Phoenix pay problems drop slightly; bigger decline unlikely until late spring

March backlog included 377,000 cases that went beyond the pay centre’s normal monthly workload

The backlog of problem pay files created by the federal government’s Phoenix pay system fell slightly in March — the second straight monthly decline, figures released Friday show.

But a significant decline in the backlog isn’t expected for some time, warned Public Services and Procurement Canada, the department that oversees the troubled pay system for nearly 300,000 civil servants.

The central pay centre in Miramichi, N.B., was still dealing with 625,000 transactions as of March 21, the department said — down from a peak of about 633,000 transactions that were awaiting processing in late January.

“This decrease is promising, but with additional work left to do on overpayments and collective agreements, a continual decline is not expected until later this spring,” the department said on its website.

The March backlog included 377,000 cases that went beyond the pay centre’s normal monthly workload of 80,000 pay transactions.

The percentage of pay transactions that were processed by the pay centre within the government’s own self-prescribed service standard grew to 59 per cent, up from 51 per cent in late February. However, that rate is also expected to fluctuate as the April 30 income tax filing deadline draws near.

READ MORE: Federal workers rally for immediate action on Phoenix pay system

READ MORE: Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived, Ottawa says

Today’s new figures follow a survey, commissioned by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, that suggests more than 80 per cent of federal workers have been impacted by Phoenix — severely, in the case of nearly 20 per cent of respondents.

“Phoenix has clearly had a devastating effect on the mental health and well-being of federal public service workers,” said PSAC national president Robyn Benson.

“Employees deserve compensation for the stress and anguish Phoenix has caused for more than two years, as well as the time they have spent dealing with their pay problems.”

The 17 unions representing federal employees have called on Ottawa to pay “damages” for the stress and financial burdens caused by Phoenix. Talks with union officials have been ongoing since the Trudeau government opened the door to compensation in its February budget, although neither the unions nor the Treasury Board Secretariat, which is overseeing the talks, have revealed the extent of the demands.

The survey results were similar to findings of a wider-ranging poll conducted by the government in 2017, which found about one in three respondents reporting that “pay or compensation issues cause stress at work to a large or very large extent,” a Treasury Board spokesman said in an email.

“The poll commissioned by PSAC reflects what we already know about the impact of compensation issues on employee and workplace well-being,” said the email.

Later this spring, an auditor general’s report is expected to take a deeper dive into the causes of the Phoenix pay debacle.

Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Community invited to help with Downtown Surrey BIA’s fence art project

Association is hoping to change the ‘narrative’ for 135A Street with artwork

‘Kim’s Convenience’ keeps Surrey actor busy when not working as church pastor in Guildford

Award-nominated James Yi will again play shop owner at Surrey Arts Centre next winter

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in South Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Hazmat team called to Surrey recycling centre

Witness at scene said several workers reported affects including coughing, headaches and chest tightness

VIDEO: Wet weather kicks off Lower Mainland toad migration

Thousands of small western toads were making the trek from pond to woods

Langley organizers invite special guest to Gone Country

Cancer fundraising, day-long concert sold out more than a month and a half ahead of Saturday’s event

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Serious police incident unfolding at Sts’ailes near Agassiz

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

RCMP release sketch of suspect in SFU assault, appeal to witnesses who helped woman

The RCMP want to talk to two women who helped the victim after she got to the parking lot

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Most Read