Minister promises written apology to public servants over federal pay issues

By on 23/08/2016 | Updated on 24/09/2020

Canada’s public services minister has promised officials a written apology over ongoing issues with the federal pay system.

Since the government introduced the new Pheonix pay system in February this year, tens of thousands of public servants have reported issues with their pay: many failed to get paid at all, while others experienced huge delays in receiving their monthly wages.

Marie Lemay, the civil servant in charge of Public Services and Procurement Canada, which oversees Phoenix, already promised to have the problems resolved by the end of October.

And on Friday, Judy Foote, the minister for Public Services and Procurement said during a meeting with unions that she would apologise in writing to those experiencing problems with their pay due to Phoenix.

“I have already said I would apologise to anybody who is suffering hardship as a result of Phoenix,” Foote said, according to Canadian media reports. “I have no problem at all putting an apology in writing.”

Robyn Benson, president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said she had requested the apology.

Benson was among the union leaders who met with Foote on Friday for the first time since problems with Phoenix intensified.

Foote also said that the cost to fix the problems, including for hiring extra staff and opening additional pay offices, had already reached $25 million.

This comes after the the government put those costs between $15 million and $20 milllion last month.

Phoenix is part of the big pay transformation project launched by the previous Conservative government, and was predicted to save $70 million a year beginning in 2016-17, by streamlining services, reducing printing costs and speeding up the process.

Foote said she is tapping into those savings to get Phoenix working.

“As you heard me say before, I am not focused on savings here.

“All I know is we have a system that we have to make sure works and we are doing everything we can.”

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), Canada’s largest public sector union, announced in July that it teamed up with more than a dozen unions to file a notice of application in Federal Court to force the federal government to pay its employees properly and on time.

Unions are seeking a court order directing the government to implement a pay administration system that meets its obligations under the Financial Administration Act and the Directive on Terms and Conditions of Employment.


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About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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