Some public servants will have to request their departments for emergency cheques if they find that their payroll is delayed or if they are not being paid the proper amount. The head of Public Services and Procurement Canada said government employees will have to resort to this procedure because of a faulty payroll system.
In 2009, the government transitioned to the Phoenix payroll system to replace a payroll system that had been in place since the 1970s. The Transformation of Pay Administration (TPA) initiative aimed to employ technology that would centralize payroll services to simplify and standardize pay administrative functions. The government said it realize savings amounting to $70 million per year starting 2016-2017 dues to cost efficiency.
But ever since the switch over there have been numerous complaints about the system with many government employees saying their salaries have been delayed.
“Really there is no reason for employees not to get paid,” The CBC quoted Brigitte Fortin, assistant deputy minister with the PSPC. “Where employees’ pay is delayed, departments and agencies can issue salary advances.”
She said some of the problems can be traced to her department but also explained that some workers are still unfamiliar with the Phoenix system and this has caused some delays in inputting data.
Fortin said the system was put through a battery of tests before being brought online. She said they knew they would encounter some challenges with the system which could only be identified when it is “used and exposed to a broad range of pay scenarios.”
“Workers at the Pay Centre in Miramichi have been doing their best to pay people accurately and on time,” according to the Public Services Alliance of Canada. “But insufficient staff, training and what they believe to be flaws in the new Phoenix pay system are preventing these workers from doing so.”
The group said problems at the centre have “exploded” since the new system went online.
For instance, incorrect pay has created “situations where cheques are bouncing and people cannot pay their bills.”
“Many PSAC members who work in remote locations and at sea did not even know there was a problem with their pay until they received notices from utility companies,” the alliance said.
The group has asked the government to postpone the transfer of files to the pay centre scheduled for April 21 until the existing backlog of serious problems has been resolved.
The PSAC also suggested that transfers of files to departments and agencies not affiliated with Miramichi be done in “more graduated way”
However, the alliance said, PSPC did not agree to its request.