Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Serious Phoenix Pay Issues? Need a Fast Fix? Call DM Lemay, Say Public Servants

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Serious Phoenix Pay Issues? Need a Fast Fix? Call DM Lemay, Say Public Servants

Article excerpt

Deputy minister handles 1,000 'severe' cases

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OTTAWA - Federal civil servants suffering "severe" financial difficulties under the government's Phoenix pay system -- and some not so severe -- have been turning to the top for help, and with some success.

Hundreds of government employees have reached out directly to deputy minister Marie Lemay over the last 12 months, said Public Services and Procurement Canada, which oversees the problem-plagued system.

"Since April 2017, approximately 1,000 employees have reached out to the deputy minister's office regarding their pay issues," the department told The Canadian Press in an email.

However, the department dismissed the notion that requests from Lemay to fix certain pay issues have resulted in front-of-the-line treatment for some employees over others.

It said problem pay files are prioritized based on financial hardship, not on who makes the request for help.

"There is an escalation process in place where each case is examined and triaged based on the financial impact on the employee," the department said.

"Severe cases, where employees are experiencing financial hardship, are dealt with on a priority basis regardless of the source of the request."

The department added that it receives requests related to employees' pay files from various sources, including unions and members of Parliament.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents about 140,000 federal workers, said it had also referred urgent cases directly to Lemay's office.

Some workers have reported having their pay issues resolved within a couple of weeks of contacting Lemay, while others said their more complicated files have taken a little longer to resolve -- but that their pleas were heard.

A closed Facebook group dedicated to helping civil servants deal with their pay problems is filled with comments from government workers who said they got results after contacting Lemay when they got nothing but frustration from the pay centre in Miramichi, N.B., or their local MP.

One government employee from Innisfail, Alta., said she contacted her union and Lemay's office at the same time, but got her pay problems rectified by Lemay. …

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