If federal government employees aren’t being paid, then Canadian MPs shouldn’t be either.
That’s the position of a group of People’s Party of Canada candidates, including Prince Albert nominee Kelly Day, who have committed to supporting a motion that would have all MPs forgo their salaries until the Phoenix Pay System dispute is resolved.
Day is one of five candidates to support the motion. It will be brought forward as soon as parliament is back in session, provided one of the PPC candidates are elected.
“This is how we want to see government working,” Day said during an interview on Friday. “The People’s Party is trying to do politics very differently. I think accountability and getting rid of fluffy nice words is really important to Canadians. I think Canadians want to see some action.”
Andy Brooke, a retired RCMP officer and PPC candidate in the Ontario riding of Kingston and the Islands, was responsible for creating the proposal. It’s not a formal part of the PPC platform, but PPC leader Maxime Bernier has agreed to support it if Brooke brings it forward.
Day said the Phoenix Pay System was one of the most common issues she heard about on the campaign trail, but the PPC hadn’t created an official policy about it. Brooke designed the proposal to fill that gap, and help fix a problem that has plagued federal workers—including those at the Saskatchewan Federal Penitentiary in Prince Albert—since 2016.
“It’s not a quick fix,” Day said. “It’s not going to be a six month thing. It’s going to be slow, but we don’t believe it should be taking anywhere near this long.”
Day added that she doesn’t think Canada’s elected officials are taking the issue seriously, and believes withholding MP pay would help speed up the process.
“As soon as you put that big of a price on it I have a feeling that it’s going to (go) a lot quicker,” she said. “I just feel like years to fix this doesn’t seem reasonable. None of us feel like it’s reasonable. I feel like there has to be something on the line or else it just gets passed around like a ball.”
Day said they’re still speaking to other PPC candidates about the motion, and anticipate even more support in the future. The motion would be brought forward immediately after parliament is back in session.
Stephen Harper’s Conservatives originally created the Phoenix Pay System to replace the 40-year-old system in use at the time. Justin Trudeau’s Liberals had ousted the Conservatives by the time workers received their first paycheque under the Phoenix Pay System on March 9, 2016. Just one month after the switch, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) announced that thousands of its members were not getting paid. PSAC requests to return to the old system were denied.
The government promised to solve all outstanding payroll issues by Oct. 31, 2016. However, there were still 22,000 unsolved claims as of that date. In May 2017, the Liberals committed $142-million over two years to hire 200 temporary workers to help reduce the backlog.
As of Sept. 18, 2019, 64 per cent of all transactions processed by the Phoenix Pay System were within service standards. The government’s goal is 95 per cent. More than half of public servants are still experiencing some form of pay problems, according to the Public Service Pay Centre Dashboard. That number includes workers who are not served by the Phoenix Pay Centre.
Both the Liberals and NDP have pledged to replace the Phoenix Pay System if elected.