Phoenix system overpaid bureaucrats by $500M — now it’s time to claw that back: watchdog

The Canada Revenue Agency headquarters in Ottawa is shown on November 4, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Up to a quarter of federal government employees are still experiencing problems with their pay because of the troubled Phoenix pay system, and the government might be running out of time to collect on overpayments.

A new report from Canada’s auditor general says 28 per cent of civil servants in its sampling had errors in their pay, which is down from an estimated 47 per cent last year.

Meanwhile, more than $500 million in overpayments were made to more than 100,000 employees, some dating back more than three years.

If the government doesn’t collect those overpayments soon, the auditor said, it may run out of time to use some recovery mechanisms because of legal limitations.

According to public accounts documents released Thursday, the federal government paid $125 million in Phoenix-related damages to 143,521 people during the 2021-22 fiscal year.

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In the previous fiscal year, the federal government paid $400 million in damages to 324,346 individuals.

The Phoenix system was launched in 2016 and was meant to consolidate dozens of antiquated pay systems and save the government millions each year.

Instead, it resulted in massive upheaval and has cost the government more than $2.1 billion.

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