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Faulty software failing Ontario Works, ODSP recipients and case workers

Glitches with new software being used by the Ministry of Community and Social Services is failing Ontario’s recipients of cheques and case workers at the local offices. The benefits problem affected Ontario Disability Support Payment recipients last Friday and the problem continues this week with general welfare cheques out Monday.

“The new SAMS (Social Assistance Management System) system, which failed similar tests in Minnesota and Maryland, has created headaches for recipients, landlords and workers,” said Todd Smith, Prince Edward Hastings MPP.

Front-line workers are dealing with SAMS generating millions of dollars of overpayments and other glitches. Workers are left to attempt to generate cheques manually, correct payments going to incorrect addresses and must now work on getting cheques ready correctly in time for Christmas.

“Social services staff are scrambling because of the government’s rush to bring in this system,” Smith said. “They had warnings from the opposition, from the union and from ministry staff that this same software system had failed in other jurisdictions.”

In the meantime, staff have access to the information in the old software system but are unable to make changes. So far, local caseworkers have had little or no communication with the ministry to correct the problem leaving these caseworkers to worry that the same errors with this month’s pay run will be repeated with next month’s cheques and direct deposits.

“We’ve had problems with landlords who’ve had stop orders put on direct deposits; we’ve had problems with overpayments being recalled leaving recipients without money and many others,” Smith continued. “This system also only allows for one “pay direct” which may cause many recipients to miss hydro, gas and water bill payments.”

“My worry is that this will happen again next month.” Smith concluded. “Too often with this government, screw ups are covered up, no one is held accountable and a lot of money is spent without enough service being delivered. Too little support is being given to our front line staff and, as a result, the government is putting some very vulnerable people at risk.”

Filed Under: Local News

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