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

Gallery: Local Lights

Residents of Seabird Island, Agassiz and Harrison show off their Christmas spirit

UPDATE: Evacuations still in place for homes along Rockwell Drive

District of Kent mayor says no one was injured but slope stability remains a concern

#MeToo at work: How reporting sexual harassment works – and how it doesn’t

British Columbians have four options to report harassment or assault, but none of them are easy

Local mother-son duo fight stigma around being ‘different’

New Agassiz residents hope to make connections in community

#MeToo at work: B.C. women share horrifyingly common sexual assaults

It happens to more people than you might think and impacts women inside and outside of the workplace

Week in review – December 15

KHSAR aid rescue, emergency route plans and more

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Letter: Agassiz resident opposes cell tower

Cites health and environment concerns

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

UPDATED: Train collides with car in Maple Ridge

Mother and child both uninjured, track cleared at 11 a.m.

Accused B.C. drug smuggler to be extradited

Supreme Court of Canada upholds extradition order for accused Shuswap drug smuggler, Colin Martin

One convicted, two cleared in 2014 deaths of men in B.C.’s Cariboo

Andrew Jongbloets convicted of manslaughter in deaths of Matthew Hennigar, 23 and Kalvin Andy, 22

VIDEO: Pedestrian struck by vehicle caught on security camera

Incident points to danger on the roads not only in low light but also in bright sunshine

Most Read