Ottawa

Some federal election workers still awaiting payment

Eleven weeks after the federal election on Oct. 21, some poll workers are still awaiting a paycheque, Elections Canada has confirmed.  

Vast majority of poll workers have been paid, Elections Canada says

Elections Canada confirms a small number of people hired to work on election day still haven't been paid. (Michael Bell/The Canadian Press)

Eleven weeks after the federal election on Oct. 21, some poll workers are still awaiting a paycheque, Elections Canada has confirmed.  

While most of the 300,000 people hired to work election day were paid within six to eight weeks, some haven't been, the agency said Tuesday.

If I had known that it would be such a struggle to actually receive the paycheque, I don't know if I would have dedicated all those hours to this​​​​.- Andrea Colasanti

"There are a few exceptional cases that remain, but really we're at the point now where we're just treating those exceptional cases," spokesperson Matthew McKenna said.

Ongoing delays could be the result of a missing SIN or "a returning officer [who] forgot to sign maybe at the bottom of a time sheet," McKenna said.

Andrea Colasanti, a graduate student at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said she still hasn't been paid for her work as an information officer at a local polling station.

"It's been very frustrating.... As someone that's really into politics, it was a really incredible experience to see democracy in action," Colasanti said. "But if I had known that it would be such a struggle to actually receive the paycheque, I don't know if I would have dedicated all those hours to this position." 

Graduate student Andrea Colasanti says she was grateful to work for Elections Canada, but is frustrated she still hasn't been paid. (Submitted by Andrea Colasanti)

Not a Phoenix issue

Colasanti said while she was grateful to have the opportunity to work for Elections Canada, she wonders how many people are in the same situation.

Elections Canada said it couldn't provide exact numbers because in some cases it only learns of a pay issue when it has been brought to its attention by a worker or a returning officer.

"It's always a bit of a disappointment to hear about people not getting paid, and I know it's a frustrating thing, especially this time of year when people are trying to pay back holiday bills and that sort of thing," McKenna said. 

While the federal government has experienced serious and ongoing issues with its Phoenix pay system, Elections Canada said election workers aren't paid through that system.

Multiple calls

Colasanti, who said she's owed about $225 for a 15-hour day, said she's called Elections Canada multiple times to follow up, but hasn't been able to resolve the issue or obtain a timeline for payment. She said she was paid promptly for the training she completed in September. 

"A lot of the poll workers are students or low-income individuals looking for an additional employment opportunity, so it's interesting if it takes ... 10-plus weeks to get paid, that maybe our time would have been better utilized in other positions that actually can promise to pay you within a reasonable time frame," Colasanti said.

Colasanti said during one of her recent calls with Elections Canada, she was told no one had submitted her timecard. She said on election day she did fill out, sign and submit her timecard to the poll supervisor at the polling station. 

Elections Canada 'working tirelessly'

"The last few times they told me that calling wouldn't really help resolve my case because it's already been listed as priority and they're already doing everything that they can," Colasanti said. 

"I was really hoping to be paid before Christmas. I had plans to use the money for Christmas gifts," she said. "And then I was really hoping to be able to use the money towards tuition, but tuition is due on the 10th of January, so that's not looking promising either."

Elections Canada promises it's working on the issue.

"Our pay team is working tirelessly to make sure that those last remaining pays are done, and I know that those remaining cases should be wrapped up some time within the next few weeks," McKenna said.

After CBC News contacted Elections Canada for this story, Colasanti said she received a message from her returning officer to confirm her hours. 

Did you work for Elections Canada on election day but haven't been paid? Contact CBC with your story. 

About the Author

Krystalle Ramlakhan is a multi-platform journalist with CBC Ottawa. She has also worked for CBC in P.E.I., Winnipeg and Iqaluit.

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