Without regular pay from National Defence, student caught in desperate catch-22
'I shudder to think about what others who have children are going through'
- After this story was posted, the employee received $1,478 in backpay.
- The employee says the government still owes him about $9,000.
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.
The federal government introduced its new payroll system, designed by IBM, in February, but ongoing problems have left some federal workers in dire financial difficulties.
- Money for nothing: pay glitch keeps cheques coming for some public servants
- In their own words: public servants offer inside look at payroll mess
Every day for the next few weeks, we'll post an excerpt from one of the many personal stories we've heard from a public servant who's struggling under the Phoenix pay system.
From a public servant who wishes to remain anonymous:
I am having an urgent issue with pay.
I am a student entering my final year of studies, and a public servant at DND. I have not been paid since January.
The Pay Centre is extremely unhelpful, and difficult to reach (dropped calls, over an hour of waiting on hold). I have confirmed with my HR rep that I submitted the correct forms, and filled them out correctly as well.
Each time I contact the Pay Centre (I am able to get through once or twice a week, at most), I am given conflicting instructions and information every single time, and it seems as though no progress has been made whatsoever to remedy this situation. I have logged my contact attempts, and on average, I have to call about 247 times in order to get through to an agent without the line being cut off entirely. In total, I have attempted to contact the Pay Centre by phone about ~2,500 times in the past three months, and only got through about 10 times.
If I don't have money for tuition, I cannot enrol in classes. If I cannot enrol in classes, I cannot continue my employment as anFSWEPstudent ...I will soon have to begin repaying any outstanding student loans.- Student employee at the Department of National Defence
I have contacted Minister Judy Foote's office, but to no avail. Minister Foote's office lost my emails three times so far, and whenever I call back, I am told that they have no record of me. I have contacted my local MP, but even they are being bureaucratically stonewalled the same way I am. I have contacted two different lawyers, and even though this situation is illegal, I have been told that it would be highly unlikely that taking legal measures would help – not to mention expensive, which is prohibitive for somebody in my situation. I have contacted Labour Canada, PSLREB, PSC, and Service Canada – all to no avail. I have contacted the President of Treasury Board, Mr Scott Brison, as he instructed in a media statement, but no progress has been made in dealing with this matter.
I am a student, and therefore I am not unionized. I have nobody in my corner, but myself, so to speak.
If I don't have money for tuition, I cannot enrol in classes. If I cannot enrol in classes, I cannot continue my employment as an FSWEP student. If I cannot enrol in classes, I will soon have to begin repaying any outstanding student loans. Doing this will be impossible if I am unemployed. Come September when my contract is over, I will be without a job, without money, and dropped out of my final year of university.
I have been reduced to eating handfuls of boiled rice sprinkled with salt for all 3 meals of the day. I shudder to think about what others who have children are going through.
I had to have a very frank discussion with my superiors as to whether I would be better off going to McDonald's and applying to work there for the rest of the summer just to make ends meet.