Federal employees from Mountain Institution, Kent Institution and the Agassiz Research and Development Centre rallied on Highway 9 in February to show their frustration with the Phoenix pay system. Many still haven’t seen repayments after being over and underpaid – or in some cases, not paid at all. (Nina Grossman/The Observer)

EDITORIAL: Three years too long for public servants

Editor Grace Kennedy explains her opinion on the Phoenix pay system

It has been three years since Canadian public servants have received consistent and accurate paychecks. Three years.

You don’t need a more sensational lead than that.

For three years federal employees have been struggling with the Phoenix pay system, a quickly-implemented system that was intended to centralize payroll payments for 46 different departments and agencies and make it more efficient for the other 55 departments.

The theory was good: reduce overhead and time by using technology to simplify multiple complicated payroll systems that were designed 40 years ago. The application? Not so much.

When you’re asking one system to deal with employees from departments as diverse as the Canadian Dairy Commission, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the National Film Board, you have to spend some time making sure it runs smoothly. Which, if we remember the 2018 audit, definitely didn’t happen.

But the goal here isn’t to point fingers at management who prioritized schedules and budget over the livelihoods of nearly 300,000 Canadians. It’s to remind us all that those employees are still struggling to make it right.

RELATED: Confidence in the pay system a ‘pipe dream,’ federal employees say

Full disclosure: my partner is a public servant. He is very lucky to have never missed a paycheck under the Phoenix pay system, as others employed by the federal government have. But I still see the bi-weekly frustrations that come with each paycheck.

Sometimes they are too much. Sometimes they are too little. Occasionally, two deposits arrive in the bank and neither one matches what has been earned.

These issues mean he spends extra hours documenting time worked so it can later be matched up with what Phoenix thinks he earned. They meant several months of wondering if he was still part of his union because Phoenix hadn’t taken off his union dues.

For many of us, six months of Phoenix would have been enough to call it quits. Get out of public service and enjoy a steady job that offers a reliable paycheck. But these employees don’t.

They’ve stuck with it. They’re passionate about the jobs they do, the services they offer to our country — whether it’s keeping our corrections facilities running, researching agricultural science or patrolling our waterways.

These people are, in a very real sense, servants of the public. It’s time their pay was accorded the respect it deserves.

-Grace Kennedy, editor



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Agassiz speed skater heading to Canada West championships

Mya Onos, 11, is qualified for her first provincials this year, and is now taking on Western Canada

Harrison considers future of memorial bench program

Harrison to keep maintaining bench plaques, council seems to feel new benches could be in the future

BC Ferries has no plans to implement debit for vehicle ticket payments

Debit accepted for foot passengers, on-board purchases for all vessels

See stunning sights and amazing adventures at mountain film fest in Chilliwack

Discover what’s in our own backyard with the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival tour

The complete history of science in one hour at Chilliwack Cultural Centre

We Now Know is a complete history lesson without the boring stuff

Harrison Hot Springs students bring ‘Twelfth Night’ to life

The adaption of Shakespeare’s classic comedy include songs and phrases from Canada’s east coast

BC man ‘parks’ horse during liquor store pit stop

As long as animal wasn’t jaywalking, no problem, says Parksville official

5 to start your day

Maple Ridge gym teacher punished after swearing at student, carfentanil found in 13 overdose deaths and more

’Full worm super moon’ to illuminate B.C. skies on first day of spring

Spring has sprung, a moon named in honour of thawing soil marks final super moon until 2020

Police lock down part of Armstrong after ‘live grenade’ discovered

An ordnance believed to be a grenade found on Smith Drive between Dairy Queen and Anchor Inn Pub

Dutch police question new suspect in deadly tram shooting

Police are looking for additional suspects in the shooting

Starbucks to test recyclable cups, redesign stores in B.C., U.S. cities

The company also said it plans to redesign its stores as it adapts to increasing mobile pick-up and delivery orders

In pre-election budget, Liberals boost infrastructure cash to cities, broadband

The budget document says the Liberals have approved more than 33,000 projects, worth about $19.9 billion in federal financing

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Most Read