[TORONTO] – The Minister of Community and Social Services continues to dodge responsibility for the failed roll-out of the deeply flawed Social Assistance Management System (SAMS), president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, Warren (Smokey) Thomas said today.
SAMS has been an absolute nightmare for recipients of provincial and municipal social assistance. Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek has continuously downplayed the severity of the problems created by SAMS, likening technical issues to a “glitch” or her Blackberry needing a refresh.
At a press conference this morning, Jaczek went as far as to say that the repeated warnings of front-line workers only went to SAMS project staff and did not get to her.
“Her position is completely deceitful” said Thomas “On July 11, 2014, exactly four months prior to the day SAMS was launched on November 11, CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn and I jointly wrote to Minister Jaczek to express our deep concerns with the SAMS software.”
“Our members’ experience with the new case management system has not been positive. It has poor data functionality; it takes longer to complete routine transactions, and requires duplications of data entry that take much precious time,” said Thomas and Hahn in their letter of July 11, 2014,
“Our members firmly believe that unless improvements are made to SAMS, the launch in late fall will be rife with problems and delays and poor service to the recipients we work with.”
“One month later the minister wrote to us to assure us SAMS was on track and would offer valuable improvements for front-line workers and social assistance recipients,” said Thomas.
“My ministry has developed a standard approach to site readiness that defines key change management activities which, with the support from my staff, will help ensure front line staff are ready,” said Minister Helena Jaczek in her reply of August 13, 2014.
“Despite the jargon,” said Thomas “the minister made it clear that SAMS would be ready to go and staff would be trained and comfortable with the software prior to its launch. Now PwC has found that SAMS was not ready, and the ministry failed to provide staff with the right kind of training, something the minister has publically acknowledged.”
Thomas repeated his call that Premier Wynne fire Jaczek immediately.
“It seems to me that the minister is having some difficulty acknowledging her own culpability in this boondoggle. I think it’s time she be held accountable for failures in oversight that occurred on her watch,” said Thomas.
“It’s time somebody other than vulnerable social assistance recipients and front-line workers bore the brunt of the disaster that SAMS introduced into our social assistance programs.”
For more Information:
Warren (Smokey) Thomas (613) 329-1931