The Minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) has issued a written apology to all Government of Canada employees affected by the public service’s new pay system, Phoenix.
It comes almost two and a half years since the Associate Deputy of PSPC and pay modernization at the time, Renée Jolicoeur, received the Outstanding Achievement Award for various career accomplishments which is considered, “the highest expression of recognition for senior public servants in the Public Service of Canada.”
One of Jolicoeur’s career accomplishments listed was, “transforming the Government’s outdated pension administration into a seamless and centralized electronic system, and modernizing the compensation function by creating a fully automated and consolidated compensation service centre.
She launched the pay modernization and consolidation initiative to modernize a 40-year-old IT system and to create a compensation service centre through the consolidation of all pay advisory services and functions for government departments. She has been instrumental in working across government and with bargaining agents to mobilize compensation advisors in support of this important initiative, as well as with the Government of New Brunswick and post-secondary institutions to develop a training and recruitment initiative to create a pool of skilled compensation service providers.”
The Prime Minister at the time was quoted as saying, “Ms. Jolicoeur is a world-class innovator who has transformed outdated government pension and pay systems into cutting edge operations that have saved taxpayers money, provided better services to Canadians, and which are envied around the world.”
Fast forward to last week when the Minister of PSPC said that the cost to fix Phoenix has so far totalled $25 million and counting.
And this week, unions have continued to be vocal in their claims that they weren’t heard when they issued warnings about Phoenix:
— PSAC (@psacnat) August 24, 2016
— PSAC (@psacnat) August 24, 2016
Read the Minister’s written apology to public servants below:
No one should have to worry about being paid for work performed. The pay problems experienced by some of our employees are unacceptable. To the public servants and families impacted by the issues with the public service pay system, I am sorry. Please accept my apologies.
Fixing this situation is a top priority for me.
We have added more staff to the Pay Centre in Miramichi and created four satellite pay units to fix pay problems faster. We will continue to hire as many additional pay advisors as we can. I have seen firsthand how hard employees in these centres are working to fix problems with speed and accuracy. I thank them for their service.
Priority is being given to those individuals most at risk. In the meantime, employees can request and receive emergency payments from their department, which can be issued within 24-48 hours.
We are working with our colleagues at Treasury Board Secretariat to ensure affected employees who have incurred costs resulting from the implementation of the new pay system will be able to submit a claim to be reimbursed for these expenses.
We have also made it easier for employees to get information. An enhanced call centre is in place and Public Services and Procurement Canada is providing regular updates on its website and via public technical briefings.
Unions are providing important assistance by identifying employee pay problems and supporting solutions, such as the hiring of compensation advisors. Last week I met with union representatives as part of this partnership. All parties expressed a shared concern for employees and we committed to keep working together to support them and remain responsive to their needs.
While there is still a significant number of affected employees, we are making progress. Outstanding issues are being resolved, and this work is happening as quickly as possible. Anyone who has a pay problem can get help by calling Public Services and Procurement Canada at 1-855-686-4729 or by completing the department’s online feedback form. That form may also be used to request an emergency salary payment.
We are committed to addressing issues caused by the pay transformation initiative. The determination and dedication of employees throughout the Government to help resolve this unacceptable pay situation, will ensure we get through this challenging period together.
Judy M. Foote
Minister of Public Services and Procurement