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Public service union seeks more relief for workers affected by Phoenix pay system


The largest union in the federal public service is hoping the government uses this week’s budget to set aside money for workers still facing issues from the Phoenix pay system.

Chris Aylward, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, says some government workers still find themselves overpaid or underpaid some six years after the new pay system was launched.

He says the federal government needs to hire more advisers to sift and address thousands of outstanding pay cases sitting in a government backlog.

Some of those cases date back to 2016 when the government turned the switch on Phoenix.

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The new system was supposed to consolidate dozens of separate and antiquated pay systems and save the government millions annually but resulted in massive upheaval and problems getting people properly paid.

Aylward says that there are still issues for workers transferred between departments and agencies who have to wait months for their pay to catch up to their job change.

When their pay catches up, there can be overpayments that the government then looks to claw back over subsequent pay periods, Aylward said.

He also noted that workers who have recently left the public service have waited months or years for a final payout.

PSAC is asking the government to set aside money in the budget to address Phoenix issues and call an inquiry into the whole affair that Aylward called “a national disgrace.”

“It’s not gone away,” he said.

“It hasn’t been in the media a whole lot in recent months, but … every payday, we still have issues with members not getting paid properly.”

The Liberals set aside $47 million over two years in last year’s budget to deal with the backlog of cases by the end of this year, a move that helped bring the total price tag for Phoenix to over $2.1 billion.

Public Services Minister Filomena Tassi told the House of Commons on Tuesday that ongoing pay issues are creating stress and hardship for employees, and reiterated the government’s commitment to “making this right.”

“That is why we are doing all we can to stabilize the Phoenix pay system, which can include outsourcing to help eliminate the backlog faster,” she said.

“We are making progress, but we know that there’s more work to do.”

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