Nunavut safe from worst effects of Year 2000 bug


Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT — Income support workers may have to resort to writing welfare cheques by hand if a new Year 2000-compliant computer system isn’t up and running before Jan.1.

With more than half the territory’s population on some form of income supplement, it’s a plan that could lead to some very cramped wrists.

But that’s likely to be the limit of problems facing Nunavut administrators.

“Some of our communities are still off-line anyway,” Sandy Teiman, director of income support at the Department of Sustainable Development, said.

Though a brand new internet-based system of issuing social assistance payments is supposed to be ready by November, officials say cheque books will be used as a fall-back plan.

Communities that are connected to the internet still use the old NWT government computer system to deliver income support, Teiman said, and will continue to do so until the new system is ready.

But the old computers aren’t Year-2000 compliant, which means, they may not work properly when their internal clocks change from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000.

With slow satelite links and occasional technical problems, workers have always had to be able to cut a cheque or write out a support application mannually, Teiman said.

The Government of Nunavut has contracted the Government of the NWT to provide computer systems for a number of departments which haven’t had new systems installed yet.

Chief Informatics Officer Ken O’Neil said his staff received a report by the GNWT on the Year 2000 problem this week. The potential impact of the problem on equipment and software that the Nunavut government inherited from the old territory is probably limited, he said.

“We don’t expect it to be too significant,” O’Neil said.

O’Neil added that it will be easier for Nunavut to the Year-2000 computer problem than the NWT.

“Because we got to start a lot of things fresh we’re able to bring in new systems and standardize things,” O’Neil said.

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