Today, Percy Hatfield, Ontario NDP Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing, called the government out for ignoring massive problems with its new Social Assistance software (SAMS), following yesterday’s damning Auditor General’s report.
“Our most vulnerable neighbours rely on social assistance. The government knew that there were problems with the SAMS system, but they went ahead and launched it anyway,” said Hatfield. “The Auditor showed that there are still more than 770 problems with the SAMS system over a year later. Helping the vulnerable is one of the fundamentals that any government should be able to get right.”
Over 900,000 were affected by problems with the SAMS system, which led to people receiving incorrect payments. The system has already ballooned in cost from $200 million to $290 million. Yesterday, following the Auditor’s report and despite the serious defects of the SAMS system being front-page news in the past, the Minister claimed she did not know about the problems.
“For the Minister to deny she knew what was happening with SAMS is shocking. The Auditor’s report shows the Ministry knew about the problems with SAMS before they launched it, during the launch, and frontline staff have been dealing with the problems for over a year now. The Minister should be getting briefed on this regularly, and she should have a laser-focus on fixing the problems immediately,” said Hatfield. “All people ask is that people on social assistance get their benefits in the correct amount and on time. That’s a pretty basic function of a government. That’s a fundamental, but this government’s priorities are so backward they’re getting even these basics wrong.”