Front Burner

$2B and counting: How the federal Phoenix pay system failed

The IBM-built Phoenix pay software was supposed to save millions of dollars a year by simplifying payroll for federal workers. Instead, it wreaked havoc on workers' T4s and pay stubs — while the cost to taxpayers ballooned. Parliamentary reporter Hannah Thibedeau explains how we ended up here.
Shirley Taylor wears a 'Burnt by Phoenix' sticker on her forehead during a rally against the Phoenix payroll system outside the offices of the Treasury Board of Canada in Ottawa on Feb. 28, 2018. The problems with the IBM system continue. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)
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The Phoenix pay system was supposed to save taxpayers millions of dollars a year by automating and simplifying payroll for federal workers. Instead, it was riddled with problems. For years federal workers have dealt with underpayment, wrong tax forms, and other problems that got so bad, some workers ended up broke. Meanwhile, payroll costs continue to balloon as the government tries to fix the program — and look for a replacement. CBC's parliamentary reporter Hannah Thibedeau joins us to explain how we ended up here.

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