Calgary·CBC Investigates

Public servants underpaid after issues with new payroll system

Some public servants in Alberta have been underpaid for weeks after the introduction of a new payroll management system. 

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says that up to 5,000 employees may be affected

The provincial government confirmed to CBC News that the large-scale transition to a new payroll system has led to pay errors for a "small percentage" of Government of Alberta staff. (Adrienne Lamb/CBC)

Some public servants in Alberta have been underpaid for weeks after the introduction of a new payroll management system. 

The provincial government confirmed to CBC News that the large-scale transition to the 1GX program in December has led to pay errors for a "small percentage" of Government of Alberta staff.

The government did not initially specify how many, but following the publication of this story, Service Alberta provided information saying approximately 531 employees had reported pay issues.

"We understand the concerns that staff have on this, we are resolving these concerns as soon as possible and are confident that the issues experienced will not be a long-term concern," a spokesperson for the minister of Service Alberta wrote.

Service Alberta says they are working to rectify the issues and that payments will be made available to affected staff.  

However, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) says that up to 5,000 employees may be affected by issues with the payroll program. They say employees across corrections, social services, and fish and wildlife have all filed complaints. The union is working with the employer and tech support to fix the issues. 

Some members have reported that they are missing up to 40 per cent of their wages, while others are missing premium pay for working evening or weekend shifts.

"We definitely do not want it to look like what happened with the Phoenix system," Susan Slade, a vice president at the union, said. That debacle involved tens of thousands of federal public servants getting overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all because of a new, issue-plagued pay system. 

1GX is a set of business applications meant to integrate services across the Government of Alberta. It manages payments and invoices for employees, contractors and other services using several kinds of software.

The AUPE says there was insufficient training given to management and workers on the new system before the employees were switched over. 

Implementation was started in the summer of 2020 at a cost of $79.6 million in the last fiscal year, according to Service Alberta documents. 

"The system is clearly not capable of handling the complexities of a workforce of 20,000," Slade said.

"This system never should have been introduced until it actually was appropriate to do so." 

If the issues aren't fixed in a timely way, the union says they are anticipating a large amount of grievances will be launched. 

In 2018-2019 the Government of Alberta paid out over a million invoices electronically, about 85 per cent of all invoices. The goal set out by the ministry was to increase that to 92 per cent of invoices by 2023. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elise von Scheel is a reporter and producer with the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau, currently working in Calgary. You can get in touch with her at elise.von.scheel@cbc.ca.

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