Gatineau centre to open next week to ease public service pay problems
'Issues are not being addressed as quickly as we would like,' department admits
A satellite pay centre being set up by the federal government in Gatineau, Que., will start tackling a huge backlog of requests next week, according to Public Services and Procurement Canada.
The department said it welcomed its first employees to the new centre earlier this week.
"Over the next few months, we expect this unit will resolve many long-standing, frustrating pay issues," according to a statement to CBC from the department.
So far, the Gatineau pay centre has drawn 63 employees from a variety of other departments and it expects to have a staff of 100 when it's fully up and running.
While many of the issues raised have been addressed, more needs to be done, and the remaining issues are not being addressed as quickly as we would like.- Public Services and Procurement Canada
The number of complaints from federal public servants who aren't being properly paid has climbed into the thousands, according to unions representing federal employees, some of which have now taken legal action on behalf of their members.
Phoenix introduced in February
The federal government introduced its Phoenix payroll system in February, but ongoing problems have meant some federal workers have faced financial difficulties.
Temporary, term, casual and student contractors have been most affected.
"This situation is unacceptable, and PSPC is working hard to ensure that all employees are paid what they are owed," the department said in a staetment, repeating what federal ministers also told CBC recently.
"While many of the issues raised have been addressed, more needs to be done, and the remaining issues are not being addressed as quickly as we would like."
Judy Foote, minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, has told CBC that the temporary pay centre will remain in operation for "as long as it takes" to solve the issues.
Struggling to pay bills
CBC continues to hear daily from government employees who are struggling to pay their bills while they wait for the pay problems to be resolved.
Natalie Snow, a student contractor who told CBC earlier this week that she hasn't been properly paid since April, called the office of Treasury Board president on Wednesday to complain.
She received notice later that day that her pay is now on the way. "I have also received an email stating my pay is fixed and retro pay has been applied," said Snow.
Other term and contract workers have shared concerns about late delivery of employment records after their contracts end.
Workers need this documentation in order to apply for employment insurance, but problems with the Phoenix system have been delaying that process for many.
"Phoenix now issues Records of Employment with every pay cycle; we had been in a backlog situation when Phoenix was issuing ROEs on a monthly basis, we have since fixed the issue and now are aligned with Employment and Social Development Canada rules," said the department.