11/06/2014 01:34 EST | Updated 01/06/2015 05:59 EST

Saskatchewan Opposition continues to criticize Lean health-care program

REGINA - Saskatchewan's Opposition says an arm's-length health agency is being used by the government to focus on public relations related to the Lean cost-cutting program.

The province is paying $40 million over four years for Lean consultants, who are looking for ways to reduce spending and improve efficiency in health care.

NDP Leader Cam Broten cited a memo about the Health Quality Council, which is supposed to evaluate Saskatchewan health care and make recommendations for improvement.

Broten says the council took on a communications role to promote Lean, which he says affects the council's ability to offer criticism and complete other tasks.

Health Minister Dustin Duncan says the council wasn't pushed into the communications role and it doesn't influence the group's mandate or work.

Broten says the government's health ministry should be responsible for public relations related to Lean, so that the council can provide objective feedback.

The Opposition has long criticized the Lean program, arguing that it ignores concerns from front-line workers.

Premier Brad Wall has said 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.