Phoenix 6th anniversary: PSAC calls for urgent action, ongoing compensation

On the sixth anniversary of the Phoenix pay disaster, PSAC is calling on the federal government to take urgent action – including providing ongoing damages compensation – to address the pay issues of tens of thousands of PSAC members.

Since the faulty pay system was launched in 2016, the federal government hasn’t had a single pay period where it was able to pay federal public service workers accurately or on time. The pay issues that started six years ago with massive financial losses for our members have continued, with constant pay shortfalls and errors causing stress and anxiety paycheque after paycheque.

“The Phoenix fiasco is a national disgrace that still impacts the lives of tens of thousands of Canadian workers, and this government has consistently failed to do what it takes to make this right,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC national president.

During the last round of Treasury Board bargaining, PSAC negotiated $2,500 in general damages compensation for all our members, and a claims process to reimburse workers for other expenses and major losses caused by the broken pay system.

That agreement covered the stress, aggravation and pain and suffering our members endured from 2016 to 2019, but since then, the pay problems haven’t stopped. With the government still years away from launching its next pay system, and the backlog of 141,000 Phoenix pay issues still growing, there’s no end in sight for our members who just want to see an end to their pay issues.

That’s why PSAC will soon begin negotiating ongoing damages compensation with Treasury Board for the hardships our members continue to endure. We’ll also work to ensure the claims process for expenses and major losses remains available to our members for as long as they continue to experience pay problems.

In the meantime, the only way to help workers still being impacted by Phoenix pay issues is for the government to hire more compensation advisors to fix our members’ pay problems as they happen, and to eliminate the growing backlog of cases – thousands dating all the way back to when Phoenix was launched in 2016.

And as we move forward, we will be calling on the federal government and Members of Parliament to launch a national public inquiry into the Phoenix pay disaster to investigate the pay system’s catastrophic rollout, its impact on federal workers and to make sure the same mistakes are never repeated.

“A national public inquiry into Phoenix is the only way to measure the true scope of this disaster, hold the government accountable for years of inaction and chart a path forward to make workers whole again,” said Aylward.

PSAC is calling on the government to: 

  1. Provide ongoing damages compensation 
    In the coming months, PSAC will begin the formal process with Treasury Board to negotiate ongoing damages compensation. The claims process for expenses and major losses should also be available to our members as long as they continue to experience hardships.

  1. Hire more compensation advisors to fix pay problems and prevent future issues 
    More compensation advisors are desperately needed to fix the Phoenix issues created every day, and to eliminate the growing backlog of cases. It’s the only path forward to bring relief to workers. Working in compensation with a broken pay system is a difficult and stressful job. This has caused problems with hiring and retention. The government should renew the recruitment and incentive package for compensation advisors to attract and keep these highly trained staff.

  1. Make Phoenix general damages compensation non-taxable
    Phoenix damages were negotiated to compensate for the pain and suffering caused by years of pay issues and should be tax-free. But Treasury Board and Canada Revenue Agency have refused to review the taxability of Phoenix damages in Tax Court. If the taxation issue is not resolved soon, we’ll have no choice but to encourage members to file individual tax appeals to CRA.

  1. Properly consult and engage with unions and federal workers on the next pay system 
    We warned the government Phoenix wasn’t ready, but they didn’t listen, and we paid the price. That can’t happen again. We expect the government to thoroughly test the next pay system and consult with PSAC and compensation advisors who workers before launching Phoenix’s replacement.  

  1. Launch a national inquiry into the Phoenix pay disaster
    The Phoenix pay fiasco is a national disgrace that has cost taxpayers billions of dollars and affected hundreds of thousands of Canadians. There has been virtually no accountability or investigation into the rollout or impact of Phoenix aside from the Auditor General’s report in 2017. PSAC members and Canadian taxpayers deserve a national inquiry into Phoenix to make sure this disaster is never repeated. 


February 24, 2022