Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)

November 16, 2015 15:16 ET

Social assistance workers blast provincial government for failure to deal with computer system's ongoing flaws

System's first anniversary offers no relief for Ontarians relying on social assistance, say frontline workers

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Nov. 16, 2015) - One year on from the introduction of a problem-plagued computer system at Ontario Works, workers across the province continue to hold the Wynne government to account over the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS).

This month, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are once again sounding the alarm on SAMS, which after 12 months is still a source of misery for recipients of social assistance and endless headaches for workers at Ontario Works.

"CUPE members and their clients have lived through a year of turmoil because of SAMS. Any improvements that have been made to the system haven't been enough to allow workers to return to delivering the high-quality services that vulnerable Ontarians need and deserve," said Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, chair of CUPE's Social Service Workers Coordinating Committee (SSWCC).

CUPE representatives have completed surveys about SAMS, provided comment and feedback on its ongoing problems, and participated in the SAMS working group, created by the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

But frontline workers report that their efforts have resulted in too little progress so far and they are determined that SAMS and its ongoing issues will remain top of mind for Dr. Helena Jaczek, the minister responsible for SAMS.

Last Thursday - one full year since the introduction of SAMS at Ontario Works - CUPE members used social media (@cupeontario, #SAMS) to promote Code Red Day, with members wearing red in Ontario Works offices to mark the one-year anniversary of the introduction of SAMS.

Code Red refers to a daily internal status report on SAMS in Ontario Works offices, with Code Red indicating the most urgent and dysfunctional level. Workers report that Code Red is still a regular state for SAMS in their workplaces.

CUPE members will also target the Minister through a postcard campaign (It's Still Code Red for SAMS) from now to the end of the year.

"We have been more than patient," says Poole-Cotnam. "After 12 months of promises from the system's developers, ministry staff and the minister herself, it's time to say once again, SAMS isn't working."

Contact Information

  • Carrie Lynn Poole-Cotnam, Chair,
    CUPE Social Service Workers Coordinating Committee:

    Mary Unan, CUPE Communications:
    905-739-3999 ext. 240
    647-390-9839 (cell)