Last week I had the opportunity to meet with Deputy Minister Simon Kennedy to speak with him about the Phoenix pay problems our members at Health Canada are facing.
Over the last number of months we have established a very good working relationship with Mr. Kennedy and his human resources team at the department. Despite this and the best efforts of everyone involved, solving pay problems with the Phoenix pay system has proven incredibly difficult and is taking far too long.
We were pleased to know that both the Deputy Minister and the Institute agree that better access to priority or emergency pay is required. As we are well aware, not all Phoenix hardships result from receiving no pay; many, in fact, are due to going without significant parts of one’s salary for months on end. These add up to no small sum and can comprise much of an individual’s salary. We are hopeful that an expanded priority pay system can be set up and cheques issued by departments to address these types of hardship cases. It only makes sense.
We also discussed the need for departments to have better access to Phoenix and to have the ability to implement some steps directly rather than wait for the bulk of the work to be done by an over-burdened centralized pay centre. We hope this measure, once implemented, will work to curb the number of problems going forward.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank PIPSC volunteers such as Ginette Tardiff, President of the Heath Canada National Consultation Team, who have worked tirelessly to assist members in having their issues heard or simply served as someone members can speak with. They have been so generous with their time, and I deeply appreciate the work they are doing on behalf of others. I will continue to work with your representatives to ensure the government is taking every measure possible to get our members paid correctly and on time and that we have the lasting solutions to put this unacceptable debacle behind us.
As always, I encourage you to notify us of any pay problems you have by contacting your regional office and being in touch with one of our Employment Relations Officers.
Wishing you all a happy holidays, I would like to thank you for your continued work and, of course, perseverance.