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Statement by OPSEU President Smokey Thomas on one-year anniversary of the Social Assistance Management System debacle

Following is a statement by Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas:

Today (Nov. 12) marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of the fiasco known as the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS).

When it was put into operation in November 2014, SAMS was an unmitigated disaster. Its inefficiencies, errors and poor design severely undermined the efforts of frontline workers to provide high-quality service to social assistance recipients and their families.  The system frequently short-changed many recipients with too little money or none at all.

The technical problems with SAMS have been well documented in the media. The government has spent tens of millions of additional dollars trying to make the system functional.  Despite the reduced media coverage in the past 4-5 months, SAMS continues to be a major source of frustration for workers and social assistance recipients. OPSEU members still regularly report defects and experience program outages.

I want to thank the frontline OPSEU members who work in the Ontario Works (OW), Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and the Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities Program (ACSD). Their tireless efforts over the past year to navigate this botched computer system and minimize the harm to their clients have been nothing short of heroic.

In a recent report, the Ministry of Community and Social Services indicated that SAMS has cost $300 million to date. The Auditor General is conducting a value-for-money audit of SAMS which will be included in her next annual report.  I suspect she will conclude that SAMS is yet another private sector boondoggle that costs more and delivers less.

Related: SAMS Index Page