On March 8, the government provided another update on the Phoenix pay system. While they have made progress in fixing the system, it is clear that there is still a long way to go before all public service workers are paid correctly and on time.
“We are glad to see progress,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National Executive Vice President. “But it is cold comfort to our members who are still not getting paid correctly or on time, and are suffering the financial consequences of that.”
Parental and disability leave cases soon to be on track
One positive takeaway from the government’s update is that the government confirmed that 95 per cent of new cases of maternity, parental, and disability leave will be at “steady state” very soon.
Maternity and parental leave are on track for steady state by the end of March and disability leave cases by the end of April. “Steady state” means that cases are processed within the regular service standard of 20 days.
Government officials noted that this fix is the result of the push by PSAC and other unions to have these cases prioritized. Since the problems started, PSAC has been working with the government to help fix Phoenix and find solutions to reduce the negative impact this pay system has on our members.
No response to PSAC’s request for contingency fund
One thing that was not addressed directly was whether or not the government supports the idea of a contingency fund for further Phoenix fixes. PSAC and other unions have demanded that the Liberal government include a $75 million Phoenix contingency fund in the upcoming federal budget.
This fund would be available to departments and agencies to respond to problems and to adjust to the new pay input structure so that essential pay information is entered correctly and consistently. This would improve the government’s capacity to ensure federal public service workers are paid correctly and on time.
One year too long
On February 24th, PSAC marked the first anniversary of Phoenix by drawing attention to the pay system and its continuing problems. PSAC members across Canada participated by writing to Justin Trudeau, sharing their thoughts on social media, and contacting their members of Parliament.
“One year is too long to wait to have a pay system that works,” said Aylward. “We will do everything we can to make sure the government fixes this before the second anniversary.”