New Brunswick

'Don't leave me in the dark': Retiree struggles with Phoenix pay problems

A retired worker for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency says he has been waiting for months to get paid, or hear that someone is working on his file.

Robert Sherman has waited for months to get paid his retirement severance

Robert Sherman is fighting to get paid after the Phoenix pay system failure shortened him of some of his severance pay. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio Canada)

A Riverview man says he'd like the federal government to show him some "common courtesy" and let him know where he stands under the troubled Phoenix pay system.

Robert Sherman worked for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for almost 39 years, and retired on June 29.

Sherman said he had 30 weeks of severance pay owed to him.

He received 12 weeks of pay and left the remaining 18 weeks to collect when he retired.

Sherman said he was told it would take between 20 days to a month after he left to collect the money.

But he's still waiting.

"After that there were so many problems with the pay.  I called them and they said, 'Hey you're retired, there's really nothing we can do. You're not a priority,'" said Sherman.

"I called them in May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December.  Every time they said, `Call back, call back, there's nothing we can do.  Here's the case numbers.'"

Backlog for thousands of cases

Robert Sherman has piles of paperwork relating to his case but he can no longer reach the pay centre directly. (Guy LeBlanc/Radio Canada)
On Wednesday the federal government said it was struggling to clear a backlog of 8,000 cases of civil servants experiencing problems with their pay.

Marie Lemay, deputy minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, said in Ottawa on Wednesday that about 5,000 of those 8,000 issues are partially resolved but not complete.

The focus on clearing the backlog, which consists of cases filed before July 1, means that the government isn't meeting its 20-day standard deadline for new, incoming pay changes and requests, Lemay said.

Robert Sherman has piles of paperwork relating to his case, but he said he can no longer reach the pay centre directly — since the end of last year he can only reach a call centre.

'Give me the satisfaction'

Sherman said he's been told all they can do is take his information and the pay centre will contact him when they're going to work on his case.

"All I'm asking for is somebody to email me, phone me, mail me that, yes, you are going to work on my case." Sherman said.  

"Give me the satisfaction that you are working on my case – it's there.  It will be done sometime just don't leave me in the dark."

I could have took that money, put it in the bank and collect interest on it.- Robert Sherman, federal government retiree

Sherman said he had a problem with the system once before, when he took a leave.

And he said after he retired, he received three additional paycheques, which he reported.

Sherman said all he wants is his 18 weeks of severance pay.

"I could have took that money, put it in the bank and collect interest on it," said Sherman.

"Right now, you won't get any interest from the government on it if they ever pay me."

Sherman said ultimately, he'd just like to know where he stands in the case backlog.

"All I want from them is the common courtesy, the decency, to contact me to let me know where I stand. That's what I want." Sherman said.