“Whoever designed the system was certainly not putting clients’ and workers’ needs first. Sadly, those who will be the most disadvantaged by this will be the ones who have the least ability to protect themselves." — Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President.
Toronto (06 Nov. 2014) — Ontario’s new caseload management system for recipients of provincial disability assistance will increase wait times, result in more underpayments/overpayments, and could result in payment suspensions for qualified individuals.
New caseload management system in Ontario will degrade service to clients
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) which represents caseworkers at the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), says the new computer system that will be implemented on November 12 will actually degrade service to clients whose lives depend on it.
“The government has spent four years and $250 million dollars on a system that is less reliable, makes it more difficult to add information, and results in workers spending less time with clients and more time doing repetitive data entry,” Thomas said. “This amount of time and money should improve services, not make them worse.”
Poor training, short staffing and increased workload will put additional stress on the system but government ignores concerns
Thomas went on to say that caseworkers and support staff have not been adequately trained on the new system, and the additional workload will cause significant stress on a service that is already understaffed to begin with. “Our members have not been given the tools to succeed with the new Social Assistance Management System. Many of the training sessions were either filled with technical errors or provided irrelevant information. Most were expected to learn the system on their own time.”
Thomas cites one instance where it would take 73 separate computer actions just to add a dependent child on a client’s file.
“Instead of meeting with clients to address their needs and concerns, they will spend the majority of their time inputting data into an unwieldy and unfriendly computer system,” Thomas said. “We have written to the Minister and had multiple meetings to address the shortcomings, most of which have fallen on deaf ears,” Thomas said. “Whoever designed the system was certainly not putting clients’ and workers’ needs first. Sadly, those who will be the most disadvantaged by this will be the ones who have the least ability to protect themselves. Our members will do their best to help, but will likely find themselves mired in a system designed by programmers and implemented by bureaucrats."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE