Federal officials say a quarter of the public service, including pensioners, have been affected by an issue with a new automated pay system.

Marie Lemay, deputy minister for public services and procurement, revealed Monday the government grossly underestimated the time and training needed to move to the Phoenix pay system, which went on-line in February. 

As a result, some employees are not being paid, some are being underpaid and in some cases employees have been overpaid.

Veteran Mike Fortin, living in Shannon, Que., is one of more than 80,000 people caught up in the debacle.

For more than two decades, Fortin worked as a mechanic fixing tanks and machinery for the Canadian Armed Forces.

He retired in 2000, then started working for the Department of National Defence as a civilian, a job he did for 14 years.

"Taking retirement is a stressful period of time in your life," Fortin said. "I'd like my employer, who I've worked for for the last 35 years, to at least contact me, advise me they're taking care of my case."

Treated like a number, not a person

Fortin retired at the end of May and says he's owed at least $12,000 in severance pay.

The Phoenix issues mean his pension hasn't been processed yet either.

Fortin contacted Treasury Board President Scott Brison by email about his issues and received a form letter in return telling him to contact the Phoenix Pay Centre.

But getting in touch with someone there was no easy feat — Fortin said he was on hold for 90 minutes before someone answered his call.

Fortin has put some savings away and knows he's better positioned than some of his colleagues. But he said he still can't believe the problems have persisted for this long.

He said after years of loyal service, he feels like he's being treated like a number.  

"It's a poor reflection on the government in its entirety," he said.

"When I was in the army, when we had a problem we worked 24 hours on 24 to try fix the problem. For me, I can't fathom how come we've landed here, still talking about this problem and it hasn't been fixed."

with files from Ashley Burke