The Department of Community and Social Services runs the Income Support program. It provides financial help to Albertans who can’t meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. The program also helps people enter, re-enter, or stay in the workforce. The objectives of our audit were to determine whether the department has processes to:
ensure eligible clients are receiving supports in accordance with policy
measure and report on the performance of the program
The Income Support program has a significant social and financial impact
It provided over $663 million in support payments to vulnerable Albertans in 2017–2018.
We conclude that the department does not have adequate processes to ensure that eligible clients are receiving supports in accordance with its policy. We also conclude the department does not have adequate processes to measure and report on the performance of the program. Specifically, we found:
ineffective processes to verify program eligibility and substantiate support payments
client files without Service Needs Determinations, Employability Assessments, and service plans
client files without evidence to support monitoring of the service plan
inadequate processes to monitor and report on the effectiveness of the program
It is the third largest program the department delivers. With the adverse economic climate over the past few years, the department’s primary focus has been on ensuring Albertans in need receive prompt financial support. If the program is not managed effectively, Albertans who need support to help them meet their basic needs—food, clothing, and shelter—or re-enter the workforce may not receive the assistance they need and may have challenges rejoining the workforce. Others may receive support payments they are not entitled to or after they no longer need the support.
Albertans need assurance that the amount of money invested in the program is appropriate and well spent and that it is making a difference.