Press Release — Largest federal public sector unions call for ongoing Phoenix damages on 8th anniversary 

OTTAWA, February 27, 2024 — Unions representing more than 260,000 federal public sector workers are calling on the government to negotiate ongoing damages for workers who continue to be impacted by the Phoenix pay system disaster. 

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) and the Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE) have formally requested that Treasury Board begin negotiating an extension of the Phoenix general damages agreements and the severe damages claims process to compensate workers until they are paid properly and on time – every time.

Federal unions negotiated Phoenix general damages settlements in 2019 and 2020, but years later, there’s still no end in sight for federal workers who are still experiencing pay issues paycheque after paycheque.

“As we mark the 8th year of the disastrous Phoenix pay system, tens of thousands of workers continue to endure endless pay problems,” said PSAC National President Chris Aylward. “Workers deserve to be compensated for the pain and suffering they still face at the hands of a broken pay system.”

While all Canadians continue to deal with the rising cost of living, more than 380,000 federal workers can’t be sure they’ll be able to pay their rent, cover their mortgage or pay for groceries due to significant errors on their paycheques.

There are currently 444,000 transactions ready to be processed by the Public Service Pay Centre with a growing Phoenix backlog that is leading to frustration and hardship for workers. “Public servants – like all Canadians – deserve to be paid accurately and on time,” declares PIPSC President Jennifer Carr. “Despite promises to ‘fix Phoenix’, eight years later the federal government can only meet its own service standards 25% of the time, not even close to their own 95% target. That is completely unacceptable,” continues Carr. Whether workers are overpaid, underpaid or not paid at all, Phoenix problems continue to seriously impact federal workers paid by the broken system.  

Each pay period brings more uncertainty, with many putting off advancing their career or retiring from the public service – decisions that should be milestones, but now keep workers up at night. A growing backlog of pay issues and wait times to fix pay issues also weighs on the mental health of workers and has damaging tax implications, with pay problems following them long after they’ve changed jobs, left the public service or retired.

“The Phoenix Pay system marks one of the most expensive and harmful pay system modernization failures in the history of the Canadian federal government,” said Nathan Prier, President of CAPE. “Federal public sector workers deserve better than having their contracts broken on a biweekly basis for eight years. We will not rest until all workers are fully compensated and this issue is resolved once and for all.”

The government must also focus on hiring more compensation advisors to stabilize the current pay system and eliminate the ballooning backlog of pay issues.

Instead, this government continues to waste its resources aggressively clawing back Phoenix overpayments from workers as they race against the clock to recover before the six-year limitation period for overpayment recoveries expires, after which they have no legal right to recover the funds. 

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Media contacts: 

Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC)
PSAC Media Relations 

Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC)
PIPSC Media Relations

Canadian Association of Professional Employees (CAPE)
Katia Thériault
Director of Communications and Public Affairs


About PSAC 

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is Canada’s largest federal public service union, representing nearly 230,000 workers in every province and territory in Canada, including more than 165,000 federal public service workers. 

About PIPSC 

The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada (PIPSC) was founded in 1920. With over 75,000 members, the Institute is the largest union in Canada representing scientists and professionals employed at the federal and some provincial and territorial levels of government.

About CAPE 

With more than 25,000 members, the Canadian Association of Professional Employees is one of the largest federal public sector unions in Canada, dedicated to advocating on behalf of federal employees in the Economics and Social Science Services (EC) and Translation (TR) groups, as well as employees of the Library of Parliament (LoP), the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (OPBO) and civilian members of the RCMP (ESS and TRL).