May 7, 2014 12:18 am

Government software glitch delaying assistance for British Columbians

WATCH: A multi-million dollar computer system – used by a number of provincial government ministries – has been crashing all week. And as Grace Ke reports, it’s preventing some people from getting the help they need.

A government computer crash is delaying people across B.C. from getting the help they need.

The Integrated Case Management software used by various ministries is experiencing “intermittent slowdowns,” according to a government spokesperson.

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The system cost the government $182 million to implement two years ago, and was criticized by the NDP and child welfare watchdog Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond for having problems when it rolled out. It allows the Ministries of Social Development, Children and Family, and Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services to share information and provide better integrated services to British Columbians in need.

However, many people have said the glitch is preventing those same people from getting critical help.

“They say they’re going through a computer changeover, and there’s a delay. But they can’t say what the delay is or when it’ll be fixed,” says John van der Molen, a former tow truck driver.

Van der Molen is on long-term disability due to chronic back pain. He says he’s been applied for a new classification that would help pay for his overdue utility bills. But he says the Ministry office can’t consider his case until they can access his profile – and that won’t happen until the glitch is fixed.

“I get that there’s a process, and I’m good with that,” says Van der Molen.

“But when you’re showing somebody your bill, and you’re truly desperate, and all you’re told for an entire week is the system is locked up…How much longer am I going to wait?”

The government says that all income and disability assistance cheques have gone out for the month of May, and that ministries can provide emergency services to people in crisis, including providing grocery cards, overnight shelters, or referrals to other community agencies.

Van der Molen says additional help can’t come soon enough.

“In the 20 minutes I was at the office today, I saw half a dozen people walk out with real sad faces. Some holding babies in their arms,” he said.

“I get their hands are tied, but somewhere somebody’s got to know something.”

WATCH: Children’s Advocate Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond addresses some of the risks B.C. kids face with this computer glitch

© Shaw Media, 2014

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