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

Freshet of 2018 evokes memories of the flood of 1948

And while the devastation of 70 years ago informs flood protection now, similar event not predicted

Chilliwack Chiefs prove doubters wrong with RBC Cup triumph

The Chiefs played with a chip on their shoulders, claiming their 1st-ever national junior A title.

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title.

Rising river prompts road closure in Chilliwack

Fraser expected to continue rise on Monday

Chilliwack Chiefs moving on to RBC Cup final after thrilling win over Ottawa

Kaden Pickering scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as Chilliwack won their semi-final 3-2.

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

UPDATE: Woman dies in ocean accident near Tofino hours before daughter’s wedding

“We are so thankful to everyone who helped our mom.”

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Arrest made in last week’s double shooting in East Van

Carleton Stevens, 37, is charged with attempted murder and remains in custody

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

Most Read