PSAC calling for return of Phoenix incentives

Program designed to recruit and retain compensation advisors not renewed in June (Herald file photo)

Bailey Sutherland, Daily Herald

When the Canadian government consolidated the federal public pay system, hundreds of compensation advisors were laid off and in 2016, the Phoenix pay system went live. The pay system had caused so many problems within the first year of its enactment that the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) felt forced to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Treasury Board.

The MOU was used to address recruitment and retention of compensation advisors who worked on high-stress assignments at the Public Service Pay Centre to ensure the government had enough staff resources to deal with Phoenix pay problems. Measures included an incentive payment of $4,000 and double-time compensation for overtime. The terms of the MOU expired in June and according to PSAC the Trudeau government has refused to renew, jeopardizing the ability to resolve Phoenix pay problems for public service employees.

“The incentives make us feel appreciated and compensate us for all the extra hours we put in to help people struggling with Phoenix pay problems,” explained Donna Whalen in a press release, a compensation advisor at the Miramichi Pay Centre since it opened seven years ago. “It’s stressful, emotionally draining work that requires frequent overtime, but we need to stay focused on resolving everyone’s pay issues. This is a slap in the face to pay staff.”

The PSAC has continually asked the Federal Government to extend the incentive package until the Phoenix Pay System has stabilized and the large backlog of unresolved cases are fixed, but the government has failed to act.

“It’s outrageous that the government has allowed this agreement to expire mere weeks after the Parliamentary Budget Officer stated that public service workers will be stuck with Phoenix until at least 2023,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC National President. “Trudeau says fixing the Phoenix crisis is a priority but these actions speak louder than words.”

Although not all hope is lost, as the PSAC will be pressing the government to resolve the issue within the coming days. They are committed to restoring the incentive package for pay advisors; ensuring public service workers are compensated fairly.