The Trudeau government has refused to renew an incentive package for the recruitment and retention of federal compensation advisors, jeopardizing the ability to resolve Phoenix cases for hard working public service employees.
The incentive package, first negotiated by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) in August 2017, ensured that former and current compensation advisors would receive incentives in exchange for remaining in high-stress assignments at the Public Service Pay Centre, which continues to struggle with a massive backlog of cases.
PSAC has repeatedly requested that the government extend the duration of the incentive package until such time as the Phoenix Pay System is stabilized and the case backlog is resolved, but the government has failed to act.
“It’s outrageous that the government has allowed this agreement to expire mere weeks after the Parliamentary Budget Officer stated that public service workers will be stuck with Phoenix until at least 2023,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President. “Trudeau says fixing the Phoenix crisis is a priority but these actions speak louder than words.”
“The incentives make us feel appreciated and compensate us for all the extra hours we put in to help people struggling with Phoenix pay problems,” explained Donna Whalen, a compensation advisor at the Miramichi Pay Centre since it opened seven years ago. “It’s stressful, emotionally draining work that requires frequent overtime, but we need to stay focused on resolving everyone’s pay issues. This is a slap in the face to pay staff.”
PSAC is committed to restoring the recruitment and retention incentive package for pay advisors and will be pressing the government to resolve the situation in the coming days.
When the former Harper Conservative government consolidated the federal public service pay system, hundreds of compensation advisors were laid off. The expertise and experience of those workers was lost and when Phoenix went live in 2016, there were not enough staff to deal with the problems it caused.
In August 2017, PSAC negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Treasury Board to address recruitment and retention of compensation advisors to ensure the government has enough staff resources to deal with Phoenix pay problems. Measures included an incentive payment of $4,000 and double-time compensation for overtime. The terms of the MOU expired in June 2019.