What is SAMS?

SAMS or the Social Assistance Management System is the new software program being used by social services agencies, such as Ontario Works (OW) and Ontario Disability Support Program), across Ontario . These are vital services provided by the Province and municipalities.

Since the introduction of this QUARTER BILLION DOLLAR software in late 2014, havoc has been the best way to describe the impact this program has had on both the recipients and the dedicated staff who now use the program. It is understandable that a new program of this size and complexity will have some technical issues from time to time. However, this program has characteristics that make it fundamentally flawed and perhaps even unsafe to use.

Workers describe once simple tasks, completed with minimal mouse clicking in the old software, now require double or more mouse clicking to complete the same tasks. The process takes much longer and the risk potential for RSI’s (Repetitive Strain Injuries) are now much higher.

CUPE Local 543, CUPE Ontario, and CUPE National have grave concerns about the impact this is having on those recipients in need, who are amongst the most vulnerable in our society. Stories of recipients not receiving their social assistance benefit are as equally disturbing as the stories of people, who are not OW or ODSP clients, receiving large unsolicited payments.

As for the workers, many of whom are CUPE members, we are no less concerned. For these members/workers, who have dedicated their lives to helping those in need, it has been an especially emotional and difficult time. Our members know the impact that a missed or incorrect payment as on their clients and their clients families. Our social services members work in an extremely stressful and high pressure environment in the best of times. Now, stories of OW workers crying at their desk, feeling helpless to service their clients properly, is not uncommon.

This is the impact of one software program. A program that cost taxpayers ONE QUARTER BILLION DOLLARS. How did we get to this juncture? Where is the accountability? How is it possible that this program was the best put forward by a vendor? Please use the link below to contact your MPP, the Minister responsible, and the premier to ask those very questions and to make your concerns known.

To access more information on SAMS please click on the media and CUPE links.


CUPE Ontario SAMS Resource Page

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)