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Prevented from retiring by the Phoenix fiasco

Photo: Boris Proulx Le Devoir Met at her home in Laval, Michèle-Ann Rainville presents to “Devoir” her medal “for distinguished services in the correctional environment”, awarded in 2018 by the Governor General of Canada.

The Phénix payroll system is targeting a Laval civil servant, from whom the government is demanding more than $12,000 at the dawn of her retirement, even if it does not arrive to pay her for several months of work done years ago. “It affected my pension, my sick leave… Everything was affected,” laments Michèle-Ann Rainville, who has been a parole officer for almost 30 years.

She is one of tens of thousands of federal civil servants who still have not resolved their old compensation problems caused by the Phoenix pay system. In her case, the faulty software wiped out nearly $30,000 of her salary between 2016 and 2018, a tidy sum she resigned herself to never getting.

Proof that a payroll problem caused by Phoenix never comes alone, Ms. Rainville received a new tile in January 2024. Her employer is now asking her for no less than $12,540.44 just when she wants to retire. The system claims to have paid her this excess money, although she claims to have never seen this amount in her bank account.

“Another mix-up, confusion Phoenix! » she notes. Among many other problems on his record, years of operational experience have gone missing, compromising his pension amount.

Too late for one's money

Met at her home in Laval, Michèle-Ann Rainville presents at Devoirhis medal “for distinguished service in corrections”, awarded in 2018 by the Governor General of Canada.

Unfortunately, a depression caused in part by her financial troubles prevented her from collecting her prize in person in Ottawa. “I would tell you that, for reasons of survival, I packed up my Phoenix file, then I focused on work,” she explains, talking about her return to work in 2021.

However, the federal government considers that it is now too late to recover the amounts she is claiming, despite the multiple attempts she has made over the years, since the limitation period is exceeded.

Le Devoirwas able to consult 11 payment slips showing that she did not receive a penny of her pay for around twenty weeks between July 2016 and November 2018. Ms. Rainville also documented her efforts to find her lost pay, her health problems and even a $20,000 loan from his mother to pay his bills during this difficult time.

“I have green plant responses [from his employer]. I am being sent emails without any valid information. I have been sent from Caiaphas to Pilate since that time,” describes Ms. Rainville, who also says she has the support of her hierarchical superiors in her efforts.

Thousands like her

The main union of federal civil servants estimates that 19,000 employees who have retired (or who have permanently left the public service) still have an old unresolved pay problem to this day, courtesy of the Phoenix system.

“Not only is the system not fixed, but the situation is worse today than it was in 2016, when we launched it,” says Bruce Roy, National President of the Government Services Union of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). The Phénix pay problem specialist within this union estimates that some 140,000 civil servants are currently awaiting a settlement in their pay files in 2024. “The problems have grown so much, it's piling up, and it has a snowball effect,” he explains.

Without commenting on the specific situation of Ms. Rainville, Bruce Roy confirms that the government is claiming from its civil servants sums that have been owed to it for years, while considering that its own debts to its employees become prescribed after eight years. “What we see is: “I owe you $1,000 since 2020… But you owe me $20,000 since 2017!” » he explains.

The problems have grown so much, they're piling up, and it's having a snowball effect

—Bruce Roy

The Phoenix payroll system was ordered from a government subcontractor, the multinational IBM, by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper. However, the system was launched by the current Liberal government in 2016, and it has since caused a spectacular cascade of intractable problems for the remuneration of its employees.

In an email to Devoir, Correctional Service Canada says it is unable to comment on the specific case of Ms. Rainville, but assures that “the health and well-being of [its] employees are a top priority.”

The federal government is currently going through a major controversy over its failing management of another computer file, the border control application ArriveCAN, developed by subcontractors at a cost of at least 59 .5 million dollars.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116