Chaos grows in social assistance scandal as families face at least 10 more weeks of turmoil: Forster

WELLAND – Cindy Forster, NDP Critic for Community and Social Services, called on the Liberal government to come clean about the chaos caused by SAMS, as an internal memo predicts at least 10 more weeks of turmoil for families and caseworkers.

“The SAMS nightmare keeps getting worse for families on social assistance,” said Forster. “This Liberal government was careless to put the most vulnerable Ontarians at the mercy of unreliable software. Months later and with over $250 million dollars spent, the Liberal government still has no clue how to fix it.”

Forster said this mess has gotten worse with some clients incorrectly receiving case suspensions letters, cancelling their crucial cheques and benefits.  She also said this mess could affect recipients’ income taxes, with front-line staff reporting that the computer problems are impacting the accuracy of T5 statements. Incorrect T5 slips will jeopardize recipients’ funding for medical benefits, GST rebates and other grants and benefits.

“The chaos caused by SAMS is getting worse, not better,” said Forster. “People are being cut-off from social assistance as staff struggle to reverse incorrect suspensions while preparing tax forms that reflect inaccurate overpayments and underpayments. And front-line staff need technicians on-site to fix the computer problems, not a helpline. This is a complete mess.”

Forster said Friday’s internal memo from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to staff reveals nearly a dozen critical flaws plaguing both OW and ODSP province-wide. The memo states that the government only now has an “understanding of the issues and a clear sense of priorities,” despite repeated warnings from frontline staff prior to the roll-out of SAMS in November.
 
Shockingly, the internal memo predicts it will take at least 10 more weeks to address these problems.

“Another 10 weeks of chaos is simply unbearable for struggling families and caseworkers alike,” said Forster. “No one can afford to wait until April for the Liberals to fix problems that should have been avoided in the first place.”