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Phoenix fiasco: Ottawa launches claims process for affected employees

Phoenix fiasco: Ottawa launches claims process for affected employees

Ottawa on Tuesday began a complaints process for public servants affiliated with the Canadian Public Service Alliance (PSAC) who have suffered “serious” financial fallout from the failure of the Phoenix payment system.

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“It’s finally good news,” said Yvonne Barrier, PSAC-Quebec’s regional executive vice president, the result of a battle between the union’s tooth and nail and the Treasury Board.

The agreement signed with PSAC on October 23, 2020 applies to approximately 175,000 current employees and 45,000 former employees who were in business between 2016 and 2020.

Public officials who have experienced “serious repercussions” due to a failure in the wage system, including “financial costs and loss of investment income” or “serious personal or financial distress,” may apply for the $1,500 minimum.

Flaws in the Phoenix pay system often led to financial problems for many public servants, some even leading to divorce or job burnout. In order to be able to cover current expenses, some employees had to cash out RRSPs or personal investments, explains Mr. Barrière.

“It was stressful every two weeks, people in the public service would go see if they were paid, check if the amount was appropriate, and on Thursday, they would check if it was deposited or if it was the correct amount,” the unionist said.

Since each claim file will be processed according to the severity of the situation, no maximum financial compensation has been set.

Employees who suffered “general damages,” such as those “related to stress, frustration, pain and suffering,” actually received a total of $2,500 last year, after the first agreement was signed that included not only PSAC, but nearly 20 other unions.

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The beginning of Dangerous Suits is a triumph, but it’s not the final chapter in the Phoenix story. According to Mr. Barrière, it will still be to prevent the Treasury Board from taxing amounts already granted and amounts to come.

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