We are and you should be too, sick and tired of Governments only telling enough of the story to shut the press and Canadians up. It’s called “spinning”. THIS NEEDS TO STOP.
Grace Brown demonstrating outside the prime minister’s office on Oct. 31, 2016 because she can’t get her full disability payments due to the Phoenix pay system. (Ashley Burke/CBC News)
After providing a clear number to sum up the scope of the Phoenix pay problems in July, the federal government is now offering up a jigsaw puzzle of numbers, making it difficult to piece together how many people are still facing issues.
Nearly 100,000 public servants have contacted the federal government over the past six months with questions about their pay in the wake of the troubled Phoenix system, CBC News has learned.
But that number doesn’t reveal how many employees are still being paid incorrectly.
‘It’s very discouraging after this many months.’– Chris Aylward, Public Service Alliance of Canada
Phoenix, a new computerized pay system, rolled out in February, leading to complaints by thousands of federal government employees. Some were underpaid, others were overpaid and some were not paid at all.
The government confirmed that 82,000 public servants were affected in some way between February and the end of June. Since July, federal unions have said even more workers have come forward with pay problems, but the government has yet to release that figure, saying it can’t be calculated.
After months of requests, the department in charge of Phoenix told CBC News that more than 13,000 people have come forward since July 1 to report they were not getting paid or were paid incorrectly because they went on leave or left the public service. But the government did not provide a number for current employees who are receiving the wrong amount of pay — those who represented the bulk of the initial 82,000 people with pay problems.
“It’s very discouraging after this many months,” said Chris Aylward, national executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.
“I really believe now that this pay system is so flawed that they cannot get accurate numbers out of this system as to what’s going on.”
Number of people not getting paid grows
CBC News has learned that more than 99,000 employees have contacted the government through its Phoenix feedback form or through the call centre with pay inquiries since July 1, according to Public Services and Procurement Canada.
Of these calls, 2,612 employees reported they are not getting paid at all. That’s three times more than the 720 so-called “priority one” cases logged between February and June 2016.
Another 10,507 employees came forward in the past six months with “priority two cases.” Their pay was affected because they went on leave or left the public service. That’s up nearly 10 times from the 1,100 people who came forward with these issues before the end of June.
The “priority three” cases accounted for 80,000 people between February and June. That includes public servants being underpaid, overpaid, or not receiving extra duty and acting pay.
The government said it’s not tracking how many “people” have come forward with “priority three” issues since July 1. Instead it’s tracking “transactions” being processed in Phoenix.
425,000 pay transactions since July
Public Services and Procurement Canada told CBC News there have been close to 425,000 pay transactions completed between July 1 and Nov. 30.
Every time a compensation advisor opens an employee’s file and fixes a problem, makes a change or answers a question, that’s considered a transaction. It includes issuing employees promotions, overtime and leaves without pay.
Some workers have filed multiple transactions — that’s why the number doesn’t reveal how many people have had Phoenix-related pay problems in the past six months, the department said.
The president of the Government Services Union said she’s concerned the numbers do not reflect the actual problem.
“I would think, we’re almost [in] 2017, that someone should be able to push a button on a new software program and say, here you go,” said Donna Lackie. “Here’s your information, here’s the data.”
“As a union we certainly hear from thousands of people on a regular basis who email us and ask for our support. So we have to question sometimes whether these numbers are reflective of the bottom line.”