Corrections Canada rehires workers to tackle Phoenix pay issues
Memo says federal department is trying to prevent future problems
One federal department has rehired 22 workers in an attempt to prevent future payroll issues with the much-maligned Phoenix pay system.
According to a memo obtained by Radio-Canada, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) has created a new "pay services unit" made up of former compensation workers laid off during the dismantling of the old pay system.
The unit will focus on ensuring the pay of CSC workers is "complete and accurate going forward," the memo says.
It will also be correcting "system information that is holding up the processing of a large number of regular pay and corrective actions."
'We welcome that'
The new unit is sorely needed, said Greg McGillis, regional executive vice-president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada union.
That's in part because correctional employee work schedules are more complex than other government workers, which he said has led to greater pay irregularities.
"The specific needs and the complex pay environment requires specialized people. That's what the government's doing and we welcome that," he said.
"But at the same time, they shouldn't take their eye off the main problem which is we need more people at Miramichi."
Miramichi, N.B., is home to the central pay centre dedicated to fixing payroll errors caused by Phoenix.
Workers at Miramachi and other pay centres have told CBC News about using Google, Excel spreadsheets and even pens and paper to deal with Phoenix's litany of glitches.
According to Yvon Barrière, vice-president of the Union of Solicitor General Employees, roughly 85 per cent of all CSC employees have dealt with some form of irregularity.
Barrière told Radio-Canada he hoped the CSC pilot project would be adapted to the needs of other departments.
"It will take every department having its own pay office to make the necessary corrections. Otherwise [the work] will never be finished," he said in a French-language interview.
According to the memo, the new CSC unit will not be providing "direct employee support."
Workers with outstanding pay issues must still go through the existing complaint system, the memo says.
With files from Kimberley Molina and Radio-Canada