Federal government workers protest problem plagued payroll system

Federal government workers protest problem plagued payroll system

WATCH: Federal government employees on Vancouver Island worry every payday.  They’re not sure if they’ll get paid enough, or too much.  It’s due to an ongoing issue with the payroll system, now into its second year of problems.  Mary Griffin reports.

It’s a dreary, wet afternoon. The last place to be for a rally in Victoria. But these federal workers are angry.

“Phoenix, Phoenix, Phoenix, where are you?” “I can’t eat an I.O.U.”

Nearly one in every two federal public servants on Vancouver Island receives their pay through the Phoenix system. A system plagued with problems.  Adele McLean is a member of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC).  “Being underpaid, wrong pay, overpaid,” McLean said.  “They’ve received multiple T4s, so their income taxes are in chaos.”

And each has a story of their own, including government worker Coralie Cardy.

“They can’t even get my overpayment amount right,” Cardy said. “I keep getting different amounts every time I ask for the current balance.”

Another worker, Veronica Van Der Heiden is also frustrated.

“They didn’t process my dental benefits,” Van Der Heiden said. “My husband had a root canal, needed a root canal.  We had to wait until they finally got off their butt, after I had to call my MP.”

The former Conservative government centralized the payroll system in 2010 to cut the number of employees processing claims. Now the Liberal government is blaming the software.  The Minister of Public Services and Procurement Carla Qualtrough said a lack of training for the ongoing issues.

“This problem is going to be solved for our public servants, by our public servants,” Qualtrough said. “And so, we need to make sure that they have the tools in place. Frankly, the number of transactions in the backlog is going to go up before it goes down.”

The employees here are just a small portion of those affected on Vancouver Island according to local PSAC president Colleen Girard.

“We have about 4,000 members. And I know for myself, I’m a local president, I have a membership of 575 people,” Girard said. “We’ve had over 200 cases just within our local.”

It could cost $50 million dollars before all the problems are fixed.


Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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