Upgrade on track for aging IT system handling old-age benefits, minister says

OTTAWA — Canada’s seniors minister says work to update the computer system handling old-age security payments to a new platform is on track to be done by the end of the year.

Deb Schulte says the $175-million upgrade will help modernize technology that dates from half a century ago.

The work won’t be considered complete until after a “stabilization” period in which officials will test the new platform to ensure there are no digital snags, Schulte says.

She also says the government will invest what is required to renovate systems that send out billions in benefits for seniors and to improve service.

OAS is built on one of a number of government systems that depend on older computer languages and run on aging technology that require a lot of attention from federal IT workers.

Briefing documents provided to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after the election said these “mission-critical” systems and applications are “rusting out and at risk of failure,” requiring immediate attention from his government.

Some are pushing 60 years old and are built on “outdated technology” that can no longer be maintained, according to the documents obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act.

Canadians expect a much more dynamic and digital experience that requires new, upgraded systems, Schulte says.

“We’re not going to penny-pinch and compromise the process. So it does take time, but I do want to make sure that seniors and Canadians know we are seized with this and we have been making progress,” Schulte said in an interview Monday.

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