(Canadian Press)

Liberals vow to replace Phoenix pay system

Federal employees rally in cities around the country today

Civil service unions vowed Wednesday to hold the Trudeau government’s feet to the fire after the Liberals pledged in their latest budget to replace the troubled Phoenix pay system with a “next-generation” compensation system that works.

Federal employees rallied in at least a dozen cities across the country to mark the second anniversary of the disastrous launch of Phoenix.

The lunch-hour protests came a day after the government announced plans to spend $16 million over two years exploring options for building a new pay system while eventually scrapping the IBM-built Phoenix program.

The system is clearly not delivering as it was supposed to, Morneau said Wednesday in a post-budget event at the Economic Club of Ottawa.

“What we’ve said over the long term is that we need to find a new approach — a new approach that works.”

While many workers said they were encouraged that the pay system will be replaced, their unions were determined not to let their guard down until the government delivers on its pledge.

“I see this as a glimmer of hope in a long two years of constant stress and financial worry for our members,” said Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, at a rally in Ottawa.

“We need a pay system that works, and we have the people to build it,” Daviau said, pointing to the government’s benefit distribution system, the NetFile tax filing system and border control systems as prime examples of what her members can do.

“These are the same professionals who designed and built virtually every important computer system that the government relies on.”

The Phoenix pay system has been a nightmare for tens of thousands of civil servants since it was formally launched two years ago.

Fixing the problem, which has left many government employees underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all, is expected to cost upwards of at least $1 billion, with estimates that the final tally could go much higher.

Tuesday’s federal budget also provided indications that it could take more than two years to develop, test and ultimately launch a new pay system.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which organized the rallies, said it’s still concerned that the Trudeau government didn’t provide an exemption to ensure that employees who were overpaid don’t have to return the gross total of those overpayments.

The government has agreed to consider changing tax laws for the 2018 tax year to allow public servants who were overpaid to repay the net amount, rather than the gross amount.

The budget allocates an additional $431 million over six years to address problems created by Phoenix, on top of the $460 million already committed to both implement the pay system and resolve subsequent problems.

The budget set aside $16 million to begin the process of replacing the troubled system.

And the Canada Revenue Agency will get $5.5 million to conduct income tax reassessments for individuals affected by Phoenix.

But the costs are likely to escalate under a government pledge to also work with the unions on compensating employees for mental and emotional stress caused by the Phoenix foulups.

When it was approved in 2015 by the previous Conservative government, officials said the pay system would save taxpayers about $70 million annually by streamlining and consolidating pay systems across dozens of departments and agencies.

Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Vancouver Island homeowners buy more earthquake insurance than the rest of B.C.

Insurance Bureau of Canada says that’s because the perception of risk is greater on the Island

Anxiety amongst voters on amalgamation referendum

Non-binding referendum asks Victoria and Saanich residents to endorse citizens’ assembly

District of Oak Bay issues notice to cease tent city

The notice is effective immediately

Missing 72-year-old man last seen in Langford

Albert Bedard has been missing since Oct. 12

Persons Day celebrates historic achievement of five suffragettes

Landmark case 89 years ago declared women “persons” making them eligible for the Senate

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

San Group announces plans to build new sawmill in Port Alberni

San Group has purchased 25 acres of Catalyst Paper land for expansion

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Two B.C. cannabis dispensaries raided on legalization day

Port Alberni dispensaries ticketed for “unlawful sale” of cannabis

Canada not sending anyone to Saudi business summit

Sources insist Ottawa never intended to dispatch a delegation this time around

VPD ordered to co-operate with B.C. police watchdog probe

According to the IIO, a court is ordering Vancouver police to co-operate with an investigation into a fatal shooting

Earthquake early-warning sensors installed off coast of B.C.

The first-of-its kind warning sensors are developed by Ocean Networks Canada

B.C. woman looks to reduce stigma surrounding weed-smoking moms

Shannon Chiarenza, a Vancouver mom of two, started weedmama.ca to act as a guide for newcomers to legal cannabis, specifically mothers

Most Read