Ontario Releases Social Assistance Management System Transition Plan
Plan Implementation to be Complete By Spring 2016
Ontario has released a transition plan to address all outstanding issues related to the initial launch of the province's Social Assistance Management System (SAMS).
The transition plan was developed with the advice of municipalities, unions and front-line staff. It addresses all 19 recommendations identified in an independent report released by PwC earlier this year.
Since the release of its independent report, PwC has completed an additional follow-up assessment. PwC has found that:
- The transition plan reflects the 19 recommendations from the earlier PwC report and positions the province to deliver an effective case management tool that supports clients’ complex and changing needs
- Partners including front-line staff and managers have noted that SAMS has stabilized and performance slowdowns have been reduced
- Steps the province has taken to date have had a positive impact on the SAMS transition, including increased staff training
- The province has implemented more clearly defined timelines, deliverables and measurements to ensure progress
- Partners have seen marked improvement in communications and engagement from the province, and recognize that improvements will be ongoing.
In collaboration with its union, service delivery and front-line partners, the province has already made progress on the transition plan, with all 19 recommendations, as well as additional suggestions identified in PwC’s follow-up assessment, underway, scheduled or fully implemented.The province also continues to work with its front-line staff, service delivery and union partners to ensure early identification of, and rapid response to, any emerging issues.
- The total development and implementation costs of SAMS after completion of the transition plan are approximately $294 million, which is $451 million less than the development and implementation costs of its predecessor, Service Delivery Model Technology (SDMT), in 2015 dollars.
- The total cost includes an additional $15.7 million more than was reported in January for transition costs such as IT staffing and support, as well as temporary front-line staffing support.
- Also included in the total cost is an additional $5 million that was provided to support service delivery partners in March. The province continues to work with its municipal service delivery partners to assess and meet their needs.
- Ontario has completed more than 90 per cent of the 57 priority tasks identified by the provincial Technical Working Group, which is a group of key stakeholder representatives that prioritizes and suggests technical improvements to SAMS functionality.
- SAMS has successfully processed seven million payments for nearly 900,000 social assistance clients since it was implemented in 2014.
- Technical issues that caused overpayments in late 2014 have been fixed.
“Guided by the PwC report, our delivery partners, front-line staff and project team have put us on the right track. Thanks to their dedication, we will continue to work towards achieving the goals of the transition plan. Ontarians will ultimately be able to realize the tremendous value of SAMS in helping to deliver improved client services that were not possible without 21st century technology.”
“The integrated plan does reflect the 19 recommendations from the April PwC report and will position the ministry to achieve its desired objectives of business recovery. The ministry has put into place greater structure and discipline to guide transition activities. This is greatly appreciated by stakeholders.”
PwC’s “Health Check” follow-up assessment
“I can say that in terms of SAMS, we are in a much better place today. This is due, in large part, to the province making a concerted effort to work with OMSSA, our members and the sector on getting SAMS right. As partners, we are both committed to doing what is best for Ontario’s most vulnerable. We look forward to continuing this partnership in our efforts to find the best way forward for our clients and OMSSA members.”
“While the initial transition to SAMS had significant challenges, I have noticed a substantial positive change in supports for front-line staff such as the helpline, improvements to functionality in SAMS, gains in front-line staff knowledge as a result of training provided, and a significant improvement in staff morale since the implementation of the SAMS Social Assistance Integrated Transition Plan.”