Fed up gov’t social workers reverting to paper


VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The recent crash of computers used by the people tasked with looking after BC’s most vulnerable children is once again highlighting the problems with a system that was supposed to revolutionize record-keeping at the Ministry of Children and Families.

Ministry social workers are said to be so sick of the glitches, they’re now resorting to more primitive methods of doing their jobs.

“We’re going back to a paper system,” says Paul Houle of the BCGEU, the union representing the workers. “This is where we’ve landed after two years.”

He says there’s so much distrust with the Integrated Case Management system that went online in 2012, they’re no longer relying on it.

“Staff know better. They know that you’ve got to have a paper file. Those records are needed in the court. The court is not going to accept things that are printed off a computer program that are not even in the right format.”

Plus, social workers have noticed information that was once entered into the system is sometimes irretrievable.

“Another thing that is quite astounding is here, you think you’ve saved something, and in fact it could disappear. We have experienced this a fair amount.”

The original system came at a cost of $182 million, but Houle calls it a black-hole situation, with money, resources and manpower being thrown at the system to try to make up for its shortfalls.

During this week’s system crash, social workers were confronted with blank screens, and the inability to access to their clients’ addresses and warnings that may have been part of the file.

The province says it will examine the case management system’s performance.

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