10/28/2014 06:09 EDT | Updated 12/28/2014 05:59 EST

Saskatchewan NDP criticizes Lean program after classified ad appears in paper

REGINA - Saskatchewan's Opposition is criticizing the government after a classified ad in a newspaper advertised for Japanese interpreters to assist in a controversial health-care program.

The ad in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix on Oct. 25 said interpreters are wanted on a weekly contract basis for $600 a day to aid Japanese consultants during workshops.

NDP Leader Cam Broten has previously criticized the government's use of Japanese consultants, including Japanese sensei who cost $3,500 a day to teach Lean techniques.

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

"This is unreal and this underscores how completely ridiculous this government's approach is to this Lean pet project that they have going," Broten said.

The Opposition leader has long argued that the Lean program ignores complaints from front-line health workers.

The New Democrats raised concerns during Thursday's question period using a memo written by a health official on behalf of a leadership team.

"The briefing note that we saw today ... (from) extremely qualified people, extremely experienced people who are providing opinions of what Lean is doing to the health-care system in terms of morale, in terms of quality, is shocking,'' said Broten Thursday, adding that the memo should be a "wake-up call."

The briefing note said the experience with the consultants was one of "lack of respect, 'tattling' on leaders if they question, expecting rigid conformity in a militaristic style, gossiping and undermining."

Broten said Tuesday that the Lean approach in Saskatchewan has been "toxic."

"They are giving lip-service to making a few changes and then ... going as strong on it as ever," he said.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan said the government relies on its contract with a private company to provide consultants and the interpreters will work in a specific capacity related to inventory.

"We did ask that we limit the use of the Japanese consultants," Duncan said, adding that the goal is to prevent the waste of products before they expire.

Premier Brad Wall has defended Lean, saying that it has already paid for itself with savings on the design for the new children's hospital in Saskatoon and a new hospital in Moose Jaw.