North

1/3 of federal workers in North affected by pay 'glitch:' union leader

Problems with the federal government's new centralized pay system are leaving many federal workers in the North in dire financial straits. With no fixes in sight, some are left scrambling to figure out how to pay their bills.

N.W.T. summer student says she hasn't been paid since starting job in May

The Greenstone Building in Yellowknife, where many federal employees work. Problems with the federal government's new centralized pay system are leaving many public servants in the North in dire financial straits. (CBC Photo)

Problems with the federal government's new centralized pay system are leaving many public servants in the North in dire financial straits.

The new payroll software, called Phoenix, was introduced by the Conservative government as a cost-saving measure, but it's caused a host of problems for federal employees across the country.

Workers in various departments have complained about not being paid, being underpaid, or in some cases being overpaid. Federal officials have apologized, but with no fixes in sight, many workers are left scrambling to figure out how to pay their bills.

One student who got a summer job in the N.W.T. with the federal government said she hasn't been paid since starting work in late May. A manager told her not to speak to media, so CBC is not identifying her.

The student said she's made 45 phone calls to federal departments over the last three days trying to find out when she will get paid. She said trying to get answers has been as frustrating and stressful as not getting paid.

500 federal workers in the North

About one-third of the 500 federal workers in the three territories are having problems with their pay, according to Jack Bourassa, the regional vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents most federal workers in the North.

Jack Bourassa, vice-president of PSAC North, says calling the issues 'glitches' is an understatement. (Facebook photo)

"We're hearing stories from the members about new moms, for instance, not receiving the top-ups they're entitled to, students not getting paid, employees on disability not receiving their insurance payments, employees being deleted from the system and not being paid at all, missing or short payments," said Bourassa.

He says union leaders have spoken to the federal Public Services Minister Judy Foote.

"She did note that she was aware of a few glitches, but I mean 'glitches' is a fair bit of an understatement of what it turns out to be."

Bourassa said department heads are supposed to provide affected employees with emergency funding, but some have been slow to provide that help.

He said the government has not been able to say when the problems will be fixed.

Contact: Richard Gleeson — richard.gleeson@cbc.ca

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