More than half of the tens of thousands of federal workers who filed claims over payroll issues before June are still waiting for their problems to be resolved, according to the deputy minister in charge of fixing the Phoenix payroll system.
With less than a month to go before the government's self-imposed Oct. 31 deadline to deal with the backlog of more than 80,000 cases, deputy minister of public services and procurement Marie Lemay said they have dealt with 38,228 cases, including close to 15,000 since the last update two weeks ago.
And despite the daunting task of dealing with the remaining cases, Lemay says the government continues to get through the claims faster and remains on target.
"Next month is a big month," said Lemay. "We are on target … we believe we will hit the Oct. 31 target."
What's less clear is how well the government is doing with cases that aren't part of the backlog.
When Phoenix was introduced across the country, employees began reporting pay problems and the government acknowledged in July that there were more than 80,000 public servants who had by June reported some pay problems, with the majority being underpaid, while some have been overpaid or not paid at all.
The government has set its target of Oct. 31 for dealing with that backlog, and took those cases away from the main pay centre in Miramichi, N.B., and gave them to satellite pay centres.It has also committed to dealing with new higher priority cases within two weeks of the claim.
But also in the mix are lower priority claims that were not issued before June.
Lemay said Miramichi compensation officers are dealing with those claims as they receive them, but admitted they aren't dealing with those claims as fast as the department would like,and wouldn't provide details on how many there were.
Once the government deals with the backlog, workers at the satellite centres will be able to help the Miramichi office deal with its caseload and help the department transition to its "steady state" of business as usual, she said.
Lemay says she expects things to get easier once employees and managers become more comfortable with new self-serve tools that will allow them to file overtime and other simple requests online.
She also noted that there was another data breach on Friday, when employee data became accessible to compensation officers across the country, regardless of department.
The risk was low but the privacy commissioner has been notified, she said.