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‘It’s been tough’: Federal civil servants lament 4 years of issues with Phoenix pay system

Rally in Edmonton marks 4 years of Phoenix pay system issues
WATCH: It's been four years since Ottawa brought in a new pay system that hasn't exactly worked out as planned. On Wednesday, civil servants in Edmonton gathered to mark the anniversary with their continued concerns. Julia Wong explains.

Approximately 100 people gathered in downtown Edmonton Wednesday to voice their continued concerns over the Phoenix pay system.

The federal government brought in the system four years ago for all employees and it continues to be plagued with issues.

READ MORE: Cost of replacing botched Phoenix pay system pales compared to cost of fixing it: PBO

Shawn Follett works for Indigenous Services Canada and said the last few years have been frustrating.

“Financially it’s been pretty tough at times. A few sleepless nights. Probably a lot of sleepless nights. Not quite sure how to pay some bills,” he said.

Follett was being underpaid thousands of dollars at one point then was overpaid and now is not sure what will happen next.

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“Waiting for that shoe to drop, that they’re going to come to me and not pay me or send me a bill for $6,000 or $7,000,” he said.

“Tears have been shed. It’s been tough.”

David Won works with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and endured several months without pay in the summer of 2016 because of the Phoenix issues.

“Trying to pay rent, I had to borrow money from friends and my parents to make ends meet,” he said.

Federal workers rally outside Liberal event over Phoenix pay system problems
Federal workers rally outside Liberal event over Phoenix pay system problems

Won, who went from a summer student to working full-time with the government, said he was eventually paid but there were over-payment issues.

“I don’t know… if it’s resolved or not. I know they garnished one paycheque like two years ago. I haven’t heard any word from Phoenix,” he said.

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READ MORE: Public servants in Phoenix pay system fiasco offered 1.25 paid days off per year– they said no

Stasi L’Hirondelle, the northern Alberta representative for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, said rallies will be happening across the country throughout February to mark the fourth anniversary of the troubled pay system.

“The big ask today is that they compensate all PSAC members fairly for the debacle of Phoenix,” she said.

Protesters in Edmonton call on Prime Minister Trudeau to fix Phoenix pay system
Protesters in Edmonton call on Prime Minister Trudeau to fix Phoenix pay system

The government has given employees additional vacation days and, more recently, started a claims process for employees to request compensation for severe financial costs and lost investment income. However, L’Hirondelle said that is not enough.

“We’ve had employees that just because they might not have had lots of investments, they still have loss,” she said.

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READ MORE: Agreement which gave bonuses to workers impacted by Phoenix pay system expires

The Treasury Board sent a statement to Global News saying that the federal government understands employees’ frustrations and continues to work to resolve pay issues.

“The ongoing stabilization of the Phoenix Pay System is being pursued relentlessly by Public Services and Procurement Canada. Further, the Treasury Board Secretariat is developing options for a next generation system to eventually replace Phoenix,” the statement reads.

Those at the rally said the issues have persisted for so many years and that they are eager to see some type of resolution.

“When I wasn’t getting paid, I still showed up. In the private industry, who would do that?” Won said.

Three years of Phoenix Pay disaster: Union calls for federal budget allocation for overhauled pay system
Three years of Phoenix Pay disaster: Union calls for federal budget allocation for overhauled pay system