BUSINESS

Another 2,600 Social Assistance Cheques Sent In Error

12/10/2014 05:44 EST | Updated 02/09/2015 05:59 EST
The same government computer system that last month mistakenly paid out millions of dollars in social assistance has issued another 2,600 cheques in error, according to Ontario's Ministry of Community and Social Services. 

Officials say the latest payments went out to people whose accounts are closed. 

The province says 98 per cent of those payments were reversed but those blowing the whistle about the new Social Assistance Management System (SAMS), which rolled out early last month, say more problems are appearing daily. 

The ministry is in "crisis management mode," over SAMS, according to Dylan Lineger, president of OPSEU local 410, "and you shouldn't be in crisis management for over a month and a half."

"The problem was that so few tasks were being accomplished when the system was first rolling out that more problems are being identified every single day," Lineger told CBC News. 

Last month at least 17,000 payments were generated erroneously, totalling $20 million. The government claimed two-thirds of those payments never made it into anyone's bank account. But around $7 million was mistakenly paid out in direct deposit or cheques in the mail.

Roughly 36,000 Ontario families — between four and five per cent of the 800,000 that draw some sort of social assistance — have not received the correct payments because of the recent problems, according to Linegar. 

"Whether that's too much or too little we have to check out," he said. 

In a statement the ministry said officials "are working to put in place additional safeguards to prevent future problems."

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