Latest Phoenix update is frustrating, disappointing

The latest update on Phoenix, shows a large remaining backlog of cases. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) provided the latest information on the public service pay system in a media teleconference on June 2.

“We are not surprised,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC National President. “It’s been almost 18 months since the government launched Phoenix and it feels like we are nowhere near the end of this mess.”

Large backlog of cases remains

According to the update, there are still 345,000 pay transactions in the system, which is about 265,000 more than they can process in any given month.

Deputy Minister Marie Lemay said that there has been an increase in pay transactions because of seasonal hiring and the implementation of new collective agreements in the public service. PSPC referred to collective agreements for other unions but made no reference as to how they will deal with PSAC’s new collective agreements that cover about 85,000 employees.

New hiring must rebuild compensation expertise

PSPC acknowledged that the loss of experienced compensation advisors during the pay consolidation was a major cause of the Phoenix problems. The department said they are adding 90 more employees at the Miramichi pay centre and 140 more at the satellite centres and at operations in Matane and Shediac.

However, PSAC is concerned that these new employees will be hired through temporary staffing agencies. This would make the problem worse.  

“We welcome the announcement of new hiring,” said Benson. “But it’s pretty clear that we need long term staffing solutions so that there is ongoing compensation expertise in the government. Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.”

Much more to be done

Here are the steps the government still needs to take to fix Phoenix:

  • Fix the technological problems still plaguing Phoenix and provide a realistic timeline for when the system will be fixed
  • Hire more staff in the Miramichi pay center, the satellite pay centres and in departments. This staffing should not be done through temporary staffing agencies
  • Make a commitment to keep the satellite pay centres open permanently
  • Stop using temporary staffing agencies to staff the call centres. Instead, the government must hire and train workers to securely handle files so they can speak to affected employees about their cases
  • Compensate employees with interest on lost monies, for damages caused by Phoenix, and for the time spent dealing with Phoenix issues

PSAC is committed to doing everything we can to help get our members paid correctly and on time. We will continue to push the government to take the necessary action to fix Phoenix.

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June 7, 2017
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