John Black LEAN book accuses Sask. of "racist overtones"

By Sarah Mills
May 11, 2016 - 6:06pm

The man who brought the province LEAN is not cutting down his thoughts on his time in Saskatchewan.

In his book “The Toyota Way to Healthcare Excellence”, Black wrote that the government was at best "nationalist".

In 2011, the province signed a four-year, $40 million contract with John Black and Associates (JBA) to introduce the cost-cutting system to health care. That contract was eventually cut short by a few months.

Black writes about the criticism his LEAN system faced both politically, by the NDP and health care unions, and in the media, describing it "as a political football".

He also makes the suggestion that a request by the province to not use his Japanese team members "carried racist overtones".

"No other client in JBA's history has ever singled out any of our consultants based on gender, race, ethnicity, or nationality," Black wrote.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan jokes that he has only scanned the book, although he isn't happy with the accusation made by Black.

Duncan admits they requested some adjustments to the contract in response to the "concerns and criticisms we heard". But he insists that request was based on cost, not where any of the LEAN consultants came from.

"Was there an opportunity because he had consultants based in Seattle, Houston, Florida and some other places - which had a little bit of a smaller cost than flying someone overseas - could he accommodate us in those requests as much as possible?”

Black documents in his book that he only charged the province a flat rate of $2,000 (U.S.) round-trip for each of the four Japanese team members.

 "The political attacks - in stark contrast to the traditional Canadian preference for polite, non-confrontational communication - certainly didn't help resolve any disagreements," wrote Black.

The provincial government remains committed to using LEAN methods in health care, but with a made-in Saskatchewan based approach.


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