26 September 2023

CANADA: Phoenix pay problems linger on

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Canada’s Auditor General has found up to a quarter of Canadian Federal Government employees are still experiencing problems with their pay because of the troubled Phoenix pay system — and the Government might be running out of time to collect on over-payments.

Auditor General Karen Hogan said 28 per cent of Public Servants sampled in a report by her Department had errors in their pay, which is down from an estimated 47 per cent last year.

Meanwhile, more than $C500 million ($A568 million) in over-payments were made to more than 100,000 employees, some dating back more than three years.

“If the Government doesn’t collect those over-payments soon, it may run out of time to use some recovery mechanisms because of legal limitations,” Ms Hogan (pictured) said.

According to just-released public accounts documents, the Federal Government paid $C125 million ($A142 million) in Phoenix-related damages to 143,521 people during the 2021-22 fiscal year.

In the previous fiscal year, it paid $C400 million ($A454 million) in damages to 324,346 individuals.

In a statement, the Office of Minister for Public Services and Procurement said Federal employees deserved to be paid accurately and on time, and acknowledged that the pay problems were creating stress and hardship.

“We are making progress on stabilising the pay system — as the Auditor General’s report notes, this past year we saw a significant fall in the number of employees who faced pay issues and a reduction in the time it takes to resolve issues,” the Office said.

“When it comes to over-payments, we are already working to recover these sums and making significant progress on that as well, and are confident virtually all of those payments will be recovered.”

The Phoenix system was launched in 2016 and was meant to consolidate dozens of antiquated pay systems and save the Government millions each year.

Instead, it resulted in massive upheaval and has cost the Government more than $2.1 billion ($A2.4 billion).

Ottawa, 29 October 2022

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