Feds tap SAP Canada to help test Phoenix Pay System replacement

The federal government has selected software firm SAP Canada to help test a potential fix for the Phoenix Pay System.

The company was one of three considered for the project after several months of deliberation. Minister of Digital Government Joyce Murray called the decision a significant step towards replacing the current system.

More than 65 per cent of federal employees have had their pay directly impacted since the government first rolled out the Phoenix Pay System in 2016.

“Today’s announcement is an important milestone towards building an efficient solution that is better aligned with the complexity of the federal government’s HR and pay structure,” Murray said in a media release. “I am focused on moving this forward while taking the time to get it right.”

SAP Canada is a subsidy of German-based software company. It has offices in Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa.

While SAP Canada focuses on testing an alternative, Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said the government still plans on stabilizing the Phoenix Pay System. She said it’s the best way to make sure the transition into the next pay system is as smooth and successful as possible.

“Our focus remains on eliminating the backlog and stabilizing the Phoenix pay system, even as the government takes significant steps towards finding a future solution,” Anand said.

Public sector unions gave tentative approval to the government’s announcement. Public Service Alliance of Canada president Chris Aylward said they were pleased to see the progress after four years of waiting. However, he questioned why SAP Canada was chosen over the other two vendors, and said PSAC members should have more say in the process.

“It’s very disappointing that the government did not consult with its employees and largest union before making this next important decision,” Aylward said in a media release.

Aylward added that the PSAC has received no information about SAP Canada’s proposal. He said PSAC members want to know exactly how the testing process will work, which departments will be included and how success will be measured.

“PSAC members make up the bulk of the government’s compensation staff and they should have an active role in this process,” she said. “It’s not clear to us how the government intends to not repeat the mistakes of the past when entire pilot projects are announced without the knowledge of those who do the work, or their union.”

PSAC represents more than 200,000 workers across Canada, including those in federal government departments and agencies, Crown Corporations, universities, casinos, airports, Aboriginal communities, community service agencies, and the security sector, among others.

The federal government rejected claims there wasn’t enough consultation with public sector unions. They said public servants and bargaining agents “have been involved throughout the process” and would continue to be involved, according to a media release issued last week.

Debi Daviau, the president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, echoed those sentiments, saying their members were pleased with the developments.

“This marks a significant step towards building an HR and pay solution that works,” Daviau said in a media release. “Our members have been called on to support building a new solution that serves their needs, and I am pleased to see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada represents more than 60,000 members. According to its website, it is the largest union in Canada representing scientists and professionals employed at the federal, provincial and territorial levels.