06/06/2012 07:19 EDT | Updated 08/06/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. government computer bugs plaguing staff

B.C. social workers say a new computer system that handles thousands of files for the ministries of Social Development and Children and Family Development is plagued with problems and wasting valuable time.

The $180-million Integrated Case Management System is designed to enable social ministries to share information, but an internal document obtained by the NDP says the system is prone to breakdowns and is almost impossible to use.

"People should be worried because it's not simply information. It's not simply data that we're talking about here. These are vulnerable children," said MLA Carole James.

Employees say they sometimes have to take hours to enter data or search clients' history, but information can get lost or even shredded in the process.

"The computer system is driving their work rather than the safety of children driving their work," said Doug Kinna, who heads the unit of the B.C. Government Employees Union that represents social workers.

Kinna said he believes the system itself, not just a lack of training, is the problem.

The Minister for Children and Family Development, Mary McNeil, said she's heard the complaints, but she's confident they can be addressed.

"I totally understand peoples' frustration. I get frustrated myself when I change certain things," said McNeil. "We're addressing some of the individual concerns."

McNeil said the new system, launched just two months ago, is designed to replace 64 different data bases.