Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/12/2017 (699 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Can you imagine going into work day after day not knowing when you’ll be paid, or how much?
As unlikely as it sounds, this is the situation facing tens of thousands of Canada’s public servants, many of whom live right here in northeast Winnipeg.
This payroll disaster is a result of the government’s ill-fated Phoenix Pay System. It was conceived by the previous government then rushed into implementation by the current government, despite warnings that it was not ready.
The federal government has a large number of workplaces throughout Winnipeg that employ Elmwood-Transcona residents. The largest example close to home is Canada Revenue Agency’s Winnipeg Tax Centre by Kildonan Place, where over 2,000 people work, but not all are being paid as they should.
In one case brought to my attention, an employee took his family in for dental work and was told he did not have insurance. Phoenix had been deducting the premiums from his paycheques, but not remitting the money to the insurance company.
Another case involves a constituent who has not been paid for overtime and has not received two raises because the system cannot properly compute his years of service. He’s followed all the steps he was told to follow, but 20 months later he’s still not been properly compensated.
In numerous cases, maternity leave is a common cause for compounding errors in pay and benefits. We’ve seen young working mothers struggling to make ends meet because of shortfalls that have still not been reconciled months after they’ve returned to work.
Until recently, the federal government was gearing up to add even more people to the failed payroll system; namely, several thousand civilian RCMP members who the government plans to deem into the public service.
I met with some of these folks in my constituency office and brought their concern to Ottawa. At committee in November, I was able to pressure president of the treasury board, Scott Brison, into halting the transfer until the Phoenix debacle is resolved. Since then, we’ve heard from civilian RCMP members that they’ve been told the transfer has been suspended indefinitely; a ray of common sense in a fog of political mismanagement.
Pheonix is another example of how out-sourcing to big corporations, in this case IBM, can lead to big profits for corporations and high costs to taxpayers. The auditor general now expects the government will spend $1 billion or more to fix the problem while public servants go without pay and IBM continues to make money.
People in our community will continue to suffer until the government starts listening to the public servants who warned about the problem before it happened. They now have ideas about how to move forward. Working with them seems like a far better idea than continuing to throw money at IBM.
Elmwood-Transcona constituency report.
Daniel Blaikie is the NDP MP for Elmwood-Transcona.