Ottawa·Phoenix Falling

Retiree put through wringer to collect public service pay, pension

CBC Ottawa asked for stories from federal public servants who aren't getting paid properly — either too little, too much or not at all — since the Phoenix payroll system took over the distribution of their paycheques.

Owed thousands, retired public servant threatened to take complaint directly to PM


CBC Ottawa has invited federal public servants to share their personal stories of financial struggle under the government's problem-plagued Phoenix payroll system.

Some aren't being paid properly. Some have been overpaid. Some, not at all. 

If you want to add your story to our coverage please email us.

Every day for the next few weeks, we'll post an excerpt from a different employee.

From an anonymous former federal public servant:

I retired on Feb. 24, 2016, with 30 years of public service.

Six weeks after departing I had not received: my last pay; my severance; my vacation pay (all totalling about $15,000)… or my pension (about $3,000/month).

So I began calling.


  • The pension centre agent told me there was no record of my retirement.
  • I informed the agent that I would be visiting the Wellington Street office of Prime Minister Trudeau in 72 hours to return the retirement certificate he signed, and ask him to explain his error.
  • I also suggested that the agent [and] the office manager would probably have the opportunity to explain things to a deputy minister shortly afterwards.
  • Within that 72 hours my first pension payment was deposited in my bank account.


  • First, the Pay Centre had no knowledge of my departure...
  • ...then later informed me I had not reported my last two weeks of employment (not caring that pay systems were made unavailable to employees for two weeks prior to my retirement, while Phoenix was being rolled out).
  • They had me contact my employer, who in turn had me fill out paper forms confirming I worked my last two weeks.
  • After five months the case of my $15,000 had not been settled.

After sending us his original email the anonymous public servant wrote back with this July 18 update:

  • Two deposits have gone to my bank: $870.06 and $2,903.80.
  • I called to ask what the payments are, and the agent wasn't sure but said they could be a last pay and a vacation time cash out. She could not confirm, and I have received no notice on the matter.
  • I still have not received (what is possibly) my severance of more than $11,000. This sum should have been known years ago when severance accumulation was frozen.


  • The Miramichi Pay Centre requires up to three hours (50+ tries) to get through on the phone and calls are regularly dropped [so] it's necessary to start over.
  • Agents cannot call out. If your call is dropped, you start over.
  • Agents do not have adequate information in one place. Name, PIN, case number, case tracking, actions taken — these are apparently not cross-referenced or accessible in a useful way.