Government computer crash wreaks havoc for people in need of welfare

(Vancouver) May 7, 2014

Anti-poverty advocates at social justice organizations around the province report that the BC Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation’s computer system has been crashing for much of the last week, and remains mostly offline.   During this time, the Ministry has not been able to provide many of its clients with much-needed services, including shelter and support payments, security deposits, crisis grants, and eligibility assessments for people with an immediate need for welfare.

Advocates view this computer crash as the latest, and most egregious, example of the Integrated Case Management (ICM) computer system’s failure to deliver high quality and efficient services to British Columbians in need.

Kris Sutherland, Manager of Advocacy Services with the Kettle Friendship Society, said that “Many of us view the ICM as an unacceptable institutional barrier to welfare, disentitling people who are unable to navigate the system’s complexities to get needed assistance.”

Sarah Khan, Staff Lawyer with the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre added that “These problems, and the Ministry’s lack of a reliable backup plan, are placing vulnerable welfare recipients in situations where they could lose their housing and the ability to meet their basic needs. This is an unacceptable result from a $211 million expenditure on the ICM.”

In 2012, BC’s Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, found that senior government officials should be held accountable for the “colossal failure” of the ICM.

Advocates are calling on MSDSI Minister Don McCrae to let the public know when the problems with the ICM will be fixed, and to outline a plan for how welfare applicants and clients will be able to access services the next time there are technical problems with the ICM.

For more information, please contact:

Didi Dufresne, First United Church
Ph: 604-681-8365  ext. 105

Sarah Khan, BCPIAC Staff Lawyer
Ph: 604-687-3063

Robin Loxton, BC Coalition of People with Disabilities          Ph: 604-872-1278

Kris Sutherland, Kettle Friendship Society                             Ph: 604-253-7922