Politics

Couple caught in Phoenix fiasco gets action from Ottawa after speaking to CBC

A couple interviewed by CBC NewsNetwork's Power & Politics about their struggles with the error-plagued Phoenix pay system have since been told that they're getting their back pay before the spring is out.

'We are happy to report all has been taken care of' - Johanna Swanson

Federal employees Johanna and Eric Swanson are two of a growing number of federal civil servants who have filed access-to-information requests to obtain their files compromised by the Phoenix pay system. (Provided)

Two federal public servants interviewed by CBC News Network's Power & Politics about their struggles with the error-plagued Phoenix pay system have since been told that they're getting their back pay before the spring is out.

Eric and Johanna Swanson — two of a growing number of federal civil servants forced take the unusual step of filing access-to-information requests to get their pay files due backlogs in the Phoenix pay system — spoke to CBC on Tuesday.

The trend of public servants turning to access-to-information to learn about their own pay files was identified in a briefing note CBC News obtained through its own access-to-information request.

The number of public servants taking that route had jumped from 15 in 2014-15 to 328 by March 1, 2018, forcing the government to hire extra access-to-information workers to handle the traffic.

Johanna Swanson is an early resolution officer with the department of Employment and Social Development Canada. Since 2016, she had been trying to get information about her inconsistent pay, which left her without any salary for four-and-a-half months while on maternity leave with the married couple's third child.

Her husband, Eric Swanson, is a real estate investment analyst with Public Services and Procurement Canada, the department responsible for Phoenix. He, too, was never able to obtain pay information through regular channels within his department.

B.C. couple's Phoenix pay issues resolved after appearing on CBC's Power & Politics 0:52

After speaking with colleagues who had done the same thing, Johanna and Eric decided to pay a five-dollar fee and file a formal request under the Access to Information and Privacy Act.

After a few months, they received their information, but had trouble making sense of it.

On Thursday, Johanna Swanson contacted CBC News to say that, after speaking out about their plight, they got action.

"We are happy to report all has been taken care of," she said, adding she and her husband now expect to receive the money they're owed by May.

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