POLITICS

Cam Broten Picks Fight With Government's Coffee Instructions

01/09/2015 12:11 EST | Updated 03/11/2015 05:59 EDT
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REGINA - Saskatchewan's Opposition says a document that gives health workers step-by-step instructions on how to brew a pot of coffee is disrespectful and silly.

It's the latest criticism of the government's contract with a U.S. company hired to help streamline health services under a program called Lean.

The Opposition has long said the $40-million contract with John Black and Associates has muddled priorities and fails to improve the province's standards.

NDP Leader Cam Broten suggested the document — which was posted near the coffee machine in the Heath Quality Council offices and outlines eight steps to make filtered coffee — demonstrates how trivial the program is.

"Making coffee is a very straightforward simple task that ... people know how to do," he said. "(It) speaks to the broader problem with this version of Lean where it's about standardizing everything and not letting people use their common sense.

"Moreover, if you look at the instructions that are provided, they've been revised and updated. This is not some random, one-off thing."

Gary Teare, acting CEO of the Health Quality Council, said he believes there's been a misunderstanding about the coffee-making instructions.

Teare said the instructions include the logo from John Black and Associates because it's a template standardized for the health-care system. He added that the consultant didn't provide the instructions.

"It's almost like it's the wallpaper now," he said. "I don't even know that people notice JBA on there."

Specific instructions start with placing a carafe below the filter basket and conclude by reminding staff to "empty the used filter and coffee grinds into the garbage can, and prepare a new filter/coffee for the next carafe."

"We rotate this duty around our staff," Teare said. "It helps to have instructions up there so it's clear... that's no different than you'd find with many work places."

The government has said the contract with the consulting company is ending in March. It was set to expire in June, with an option to extend it to September.

The Opposition has also criticized the contract for a projected $2.7 million in consultants' travel costs between July 2014 and November 2015. The government also paid the company $85,000 to pitch its services before signing the contract in 2012.

Premier Brad Wall has said the Lean program has been successful and already paid for itself with savings on the design for the new children's hospital in Saskatoon and a new hospital in Moose Jaw.

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