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Update on Social Assistance Payments Through the 2014 Holiday Season

Backgrounder

Update on Social Assistance Payments Through the 2014 Holiday Season

Ministry of Community and Social Services

Ontario's monthly social assistance payments provided through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works are on schedule to be issued as usual over the holiday season.

Payment schedules are consistent with the regular December timelines used in past years:

  • December ODSP payments will be issued on December 22, 2014.
  • Ontario Works payments from Toronto offices will be issued on December 19, 2014.
  • Ontario Works payments for offices elsewhere in Ontario will be issued by December 31, 2014. 

To ensure the most timely and accurate December 2014 pay run for Ontario Works and ODSP clients, additional oversight and validation steps have been taken, including early testing and review of the pay-run data.

The Ministry has initiated a range of supports to assist staff and municipal delivery partners, including, but not limited to:

  • A payment hotline, which staff can call to receive support for any specific functional issues they may encounter
  • An email address for access and login issues
  • Job aids and troubleshooting guides
  • Twice-daily communications updates
  • Additional technical assistance help lines.

The Ministry is in daily contact with its municipal service partners and offices to ensure a clear understanding of current issues on the ground and provide additional support that may be required. Ongoing communications have resulted in ongoing improvements to performance issues with the new Social Assistance Management System (SAMS) and better overall performance and usability. The Ministry is prepared to promptly respond to any issues that may arise, as was done with last month's pay run.

IBM/Curam officials continue to support the Ministry with the transition to SAMS and have been sent to local offices to provide additional supports.

The Ministry acknowledges that there have been challenges with implementing and adapting to the new system and would like to thank caseworkers and municipal service partners for their hard work and patience as we continue to resolve issues. 

Ontario Works and ODSP are complex benefit programs for Ontario's most vulnerable citizens. The Ontario government is committed to the transformation of the social assistance system and SAMS implementation is an important step in this process.

SAMS will deliver social assistance programs more efficiently and allow caseworkers to spend more time helping their clients. It will also give clients easy access to their case information through a secure online portal that can be accessed 24 hours a day.

In November 2014, inaccurate payments to about 17,000 households receiving social assistance resulted from a data conversion issue with SAMS. The conversion issue has been fully resolved. Of the 17,000, less than 1 per cent of payments were not caught in time. All of these payments have now been corrected.

Inaccurate payments assigned to about 2,600 closed social assistance files, which resulted from a system error, are still in the process of being resolved with municipal partners. Information from municipalities shows that more than 98 per cent of payments were stopped or immediately recovered. 

A recipient's payment can fluctuate for a variety of reasons, including: changes to an individual's or family's shelter cost, changes to income, late reporting of monthly earnings to the ministry, changes in employment status, changes in family circumstances such as family members leaving or joining the household, and changes in housing arrangements.

Ontario Works and ODSP clients who have questions about these dates or income support payments should contact their caseworker or local social assistance office, as they would with other case-related questions.  

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