Don’t continue to believe the lies, even the ones in this story being told by Marie Lemay. Just the other day another employee (one of hundreds) reported that she came off of maternity leave a while ago and still hasn’t been paid. So the Liberals may be giving numbers of from the past but they are not including the new cases. Also, they say that the ones remaining are complicated. How complicated is it to start someone’s pay back up after they come off of maternity leave? If that’s complicated, then everyone’s pay is complicated.
Once again, the CVP calls for all Liberal MPs to not be paid until the Phoenix pay system is fixed 100%.
With less than two weeks remaining before the promised deadline to have all Phoenix pay system issues resolved, Public Services and Procurement Deputy Minister Marie Lemay says the department is running behind and anticipates that not all of the approximate 31,000 remaining cases will be cleared up in time.
“We are tracking a bit behind our projected schedule. So this is because of the complexity of the files that we are currently handling,” Ms. Lemay told reporters this afternoon.
In July, at the height of reports from federal public servants that they were having pay problems as a result of the new government-wide Phoenix payroll system, there were around 82,000 cases filed, which the government vowed to have resolved by Oct. 31.
“We are driving very hard towards our Oct. 31 deadline and we believe that the bulk of our backlog will be eliminated by this date, however it is possible that we will have a limited number of cases that will require additional time,” Ms. Lemay said.
Since the last update on Oct. 5, the department has closed 12,824 cases bringing the overall resolved cases to “over 51,000 closed employee cases,” or around 62 per cent of the original backlog. This leaves around 31,000 cases left to resolve.
Ms. Lemay said the source of the further delays is that a number of the cases the pay advisors are now working on are outdated, complicated, and are taking longer to resolve than expected. “There are some things in there that are really old … this is the nature of the HR and pay business,” Ms. Lemay said.
Some of the remaining pay cases date back a number of years, and are not a result of the Phoenix roll out, but had been on the books for some time. The department is going to assign the most experienced pay advisors to these cases, and is aiming to have them completely resolved within one or two pay periods after the Oct. 31 deadline.
Public Services says it is continuing to prioritize employees receiving no pay, or who are at risk of not receiving pay, and will continue to address those issues as they arise going forward, but will have the backlog of these issues cleared within one pay period in the case of no pay, or within six weeks for those at risk of receiving no pay.
It’s the remaining cases which include overpay, underpay, entitlement, or extra duty pay that still have yet to be worked through.
In addition, the compensation office that has been set up to reimburse employees for damages has yet to start sending out cheques in all departments. As of last Friday, Oct. 14, 92 applications for compensation had been made.
While working to correct these problems, the department has hired additional temporary staff in pop-up pay centres as well as opening a call centre to answer employee questions and flag pay cases. For now, Ms. Lemay says the pay advisors will be kept on until the department is able to meet its service standards 95 per cent of the time, which includes response times for resolving cases—which in some cases, is only being met 30 per cent of the time currently.
The Phoenix system was projected to save the government $67.2-million a year. However, the government is already expecting to pay $50-million to resolve the fallout of the problem-plagued system, and says that total is expected to increase once the cost for compensation is included.
The new automated payroll program replaced a 40-year-old payment system for all Government of Canada employees, and was rolled out in two phases beginning in February and encompassing the total number—an estimated 300,000—of employees as of May.
Ms. Lemay has said the majority of the problems can be attributed to the department underestimating how long it would take to train staff on the new Phoenix computerized pay system. As well, at the time Phoenix went live, there was already a backlog of more than 40,000 files with issues that had to be resolved.
The two biggest federal public service unions, the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Professional Institute of the Public Service, have said Public Services Minister Judy Foote (Bonavista — Burin — Trinity, Nfld.) has been inaccessible throughout the Phoenix fiasco pay system and that was “disingenuous” when admitting how much she knew about the issues facing the payroll program.
Throughout the controversy, the House Government Operations and Estimates Committee has held emergency meetings on the Phoenix issues, and has heard from senior departmental officials who could not account for what, when, or why the minister was, or wasn’t briefed on certain aspects of the pay system roll out.
The system was first set to launch last July ahead of the election call, and then again in October, but both times the department—specifically associate assistant deputy minister of accounting, banking and compensation Rosanna Di Paola, who had been its main point of contact—listened and agreed with PSAC’s suggestion to wait. However, attempts to halt it rolling out in February were unsuccessful, as were pleas from both PSAC and PIPSC (whose members at this point started to experience pay issues) in April when the remaining users were migrated over.
Ms. Di Paola has since been shuffled out of her position leading the implementation of Phoenix and is now working as a “special adviser” in the department. She was replaced by Marc Lemieux, who previously worked with Ms. Lemay at the regional agency Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions before Ms. Lemay joined the Public Services department in April.
“She remains a member of my executive team, this new role will see her focus on important projects,” Ms. Lemay told reporters.
Ms. Foote has asked Auditor General Michael Ferguson to investigate the planning and implementation of the Phoenix system, and her department is also planning its own internal evaluation of what went wrong.