Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wynne Says Computer Glitch Responsible for Sending out Erroneous Welfare Cheques

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Wynne Says Computer Glitch Responsible for Sending out Erroneous Welfare Cheques

Article excerpt

Wynne blames computer glitch for bad cheques

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TORONTO - A computer foul-up that had the Ontario government scrambling to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in overpayments to people on welfare and disability supports was just a "glitch," Premier Kathleen Wynne said Monday.

"There was a glitch and within 24 hours most of the problems were rectified," said Wynne. "There's a small number of cheques still being dealt with."

The problem stemmed from the new $240-million Social Assistance Management System (SAMS), which last week erroneously queued up $20 million in welfare and disability support overpayments.

"As I understand it, 99 per cent of those situations have been rectified where there was a problem," said Wynne. "Just over 100 cheques are still being corrected."

There were overpayments to about 17,000 people that averaged $1,100 each, but most were direct deposits and easily fixed, said Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek. The government is still trying to contact 119 people who got overpayments, but the minister couldn't say how much money was involved at this point.

"I'm afraid I don't have that exact figure," said Jaczek.

A spokeswoman for the minister said on the weekend that about $300,000 in mistaken payments had yet to be retrieved.

During question period, interim Progressive Conservative Leader Jim Wilson accused Wynne of downplaying problems with the overpayments and of ignoring warnings from government workers that the new system was too complicated and would not be ready to go online this fall.

"I don't believe you, and I don't think anyone believes, that 99 per cent of the problem is fixed at this point," said Wilson. "Why did you buy an expensive program that doesn't appear to work from the get-go, and why are you moving forward to defend this when it's just going to turn out to be another Liberal scandal? …

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