Ontario spends another $5M on problematic social assistance payment system

Helena Jaczek, Ontario's Minister for Community and Social Services is surrounded by the media following question period at Queen's Park Legislature in Toronto on Monday December 1, 2014. A glitch with social assistance transfers was found to have queued up $20 million in overpayments. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – The problem-plagued rollout of a system used for social assistance payments in Ontario is costing the province another $5 million.

Since late last year, the new $240-million Social Assistance Management System has been experiencing issues, notably queuing up $20 million in welfare and disability support overpayments in December.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents caseworkers, and the opposition parties, says others who depend on social assistance got far less than normal or didn’t get any payment at all.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services now says it is providing $5 million in one-time funding to Ontario Works municipal service delivery partners to help with costs such as staff overtime and backfill from dealing with SAMS.

The ministry says additional funding comes from its existing social assistance administration budget.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers was selected earlier this month as an independent adviser to help with SAMS and is expected to provide an interim report by the end of March.

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