Kent prison guard and Chilliwack resident Doug Holloway is one of thousands of federal employees caught up in the Phoenix payroll fiasco.

Chilliwack prison guard caught up in federal payroll fiasco

Kent Institution employee among thousands affected by Phoenix

Working as a prison guard at a maximum security penitentiary can be a stressful job.

Having a wife with mental health issues and children with learning difficulties can also be stressful.

And being away from that wife and kids is no picnic either.

So imagine on top of all that not getting your paycheque thanks to the federal government’s Phoenix payroll fiasco.

“It was payday and I got nothing at all,” Holloway told the Times last week.

Three paycheques ago the Kent Institution guard received about one quarter of what he should have received. Then on Sept. 7 he received $128, essentially none of his regular pay, just the shift differential he receives for working evenings and weekends.

Then Sept. 21 it was nothing at all.

“Like a lot of people we live paycheque to paycheque and I support six people with one income,” he said. “My credit card is at the max, maybe Monday I might get an advance . . . I can’t even pay for the kids medical issues.”

By Monday he did get emergency pay through the prison, but it’s not the full amount of his paycheque and the delays make day-to-day living challenging.

Holloway is living downtown Chilliwack right now in a small one-bedroom apartment. His wife and kids are back in Grande Cache, Alta., where he worked prior to his transfer to Kent three months ago.

The Phoenix computerized pay system, commissioned by the previous Conservative government, was implemented in February by the Liberal government. It involved replacing some 2,700 payroll specialists across the country with the automated system, run by 500 people in Miramichi, N.B.

Since then, more than 80,000 federal employees, from MPs to office workers, have complained of not being paid what they’re owed—most commonly not receiving enough in benefits, overtime or pay differentials for temporary promotions. In the worst cases, some people have not been paid at all.

Holloway works as an armed guard at Kent, a maximum-security prison in Agassiz that houses some of Canada’s most hardened criminals, including serial killer Robert Pickton.

“When officers are doing their rounds in the actual living units, when the inmates are out, I’m up on the gun walk with a C8 rifle watching them,” Holloway said.

On other days, Holloway could be one of the guards among the prisoners.

“You’re dealing with guys that wouldn’t even bat an eye to hurt you, or stab you, or shank you . . . you don’t need distractions.”

Derek Chin, the Pacific region president of the Union of Canadian Corrections Officers, said the new payroll system first came to corrections in February as a pilot project at seven institutions across Canada, including B.C.’s medium-security Mission Institution. Pay stubs were plagued with irregularities.

“In Mission they only had about 200 officers,” Chin said, adding that despite the problems the system was expanded in May to cover all of the federal government’s corrections facilities, including the nine B.C. federal institutions and their 1,200 staff.

“The pilot project wasn’t nearly as bad as when they started rolling it out,” Chin said. “It’s just a mess all around.”

The union is currently involved in 40 cases in B.C. that are similar to Holloway’s. Seven of those cases are among Kent’s 300 officers.

Chin said the guards are stuck in the same backlog facing thousands of other public servants.

“We don’t really know what the other federal departments are doing. We don’t really know where we are in the queue,” Chin said, arguing that the guards are a special case.

In the summer, the ministry of Public Services and Procurement Canada set Oct. 31 as its deadline to eliminate the backlog. But that was before Holloway’s paycheque mistakes so he figures he might be last in line for a fix.

“A lot of officers go through PTSD, a lot of dangerous situations. The only gratifying thing is pretty much your paycheque. It’s a thankless job we have . . . all we want to do is get paid.”

Chin said Holloway’s specific problem likely arose through his transfer from Alberta to B.C.

“Somewhere in Miramichi, his file got lost,” Chin said.

– with files from Postmedia

Just Posted

AESS senior girls eyeing spot in basketball provincials

The team needs to move up one more ranking get a place in the championships

Agassiz man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Chilliwack Chief Harrison Blaisdell climbs Central Scouting Bureau rankings

The 17 year old forward is now drawing a second round grade as CSB releases its mid-term list.

Classical paired with folk for Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra’s winter concert

Chilliwack Metropolitan Orchestra presents Tchaikovsky in America at G.W. Graham theatre

Community artists, amateurs wanted to create Kent anniversary logo

The 125th anniversary committee is hoping to choose a logo designed by the community

VIDEO: Harrison sailor looking for competitors to race model boats

Bernhard Van Velze is hoping to create a club for model sailboats at Harrison Lake

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Trial starts for man accused of killing Winnipeg bus driver

The Winnipeg bus driver was stabbed multiple times back in 2017

Giuliani clarifies comments about Trump Tower Moscow project

Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani clarifies comments he made

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

VIDEO: 11-year-old violinist practices for Vancouver Symphony Orchestra debut

Cloverdale student Da-Wei Chan will perform Jan. 31, Feb. 28 with the VSO

Parole granted for drunk driver that killed BC RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

Doug Ford says the Liberals’ carbon tax will plunge Canada into recession

The Ontario premier said there are already warning signs of difficult economic times ahead

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

Most Read