25 September 2023

CANADA: New plans to fix pay mess

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A Canadian taskforce charged with finding a replacement for the troubled Phoenix Public Service pay system is expected to present multiple pilot projects to the Government.

The move could pit at least two of the three potential bidders on the projects against each other in a competition to see which system works better, either independently or in tandem with one another.

The proposal is laying bare divisions among the unions representing the roughly 300,000 Federal employees who have been living under the Phoenix pay cloud for more than three years.

One of those unions, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PASC), said the move was wrongheaded and could result in another bungled pay system.

National President of the PASC, Chris Aylward said testing separate pay systems through individual Government Departments, or in groups of Departments, could produce problems for Federal employees similar to those being experienced under the current, flawed system.

He said when issues began to surface shortly after the IBM-built Phoenix pay system was launched in 2016, the Government initially blamed the problems on segregated, antiquated Departmental human resources systems that were incapable of properly communicating with each other.

“It concerns me if they say: ‘We don’t know how many providers we are going to use, we may have to use more than one,’” Mr Aylward said.

“It sounds like we’re starting Phoenix all over again.”

However, President of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents about 60,000 employees, Debi Daviau said as long as there are compatible systems connected through some sort of internal cloud, there shouldn’t be a problem between systems.

Ms Daviau suggested a pilot project at the Canada Revenue Agency, for example, could see about 50,000 people properly paid within a year, as opposed to implementing an entirely new software product, which could take several years.

Ottawa, 19 May 2019

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