Presented to the 99th Annual General Meeting

There’s nothing like a crisis to test the mettle of an organization. Phoenix has tested us. I’m proud of what our team of members and staff has been able to do to mitigate this crisis and turn it into an opportunity to push our union’s agenda on reducing contracting out in the federal government.

We could not have planned for Phoenix and the havoc it wreaked. But we responded immediately. We had to be nimble in implementing operational changes to support members impacted by the pay problems and to support our President’s government relations efforts. And we had to do this work while dealing with Phoenix’s impact on the Institute’s own finances.

We launched a loans program for members facing financial hardship due to Phoenix and offered similar assistance to summer students affected by the pay system. We bolstered our staff capacity to deal with pay issues. We provided the necessary staff support to our President as she pursued the resolution of more urgent cases through political channels. We created documentation and templates to facilitate the work of our stewards. We launched policy grievances as well as hundreds of individual grievances.

Reacting to the impact of the pay problems on members wasn’t enough. We needed a lasting solution on pay issues, and we had to ensure that lessons about government’s over-reliance on outsourcing would be learned.

Not only did we stay in the news, we shaped the coverage of Phoenix. We released Programmed to Fail, a report on outsourcing that led to greater scrutiny of the Phoenix contract. Our President called on the government to nix Phoenix and build a new pay system relying on the government’s own IT professionals.

We launched an online action in support of the President’s call for a new pay system. Members were given an easy online tool to email the Working Group of Ministers and urge them to build a new pay system that works, using the in-house expertise of our own computer systems professionals.

Nearly 10,000 of them took the action, making this the highest member engagement rate in any of our campaigns. In just one year we were able to convince the government to follow our advice.

We have much work ahead of us before seeing a new pay system that actually works. But we also have much to celebrate for the progress we’ve made to date, despite the crisis that was thrust on us. Every part of our union was impacted by Phoenix and we needed an all-hands-on-deck approach - and that approach is beginning to pay off.

None of this work would have been possible without our member’s engagement and the investment that they made in their union through their dues.

Since 2016, we’ve restored our reserves and invested in the parts of the organization that needed an upgrade. The result of those investments have been the development of new tools and skills that have strengthened the union and its membership. That’s why in the coming years, we’re going to make further investments in both our labour representation side of our organization, as well as the mobilization, communication and IT teams that are crucial to our success as a union.

As we look to the future and consider other threats and opportunities, I’m confident that the experience with Phoenix has made us stronger as an organization and better prepared for facing adversity.