PSAC presses government to fix Phoenix pay system

Federal public service workers deserve to receive their salaries in a timely fashion. And they should not have to face delays or errors due the former Conservative government’s decision to consolidate payroll services.

That is the message that Chris Aylward, PSAC’s National Executive Vice-President, delivered in a meeting with Public Services and Procurement Canada on April 7.

Workers at the Pay Centre in Miramichi have been doing their best to pay people accurately and on time. But insufficient staff, training and what they believe to be flaws in the new Phoenix pay system are preventing these workers from doing so.

Problems multiplying

Problems at the pay centre have exploded since the new Phoenix system has come on line. Pay centre staff are experiencing constant workplace stress, and the problems just seem to be getting worse. Many of the workers employed there are either on sick leave or actively looking for other work.

At the same time, we are hearing from our members and even some managers about a litany of problems with the new system. Incorrect pay is creating situations where cheques are bouncing and people cannot pay their bills.

Many PSAC members who work in remote locations and at sea did not even know there was a problem with their pay until they received notices from utility companies.

Government in denial

Public Services and Procurement Canada agreed to look into the problems we raised. Although they agreed that there is a staffing shortage and are taking measures to address that by hiring additional people, they were reluctant to admit that there are any problems with the new Phoenix system itself. 

The government believes that the Phoenix system is working as it should. The evidence from our members who work at the pay centre and in other departments suggest that this is not the case.

Demand: postpone next phase

PSAC asked the government to postpone the transfer of files to the pay centre scheduled for April 21, until the existing backlog of serious problems have been resolved. We also suggested that transfers of files to departments and agencies not affiliated with Miramichi should be done in more graduated way. PSPC did not agree to our request.  We will continue to raise our concerns and urge the employer to take the time and put the necessary human resources in place as soon as possible to fix these problems.

We urge all members to notify your component if you are experiencing pay problems or if these problems are not being resolved. Components will forward problems to PSAC, and we will immediately bring them to PSPC senior management’s attention.

While we cannot solve individual pay problems, we can push the employer to have them solved at a systematic level.

What you can do

If you are not receiving your pay or not receiving enough of the pay you are owed:

  • Tell your manager.
  • Departments have the authority to pay you up to 66 per cent of your regular pay in 24 to 48 hours. Managers and financial authorities have the ability to make these payments without initially contacting the pay centre.
  • Keep track of these payments, because documents alerting the pay centre to the pay you have received will be submitted after you have been paid and deducted accordingly at a future time.

The current situation is unacceptable and must be fixed as soon as possible. PSAC will continue to do everything in our power to press for prompt solutions to the problems that members have raised.


April 11, 2016