Liberals show pattern of mismanagement and failure to put vulnerable people first, says NDP
VICTORIA – Serious concerns about a new government computer system raised by the province's children's watchdog point to a pattern of Liberal mismanagement and a failure to put the needs of vulnerable people first, say New Democrats.
"The Representative for Children and Youth confirmed the serious concerns we've been hearing and raising for months about the new Integrated Case Management System," said New Democrat critic for children and family development Claire Trevena.
“This is a system that is associated with the safety and well-being of some of British Columbia’s most vulnerable. The problem is not simply that the government has failed at implementation and training, but that the system itself may not have been the right tool for the job," said Trevena.
The $182 million Integrated Case Management system has been in the works since 2008. The cross-ministry computer system affects three ministries including Children and Family Development and Social Development, and is meant to streamline and update antiquated data entry within the ministries.
The Representative for Children and Youth said Thursday in an extraordinary public statement that she is very concerned about child safety under the new system.
Trevena said the Integrated Case Management system is based on a statistical versus narrative based model.
"You’ve got to tell a person’s story and you’ve got to be able to retrieve it, chronologically and quickly. That's not happening with ICM," said Trevena.
"Major concerns are being raised in a number of areas that affect vulnerable people in B.C. What we're hearing from the front lines is that it doesn't work, it is slowing down the ability to serve clients with multiple needs, and in a number of cases opening up huge gaps where none existed before. It is not a system designed for case work,” said New Democrat social development critic Carole James.
James pointed out that similar circumstances led to the scrapping of the BCeSIS student information system, which cost government $97 million and failed to work properly.
"The Liberals failed to do their homework up front when they implemented BCeSIS and it cost taxpayers nearly $100 million. It appears they didn't learn from their mistakes, and now we have a $182 million price tag on a system we don't know if they can fix.
"The real cost we’re seeing is to children, families, and the ability of the dedicated front line workers to support them," said James.
“Social workers need to be focused on the needs of vulnerable people in B.C., not on navigating through a computer system that isn't up to the task,” said Trevena.