The liberals in their haste to rush things in, have created a huge mess with the Phoenix pay system. They were warned that it was not ready, but mr. selfie and photo op, decided to chance it anyways, and now thousands of Canadians are getting their pay reduced, or some are not getting paid at all. They should have rolled this out with the MP’s first.
Public Services Minister Judy Foote says she will issue a written apology to Canada’s public servants for bungled pay caused by the federal government’s new payroll system, which has already cost $25 million to fix.
Foote said she has apologized to public servants, especially to those facing financial hardship caused by a malfunctioning Phoenix pay system, but, at the request of union leaders, she will issue a written one.
“I have already said I would apologize to anybody who is suffering hardship as a result of Phoenix,” Foote said. “I have no problem at all putting an apology in writing.”
Robyn Benson, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said she requested the apology as part of a communiqué sent to all public servants explaining the steps those who haven’t been paid can take.
Benson was among the union leaders who met with Foote on Friday for the first time since the Phoenix fiasco erupted following its initial rollout in February.
Foote also confirmed the cost of the government’s various fixes, hiring of extra staff and opening new satellite pay offices and hubs has already reached $25 million.
Last month, the government put those costs between $15 million and $20 milllion. Many say those estimates don’t include lost productivity.
Phoenix is part of the massive pay transformation project launched by the Conservatives that was supposed to save $70 million a year beginning in 2016-17.
Foote said she is tapping into those savings to get Phoenix working.
“As you heard me say before, I am not focused on savings here,” she said,
“All I know is we have a system that we have to make sure works and we are doing everything we can.”
Union leaders came to their first meeting with Foote determined to get a firm commitment that public servants will be paid one way or another.
They also wanted to be included in the fix and for their members to be consulted.
Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, said she told Foote the government should be prepared to return to manually writing cheques to ensure people are paid while fixing Phoenix.
Foote also stood by the government’s promise to clear up the 80,000 backlog by Oct. 31, a deadline unions expect will be missed.
Benson said she stressed that if the government was going to miss that deadline they should make “it known sooner.”
“There’s nothing worse than saying you’re going to hit a target, not hit it, and then have to back-pedal afterwards,” she said.
Another big issue was working conditions at the Miramichi, N.B., pay centre. Foote said Miramichi workers will get extra training and whatever resources they need to do their jobs.
“I don’t think there was sufficient training given to those expected to do their job and if it requires more training we will make sure we do that as well,” said Foote.
Compensation advisers have accused the government of understating the backlog by counting only the 80,000 people who have pay problems.
They argue people with pay problems could have multiple issues to be resolved and putting the backlog closer to 400,000 cases or more.
Benson said the union has anonymously gathered the concerns of the workers at Miramichi about the way they are managed, which she will be turning over the Marie Lemay, PSPC’s deputy minister.
Benson said PSAC is also pressing for Treasury Board Secretariat to create a committee of union and management representatives to examine how Phoenix unfolded and ensure people are getting paid properly.
Benson said she asked Foote about the performance pay gIves to executives who oversaw the design and implementation of Phoenix.
Foote said all performance pay is on hold and that the focus is on getting regular pay cheques to employees.
KATHRYN MAY, OTTAWA CITIZEN
August 20, 2016