08/30/2012 05:26 EDT | Updated 10/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Saskatchewan hires U.S.-based health consultants for $9.5 million to save money

REGINA - The Saskatchewan government is hiring a U.S. consulting firm to tell the province how to eliminate waste in its health-care system.

The Ministry of Health has signed a contract with consultants John Black and Associates for $9.5 million this year, with an option to renew for the next three years.

The ministry says the cost of the contract reflects the size, scale and complexity of the health system.

Health care is a big expense for Saskatchewan, costing $4.7 billion per year, nearly 42 per cent of the provincial budget.

The Saskatoon Health Region is already working with the consultants on the design for the Children's Hospital of Saskatchewan.

The goal is to both improve health care and save money.