Ottawa

3 in 4 public servants overpaid by Phoenix

Nearly three-quarters of federal public servants have received too much money on at least one paycheque issued by the Phoenix pay system.

More than 223K federal workers have received too much pay, latest numbers show

Gatineau MP Steven MacKinnon announced the overpayment figures in the House of Commons. (Radio-Canada)

Nearly three-quarters of federal public servants have received too much money on at least one paycheque issued by the Phoenix pay system.

As of January, of the approximately 300,000 workers paid through Phoenix, 223,173, or about 74.4 per cent, had been overpaid at least once between April 2016 and January 2019, according to Gatineau MP Steven MacKinnon, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of Public Services and Procurement.

MacKinnon made the numbers public in mid-March in response to a question in the House of Commons from Opposition critic Kelly McCauley.

It's the first time the precise overpayment figures have been released.

'Crisis bigger than we thought'

"The crisis is bigger than we thought," said Greg McGillis, executive vice-president of the National Capital Region for the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

The reported overpayments include technical errors that are often spotted and fixed before payment is received, as well as actual deposits. In counting the errors, the government makes no distinction between the two, according to a Public Services and Procurement Canada spokesperson.

When public servants receive pay for unpaid leave or an acting role they no longer fill, things can get complicated for them at tax time.

Once a worker is overpaid for three consecutive pay periods, they're contacted by a compensation specialist to discuss how to pay it back.

Last fall, former auditor general Michael Ferguson said his department estimated there had been $246 million in overpayments and $369 million in underpayments by Phoenix as of March 31, 2018.

The 2019 federal budget dedicates about $1.5 billion toward stabilizing and replacing the pay system, which launched in February 2016.

With files from Florence Ngué-No

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