MP Report: Workers left in the lurch with ongoing Phoenix fiasco

Alistair MacGregor is the MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford

You go to work, you do your job, and you get fairly compensated – right?

It’s a simple concept we’re all familiar with, but for thousands of federal public servants across the country, checking their bank balance every second week involves an exercise in panic attack mitigation.

The Phoenix pay system was meant to streamline payroll services for federal public servants. The dollar figure in annual savings was supposed to be $70 million for this public administration gem, which was conjured up by the previous Conservative government and implemented under the Liberals. That system cost $309.5 million to put in place, and it has been an utter and epic failure ever since.

With an additional $400 million committed by the Liberal government in their attempt to salvage this ongoing HR nightmare, the price tag attached to providing federal employees with salaries, benefits and pensions, has been speeding around in a revolving door since the initial rollout in 2016.

The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, the new minister of public services and procurement Canada, said in an interview recently that she couldn’t guarantee that figure won’t reach $1 billion by the time all is said and done – a startling estimation confirmed in the Nov. 21, 2017 Auditor General’s Report: that Phoenix pay issues will take years to fix and will likely cost Canadians about the amount the minister suggested it could.

Even our favourite relic of a bygone era, the Senate of Canada, had the good sense and wherewithal to scrap the system for their employees, putting out a request for a proposal to find an alternative. Sadly, this option is not one available to the average civil servant.

Unfortunately, there seems to be no end in sight for our federal public servants and the high emotional toll many are suffering through while the new Liberal government attempts to fix the mess. The Liberals cannot continue to blame the previous Conservative government for the Phoenix fiasco; it is well past time this government shows some leadership and takes ownership of the problem.

My office is currently working with about 30 open cases where we are assisting constituents with navigating any and all available avenues for recourse related to the Phoenix pay system.

For close to 18 months, there was little information available from the minister’s office both on how the government was solving problems, and whether contact from member of parliament’s offices on behalf of those we are here to represent were having any effect at all.

My office will continue to offer assistance to any constituents affected by this problem as best we can (250-746-2353), and I will continue to press the government to implement a sensible solution, so Canadian families affected by this ongoing mess can get their lives back on track.

— Alistair MacGregor is the MP for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.

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