Phoenix Stories

Earlier this year, we invited members to share their stories about how they’ve been impacted by the Phoenix pay system.

To say that PIPSC members are upset is to gravely understate the damage done by the system – and the all-too-common complaints against it.

Whether it’s single parents struggling to pay the mortgage and feed the kids without a regular pay cheque or recent retirees coping with their own or another family member’s health problems while patiently trying to correct pay errors and begin drawing a proper pension, it’s clear Phoenix has inflicted harm on many more lives than those listed on the government payroll.

That’s just one reason we’ve advocated for a better pay system since Phoenix was first rolled out.

It has forced many to seek financial help from family to pay the bills, contributed to the breakup of relationships, and caused some who are already contending with illness or disability to bear the added burden of crushing financial stress and anxiety.

As one member returned from sick leave ruefully remarked, “I can honestly say fighting cancer was easier than fighting Phoenix.”

Others have had their futures put on hold. “I became an employee a couple years ago and so did my spouse,” recounts one. “We postponed having children until Phoenix is fixed because we are scared it could ruin our ability to pay rent and provide for a child. Since we don’t know when a solution will be implemented, we don’t know when we’ll start a family….”

The financial hardships have left other, longer-serving employees in doubt too. “Phoenix has taken away part of my parental leave,” writes another, “has caused undue stress and hardship for my family and has left a once financially secure family relying on [extended] family to help them out. With no end in sight and a husband who continues to ask, “How can an employer continue to treat you this way?” I’m left considering cutting my losses (after almost 20 years of service) and finding a job that can, at minimum, pay me.”

Unsurprisingly, frustration and cynicism are often-expressed emotions. “I spent 41 years in total working for the Government of Canada, for all the good it did me,” writes a recent retiree living on a line of credit while she continues to wait for her first pension cheque.

The constant anxiety has in its turn contributed to mental health concerns. “My mental health has been affected and compromised,” writes a mental health nurse who has suffered from underpayment, over payment, inaccurate sick leave accrual and retirement savings errors due to Phoenix. “The sleepless nights, the worries over whether I’ll get paid, the amount CRA thinks I owe, it’s all taking a serious toll on my mental well-being,” writes another member.

A third writes: “Debtors calling my home and work. Had my power shut off and had to turn to family to help me out. Creditors do not care that we are not getting the correct pay, they want their money.”

All this makes PIPSC’s demands that the government pay damages to our members more valid than ever. And we continue to press the government on this issue. But it also makes finding a new pay system – one that works, one built for and by federal employees – that much more urgent.

If you haven’t already done so, I urge you to email the ministerial working group today to demand they work with PIPSC members on finding an alternative pay system. And if you have a Phoenix story you want to share please do so here.