(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

Wolf Creek Schools raises Treaty 6 flag for first time

Chiefs, school officials took part in a ceremony that is aimed at acknowledging Treaty 6 land

On the run with Melissa Ray

Red Deer runner talks about her intense running experiences

Bradley Williams takes over as Westerner Park Interim CEO

CFR expected to go on as scheduled with no disruption

Local filmmaker works on documentary featuring women farmers

Red Deer woman receives $50,000 grant from STORYHIVE to produce documentary

Fred Penner featured during special Symphony and Museum fundraiser

Event at Bo’s Bar & Grill set to run Sept. 28th

U.S. congressman issues dire warning to Canada’s NAFTA team: time is running out

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to resume talks with the U.S.

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Canada signs global pact to help rid world’s oceans of abandoned fishing gear

The federal Fisheries Minister says it’s a ‘critical issue’

GOP pushing forward for Kavanaugh, accuser wants ‘fairness’

Kavanaugh has denied al allegations of sexual misconduct

Rural Canada Post carriers could see 25-per-cent pay hike: spokesman

An arbitrator has released a ruling in a long-standing pay equity dispute at Canada Post

Freeland brings optimism back to NAFTA talks

NAFTA talks resume in Washington

Despite protests, Russia’s anti-doping agency reinstated

On a 9-2 vote, the executive committee declared RUSADA as having satisfied conditions

The longest week: Carolinas worn out by Florence

Frustration and sheer exhaustion are building as thousands of people wait to go home seven days after the storm began battering the coast.

Canada’s goal is to play in a medal game at World Cup in Spain

The 2014 women’s world basketball championships were a coming out party for Canada.

Most Read