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Ontario’s welfare caseload computer system is a disaster – Thomas

We the North
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TORONTO – The latest $5 million “one-time-only” bailout for the province’s welfare computer program should be the final nail in its coffin, said Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“The hits just keep on coming: First $3 million in early December, $5 million later in December, another $5 million in January, and now another $5 million. That’s on top of the $242 million we paid for the clunker in the first place.

“And this isn’t money being spent to correct the problems with the system. This is money to partially compensate municipalities for their overtime, training and other costs associated with trying to make the darned thing work. I have no idea what they are paying IBM for the work of trying to correct the mess,” he said.

“We have poured millions of taxpayers’ dollars into a system that is creating real hardship for people who depend on social assistance, and that is causing untold stress on the front-line workers charged with making the thing work. At a certain point, we should cut our losses and move on.”

Thomas said the complaints about the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS) were coming from every imaginable direction: from the clients whose cheques are too large, too small, or non-existent; from the municipalities trying to operate the program to serve their citizens; from the staff who are struggling to support their clients. “It’s just a disaster.”