hasn’t heard from anyone who is upset with the program.

“I’m not demanding an apology from the staff if they have concerns,” said Wall.
“But when the leader of the Opposition characterizes everybody who supports this as being cult-like, I think that’s a problem. I don’t think that helps the debate, especially when you kind of have it both ways: ‘Well, I do support Lean, just not this and this is a cult.’ That’s a pretty big shark to jump for the leader of the Opposition.”

Lean was originally created in the manufacturing sector, but has since been applied to many other sectors and industries.

Saskatchewan is the first jurisdiction in Canada to apply the Lean program across its entire health system.

© 2014 The Canadian Press


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