Attack of the Phoenix

The Phoenix Issue

There has been a lot of talk in the news recently surrounding the 'Phoenix pay system issue,' but what exactly happened? Well, basically the federal government realized that their payroll systems are slightly archaic and so they decided it was time for an upgrade. Sounds simple enough at first but then the government decided to up the ante. Instead of just upgrading each department's payroll systems one at a time, the government thought it would be a better idea to amalgamate the payrolls from 101 departments, that encompass over 300,000 employees, into one unified system. Slightly more challenging, especially when considering it's the gov that's leading the charge.

How did it Go?

Not good. It has now been 6 months since Public Services and Procurement Canada began the roll out of their much anticipated Phoenix pay system and still thousands of public service employees are dealing with numerous issues. In fact, the government recently said that over 80,000 employees were affected by glitches in the system and that many still were having problems. Of the many problems reported, some include getting paid too much (could be worse), not getting paid enough (worse), or not getting paid at all (much worse). 

Public Works Minister Judy Foote called the situation 'unacceptable' and said she was 'disgusted' by what had transpired. Unfortunately, the minister could not provide a firm date for when employees could expect proper paycheques to arrive, nor could she speak to the future of the Phoenix system. Union representatives for some of the affected employees have called on the government to revert back to the old system until a solution has been found. There has been no sign that the government is entertaining the idea and instead has hired dozens of temporary employees to assist in getting the system fully online. 

In Other News...

BC Calls a Time-out on CPP Expansion

Last month I discussed the proposed changes to the Canadian Pension Plan that were agreed upon by eight of the ten provinces (Click Here to read more). British Columbia was one of the provinces that agreed to the federal government's plan to expand the CPP and indicated they would be signing on. However, when it actually came down to ratifying the new agreements last week, the province called a time-out and said they needed more time to consult the people of BC. 

Why did This Happen?

Officially, it's because the province wants to consult small business owners and members of the public on any such changes before making a decision. The province insists it doesn't want to do anything that isn't in the best interest of all BC residents and thus must consult them first. Unofficially however, it's because there is an election less than a year away and the province wants to appear as though they are standing up to the federal government for what's best for BC. What will likely be seen in the next few weeks is a seemingly optimistic press conferences by the province which explains how they listened to the public and have decided to go ahead with the federal government's plan. It's unlikely that the province is actually having second thoughts on the agreement and will almost certainly ratify the amendments once it has received some good PR.

Brazeau is Back in the Senate 

After being suspended without pay for over 2 years, Senator Patrick Brazeau is back at work on Parliament Hill. Brazeau had been suspended in 2013 after an audit related to the Senate Expense Scandal showed he had some questionable spending that needed to be looked into. Following an RCMP investigation, Brazeau was charged with several offenses related to his expenses and was left suspended until he could go on trial. More recently however, charges against Brazeau were dropped following the acquittal of Mike Duffy (another Senator who was also charged). With no expense related charges remaining against him, Brazeau has been allowed back into the Senate and has said he is looking to receive compensation for lost wages. Despite being back, Brazeau may still face some legal difficulties after pleading guilty last year for simple assault and cocaine possession and pleading not guilty to refusing to take a breath test earlier this month.  

Braden McMillian