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Cost of problem-plagued computer that administers welfare soars to $294 million

TORONTO — Ontario has to shell out another $23 million to fix problems with its Social Assistance Management System, raising the total cost of the computer program that administers welfare and disability payments to $294 million.

Social Assistance Minister Helena Jacek says the additional costs come from implementing 19 recommendations from a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, which called for more training for frontline staff who work with recipients.

She says the additional costs include $15.7 million to hire more IT staff at the ministry and for training for social assistance case workers.

The original tab for the problem-plagued computer system developed by IBM was $242 million, but it kept growing as problems arose with cheques sent to clients.

The province also had to give municipalities an additional $10 million to cover overtime pay for staff who were dealing with upset recipients.

At one point last December, just a month after it went online, the SAMS system queued up $20 million in overpayments for people living on social assistance.

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The Canadian Press

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