Ottawa·Phoenix Falling

Despite promise of back pay, government workers disappointed again

Despite reassurances from the minister in charge of the Phoenix payroll system that unpaid federal government employees would receive back pay this week, some workers say they've been let down once again.

Minister Judy Foote said unpaid workers would receive lump sum on July 27 pay day

A federal government employee, who wished to remain anonymous, has not been properly paid since returning from leave earlier this month. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

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  • After we published this story, Yardon contacted us Tuesday to say his next pay stub was updated.
  • Yardon said his next pay would be roughly $3,900, or what he said he was owed.

Despite reassurances from the minister in charge of the Phoenix payroll system that unpaid federal government employees would receive back pay this week, some workers say they've been let down once again.

In a briefing last week, public services and procurement minister Judy Foote said that 720 federal employees had contacted the government about not being paid since the Phoenix pay system was implemented earlier this year, and that 486 of them would get a lump sum of back pay on July 27.

It was an exciting development for Jarrad Yardon, but it didn't quite work out the way he hoped. When he checked his pay stub for this week's pay day, it only showed $702 in back pay, much less than the roughly $4,000 he expected.

"I was pretty excited. I'm finally going to pay tuition. Troubles are over. It's calm and smooth sailing ahead. But seeing the pay stub — I was pretty shocked and dismayed just to have those same plans derailed again," he said.

The back pay Jarrad Yardon received was significantly less than he expected. (Ashley Burke/CBC)
Yardon, who has worked as a student for a federal government department since January, hadn't been properly paid until going public with his story earlier this month. He received an emergency advance of $5,450, which had been deducted from this pay.

But he says the additional back pay he was owed was calculated at the wrong rate of pay.

"Seven hundred (dollars) means that I'm going to be able to pay off some basic living expenses right there, right now. But the expenses I've incurred over the last seven months doesn't even make a dent into it," he added.

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'Another zero dollar cheque'

A department of national defence employee, who wished to remain anonymous, also got a disappointing pay stub. "I came in this morning and found another zero dollar cheque," he said.

He's received about $300 in back pay so far, but not the $1,700 he says he's owed since returning to work from leave earlier this month.

"Very disheartening," he said. "I just bought a house closing next month, and my brokerage wanted to see a pay cheque. It's embarrassing trying to show someone you're working, but you can't prove it. When they say show me the money going into the bank account, you just can't do it."

He says he had to provide the bank news clippings about the Phoenix payroll fiasco in order to get his mortgage.

Yardon, meanwhile, is starting a second job landscaping, and he's worried he won't be able to return to school in the fall.

'At this point, it's just survival'

"At this point, it's just survival," Yardon said. "It's doing what you need to do. I'm trying to not get emotionally invested in not being paid. That will just slow me down. I need to focus on getting money and covering my expenses."

Public Services and Procurement Canada calls the payroll situation "unacceptable," and said today it would not be charging any interest on salary advances.

With files from Ashley Burke

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