Since its implementation in November 2015, the provincial Social Assistance Management System (SAMS) has proved problematic for municipal governments and District Social Service Administration Boards (DSSABs) in delivering social assistance benefits.

Several months into the implementation of the new system, the Ministry of Community and Social Services announced plans to commission an independent, third party advisor to assess the Ministry‘s response to SAMS and to provide recommendations on go-forward actions to return the system to a steady state of operations. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was selected as the advisor.

Minister Helena Jaczek committed to publicly disseminate the final report of the advisor.  It is now posted on the Ministry website:  Final Report on Social Assistance Management System (SAMS).

In the report, the advisor noted that municipalities and DSSABs “actively responded to the challenges associated with SAMS while maintaining a strong focus on client service delivery”.  Further, PwC noted that in “many cases, front line staff have placed their client needs ahead of their own and have taken actions to reduce the impact of SAMS on service delivery”.

The advisor made 19 recommendations on go-forward actions that the Ministry should take. Recommendations were made in the areas of:

  • planning and governance
  • change management and stakeholder engagement
  • technology
  • process.
The recommendations include that the Ministry should appoint a provincial Program Manager, establish an integrated transition plan, and work more with municipal and DSSAB partners to return to a steady state of business operations.

The government has not yet stated how it will proceed from this point given the recommendations.  However, it is expected that AMO and other municipal sector organizations will be engaged in the discussions going forward.
AMO’s position is that the government must expend the necessary resources to fix the problems associated with the implementation of SAMS and continue to reimburse municipalities and DSSABs for all ongoing costs until all short and long-term problems are resolved.  The advisor’s report and recommendations are silent on the issue of reimbursement of costs to municipalities and DSSABs.

AMO will continue to monitor the situation and work with the Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA) and the Northern Ontario Service Deliverers Association (NOSDA) in order to assess the ongoing impacts of SAMS on social assistance operations.
To view previous correspondence from AMO’s President to the Minister concerning SAMS, please download letters on right side.
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