In a March 2 letter to Kathleen Wynne, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas calls on the premier to fire Helena Jaczek, minister of community and social services, for her mishandling of the SAMS breakdown.
March 2, 2015
Kathleen Wynne, Premier
Dear Premier Wynne,
On February 20 the Ottawa Sun published a story in which Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek expressed doubt that the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS) breakdown could be called a “disaster.”
To the thousands of ODSP and OW recipients for whom the breakdown presented financial duress over the holiday season, SAMS has been a disaster. For many, problems continue to this day.
The Minister’s response to the Sun typifies her approach to SAMS from the beginning when she and her senior officials disregarded the warnings of frontline staff who signaled that the computer system was not yet functional. Rather than heed their warnings, the Ministry forged ahead and launched a flawed system. Four months on, problems still persist.
Ms Jaczek and the Ministry have repeatedly failed to deliver adequate and reliable benefits for ODSP and OW recipients and their families. These are individuals who, through no fault of their own, often find themselves marginalized. Many struggle to build decent lives where they can make a meaningful contribution to our province. Neither you nor I can imagine what it might be like to walk a day in their shoes.
But instead of compassion and support from the Minister, they experience the sting of her back hand. By minimizing the impact the SAMS failure has had on thousands of families, Ms Jaczek insults them.
Ministers of the Crown bear a heavy responsibility to deliver services for the public good. In the case of the SAMS mess Ms Jaczek has demonstrably failed to do so. I call on you to remove the Minister from Cabinet immediately.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Interim Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
Leader, Ontario New Democratic Party
PC Critic, Ministry of Community and Social Services
ND ritic, Ministry of Community and Social Service
Pesident, Association of Municipalities of Ontario