Phoenix: Government resumes recovery of new overpayments; now collecting pension arrears

November 13, 2020

The Public Service Pay Center has restarted its work to recover new overpayments caused by the Phoenix pay system. Back in April, due to the pandemic, the Pay Centre announced it would pause the recovery process for new overpayment cases to help alleviate financial hardship caused by the spread of COVID-19. Members who already had a repayment plan in place were unaffected.

In addition to restarting the recovery of new overpayments, the government will also start collecting pension arrears. When the Phoenix pay system first launched in 2016, it delayed pension plan enrolment for numerous employees. The Pay Centre was unable to process pension arrears until spring 2020, however the spread of COVID-19 delayed the recovery process until now.

PSAC has fought for a clear and fair policy that determines when the government can recover any overpayments from public service workers. The government can only recover payments when all three of the following conditions are met:

  1. all monies owed to the member have been paid;
  2. the member has received 3 consecutive correct pay cheques;
  3. a recovery agreement has been established with the member.

All public service workers have the option to pay the outstanding amount in one lump sum if they do not wish to implement a payment plan. Any member experiencing financial hardship can also request an overpayment recovery plan that is less than 10% of their gross bi-weekly pay.

All overpayments will continue to be taxable, therefore members who have an overpayment identified by the Phoenix pay system will be issued a new tax slip for the corresponding year. Please note, PSAC’s victory to ensure that members only have to reimburse the net pay, rather than the gross amount, still stands.

If you are experiencing Phoenix pay issues, please follow our step-by-step guide to access help available to you from both the union and your employer.


Clarification on the Phoenix Damages

UNE has been given clarification from PSAC with respect to the PSAC Communications re: Phoenix-related damages.

1. The ratification process for Treasury Board (TBS) units had two conditions. One, that we arrive at a tentative agreement at PA and two, that the agreement would be ratified by the PSAC which occurred when the NBOD ratified the damages agreement on July 3, 2020.

2. Parallel agreements will need to be concluded for the following units under TBS control. There has been a commitment by TBS to fund these agreements:

Separate Agencies

  • Parks Canada Agency
  • Statistical Survey Operations (SSO) (Regional Offices/Field Survey Interviewers)
  • Office of the Auditor General of Canada (OAG)
  • Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI)
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) (Administrative and Foreign Service/Administrative Support)

3. The following groups will need to be settled/bargained for separately. These groups are outside of TBS control:

Parliamentary Precinct or Crown Corporations

  • Library of Parliament
  • House of Commons
  • Senate
  • Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
  • National Battlefields Commission (NBC)

The details of the memorandum agreement with respect to all aspects of Phoenix damages will be relayed by PSAC Communications.


Deal reached for Phoenix damages, PA group and common issues

July 9, 2020

In a victory for federal public service workers who have gone above and beyond to support Canadians during this pandemic, PSAC has reached a tentative agreement that provides fair wages, no concessions, and improved working conditions for the 70,000 members of the PA group, and Treasury Board common issues.

Alongside these successful talks, PSAC has also secured proper compensation for Phoenix damages to be paid to PSAC members for the pain and suffering caused by the broken pay system.

Phoenix damages

PSAC successfully negotiated a Phoenix damages settlement that is significantly better than the employer’s deal with other federal bargaining agents. Last year, PSAC rejected the government’s meagre offer of 5 days of cashable leave, which was too little and would have rewarded those who earn more while punishing workers who make less. The current agreement provides PSAC members with a fair and equitable lump sum payment of $2,500.

Unlike the tentative deal for Treasury Board bargaining that must be voted on by PSAC members in the near future, the Phoenix damages agreement required ratification by the PSAC National Board of Directors. The Board voted unanimously in favour of the offer on July 3, 2020.

Please read the following update which provides greater detail on the general Phoenix compensation portion of the settlement, as well as the expansion of the claims process for out-of-pocket expenses and for those who suffered major losses because of Phoenix.

PA Group settlement

The PSAC bargaining team successfully secured fair wage increases averaging at 2.11% per year.

PA group members would receive the following wage increases:

2018  2019  2020
2.8%  2.2%  1.35%

In addition to those wage increases, the following group-specific wage adjustments and allowances were also secured: ​

  • Improved retention allowance expanded for all employees working in compensation operations to $3,500 per year
  • A new $3,000 annual allowance for armed Fishery Officers
  • A new Primary Responsibility Allowance of $2,000 per year for parole officers and parole officer supervisors

Other improvements to the PA collective agreement include: ​

  • Increase in maternity related reassignment or leave qualification from 52 to 78 weeks following the birth of a child
  • Several leave improvements including for a person who stands in place of a relative for:
  • Leave without pay for the care of the family
  • Bereavement leave
  • Leave with pay for family-related responsibilities
  • A new leave provision for members elected to union leadership
  • An increase in meal allowance for overtime from $10 to $12
  • New language to clarify that the Employer shall provide an unpaid meal break of a minimum of thirty (30) minutes per full working day, normally at the mid-point of the working day
  • Renewal and update of a memorandum of understanding on a Joint Study on the Work Environment for Employees Working in Call Centres
  • New provision that provides call centre employees with training on crisis intervention and coping
  • Increases to funding for the Joint Learning Program, including a pilot study on health and safety training
  • Language that explicitly provides breaks for nursing employees (to nurse or express breast milk)
  • Memorandum of understanding for a Joint Study on employee support mechanisms for employees who in the course of their duties are exposed to explicit and disturbing material, and/or potentially threatening situations
  • Joint committee to review the use of Indigenous languages in the federal public service, examine Indigenous language skills in the performance of employee duties and consider the advantages that Indigenous language speakers bring to the public service
  • Memorandum of understanding regarding Occupational Group Structure (OGS) review

Common issues settlement

Alongside negotiations for the PA group, PSAC bargaining teams for the TC, EB and SV groups also joined talks to reach a settlement for Treasury Board issues common to all groups. Some of the key improvements include:

  • A one-time payment of $500 in recognition of the extended collective agreement implementation deadline and an additional $50 for every subsequent 90-day delay
  • 10 days of paid domestic violence leave
  • Better language on return to work following a maternity or parental leave, giving more flexibility to parents who wish to change positions within the federal public service.
  • Improvements to parental leave pay

Updated language to match the new legislation including a new extended leave option and the sharing of parental leave
Expanded supplementary allowance for every week an employee is on extended or shared parental leave
Additional weeks for parents covered under the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan, when both parents work in the public service.

  • New memorandum of understanding to explore the issues related to childcare in the public service
  • Updated and improved language to match the new legislation on compassionate care and caregiving leave
  • Better language to allow the use of employer facilities for union activities
  • New memorandum of understanding to protect certain working conditions of civilian members of the RCMP
  • New memorandum of understanding on mental health in the workplace to support the work of the Centre for Expertise on Mental Health
  • In the event of workforce adjustment, the education allowance has increased to $17,000
  • Deletion of Memorandum of Understanding on Supporting Employee Wellness. As a result, sick leave will remain untouched.

Full text and next steps

In the coming days when the final text and full details of the tentative agreement for the PA group and common issues are available, they will be shared with the membership. PA members will shortly thereafter be invited to participate in online ratification votes. Details about the votes will be shared as soon as possible.

The PSAC bargaining team unanimously recommends the ratification of the tentative agreement.

To ensure that you receive all updates and can participate in the ratification process, please ensure that you have either updated your contact information on the PSAC’s member portal, or that you create an account if you have not done so already.

Other PSAC bargaining groups
Bargaining dates for the SV group will be announced in the weeks to come. Negotiations for the EB, TC and Canada Revenue Agency groups will resume next week.



Phoenix replacement announcement: PSAC demands answers

March 6, 2020

PSAC National President Chris Aylward made the following statement:

We’re pleased that the pilot to test a Phoenix replacement is finally moving forward. After 4 years of Phoenix nightmares with no end date in sight, it’s high time the development of a new pay system moves ahead.

It’s very disappointing that the government did not consult with its employees and largest union before making this next important decision.

We would like to know why SAP was chosen above the other two vendors. We have not received any information about the three proposals since the vendors were shortlisted many months ago.

It will also be important to determine exactly how the piloting process will work – including information like which departments will be included and how success will be measured.

PSAC members make up the bulk of the government’s compensation staff and they should have an active role in this process.

It’s not clear to us how the government intends to not repeat the mistakes of the past when entire pilot projects are announced without the knowledge of those who do the work, or their union.

Our goal remains to get our members paid correctly and on time, every time. We will work with the government and vendors to make sure that happens.

Source: PSAC


Statement by the UNE National President on the Government Update on Phoenix Pay System Replacement

Yesterday we learned from Treasury Board President Joyce Murray that the path to the replacement of the Phoenix Pay System is underway.

Three vendors have been selected as part of the procurement process, following consultations with different stakeholders, including unions, primarily PIPSC (Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada). A pilot project phase for the new pay and HR pay system called Next Gen should be put in place by the end of the year allowing public servants to test the three selected pay systems and provide valuable feedback to the government.

Although PIPSC National President Debi Daviau placed the emphasis on her membership’s expertise and their ability to codify and build computer systems, we hope that future joint announcements will involve ALL bargaining agents that have members under federal jurisdiction.

We still don’t know when Next Gen will be fully implemented, the government refusing to give a definitive launch date. It is a shame because it would give hope to thousands of UNE members who have been impacted by the Phoenix fiasco over the past 3 years.

Along with PSAC, we are still demanding a fair compensation for damage done to our members.

We are in the middle of National Public Service Week (NPSW). It is also an election year and many UNE members are in bargaining. Our members deserve to be FULLY paid and ON TIME. No more mistakes, no more excuses, no more delays. We demand a pay and HR system that will work from Coast to Coast to Coast and we demand it now. Let’s Get It Done!

In Solidarity,

Kevin King
UNE National President

2019 Federal Budget

Complementary to the PSAC analysis, UNE went through the 2019 federal budget. Here is a summary of the measures that matter to you as a UNE member.

Phoenix and NextGen 

“To continue progress on stabilizing the current pay system, Budget 2019 provides an additional $21.7 million in 2018–19 to address urgent pay administration pressures (partially sourced from existing departmental funds), and proposes to invest an additional $523.3 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, to ensure that adequate resources are dedicated to addressing payroll errors.”

PSAC and UNE welcome these additional funding measures to address the Phoenix fiasco, but as pointed out by PSAC, “they fall significantly short of what is required to end the pay nightmares of Canada’s federal public service workers.”

We are happy that the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) will be receiving an additional $9.2 million in 2019–2020 for any telephone enquiries.

As for NextGen, there is not much detail in this budget plan other than public sector unions will be consulted during the review process.

Gender Equality

The gender-based analysis plus (GBA+) is work in progress and Budget 2019 allocates $1.5 million to the Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) over five years. TBS will work with other departments in the collection of GBA+ data.
The new Department for Women and Gender Equality will receive $160 million over a five-year period. This important investment will allow strengthen its mandate.

Extra Funding for the LGBTQ2+ Secretariat

$3.6 million is being allocated to the LGBTQ2+ Secretariat over three years. The Secretariat collaborates with stakeholders to inform the “Government’s activities on issues related to sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.”

Support for Racialized Workers

PSAC and UNE “welcome the investment of $45 million over three years to support a new Anti-Racism Strategy along with an Anti-Racism Secretariat. We hope the government will integrate PSAC’s recommendations in making a stronger commitment to employment equity, accessible and transparent staffing processes and reconciliation with the Indigenous community. The $25 million over five years for projects and capital assistance to celebrate, share knowledge, and build capacity in Black Canadian communities is long awaited funding.”

Parks Canada

We can read at page 300 that $19 million will be allocated to fund capital projects in national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites. That does not address major concerns raised in a report commissioned by Parks Canada. The agency has “deferred up to $9.5 billion in badly needed work – and ought to spend up to $3.3 billion on top of that to cope with the threat of climate change.” “When reviewed, 24 per cent of the asset[s] were assessed as being in good condition, 36 per cent in fair condition, and 40 per cent in poor or very poor condition,” says the report. In other words, this budget does not address a systemic situation that Parks Canada has been facing for years.

Lack of Measures Precarious Workers

This budget lacks measures to address the issue of using temporary agencies and casual contracts, and to protect the most vulnerable workers through a federal workers’ compensation plan.

Social Security Tribunal

Following the recommendations of a 2017 independent review of the Social Security Tribunal of Canada and comments expressed by Canadians trough consultations, the government is trying to fix a situation created by the Harper Government. “To make the recourse process for EI, CPP, and OAS easier to navigate and more responsive to the needs of Canadians, Budget 2019 proposes to invest $253.8 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, with $56.7 million per year ongoing.”

Social Development Minister Duclos has recently declared that “the government will bring back the three-person hearings for the first layer of benefit appeals — in a body separate from the tribunal — and retain the tribunal’s single arbitrator for the second, and final, layer.” UNE welcomes this funding.

Federal Public Service Dental Plan Coverage

These improvements for the dental coverage follow an important PSAC victory. After lengthy negotiations and an arbitration process, PSAC won the arbitral decision for the Public Service Dental Care Plan late last year.

Making Workplaces more inclusive

The government has pledged $12 million over three years to support employment for persons with intellectual disabilities and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

As for federal workplaces, “[t]he [g]overnment has committed to hiring at least 5,000 people with disabilities over the next five years.” In order to reach that goal, it will spend $13.7 million over that period of time.

Staffing at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

We welcome investments in staffing at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

Indigenous Communities across Canada

Budget 2019 includes 24 measures for Indigenous peoples, totaling approximately $4.7 billion. Federal measures towards Indigenous Peoples include:

  • $127 million to create the National Council for Reconciliation
  • $1.2 billion over three years for Jordan’s Principle
  • $739 million over five years for water
  • $333.7 million over five years + $115.7 million ongoing to implement the Indigenous Languages Act
  • $327.7 million over five years for post-secondary education
  • Loan forgiveness and reimbursement for comprehensive claims and research for specific claims

As pointed out in the PSAC article, there is “no dedicated funding for Indigenous women’s organizations, to support and carry out the necessary work that will come out of the recommendations of the [National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls]. This is a glaring gap.”

Canada’s North

Budget 2019 focuses on four areas:

  • People: options for post-secondary education are expanded; Northern Isolated Community Initiatives Fund established over five years; measures to improve people’s health and well-being
  • Economic Development: measures in resource development, innovation and business growth
  • Infrastructure: one major announcement is restoring rail service to Churchill, MB; more funding for more infrastructure, cleaner energy and high-speed Internet access
  • Science and Environment: more support provided towards science and research, and conserving the Arctic environment

Budget 2019: Phoenix funding improves, but falls short of ending pay nightmares and compensating workers

PSAC welcomes the new funding commitments made in today’s budget to address the Phoenix pay disaster, but they fall significantly short of what is required to end the pay nightmares of Canada’s federal public service workers.

The over 200,000 workers that have been impacted by Phoenix need long-term funding dedicated to: eliminating the backlog of pay problems; stabilizing Phoenix; compensating workers for their many hardships; and providing enough resources to properly develop, test and launch a new pay system. The amounts budgeted for the next 4 years will not be sufficient to meet those objectives, and over 70% of that funding is earmarked for this fiscal year, leaving little for future needs.

Budget 2019 also does not tie any funding to a timeline for the resolution of Phoenix problems, nor does it commit to a permanent increase in staffing required to stabilize the system for good. It also allocates nothing for the development and launch of a new pay system.

“Our continued mobilization for action on Phoenix has convinced the government to take greater action, but Mr. Trudeau’s wait-and-see approach is not the long-term plan our members need,” said PSAC President Chris Aylward.

“We know we will have to work on stabilizing Phoenix for years to come, and there are hundreds of thousands of cases to still work through. The budget doesn’t even put funding aside for developing and deploying a new pay system or compensating our members. This budget just won’t cut it.”

“Every single day our members show up to work and deliver the critical services Canadians depend on. They deserve for their employer, this government, to pay them correctly, on time – and to compensate them for all the damage done to their lives.”

Source: PSAC

Phoenix: PSAC escalates pressure on government with buildings shutdown

This morning, over 500 PSAC members rallied and blocked entry into two major federal government buildings in Ottawa as they expressed their mounting frustrations with Phoenix and urged the Trudeau government for more action.

“We have told this government that if they do not make more progress in paying our members correctly, and compensate them for the massive impacts of this disaster, that we would escalate our actions. That’s why we’re here today.” said PSAC President Chris Aylward.

“Federal Public Service workers have been showing up to work every day, delivering the services Canadians rely on, despite the mess Phoenix has created in their lives. Our members have been paying for the government’s mistakes for years. It’s time for the government to start paying them back.”

The union is calling on the government to remedy the situation by:

  • Paying damages to all public service workers for the great financial and emotional hardship they have endured
  • Providing the additional staffing and training needed to:
  • assist members at the Client Contact Centre and the Public Service Pay Centre;
  • reduce Phoenix cases by ensuring HR data is entered on time;
  • eliminate the backlog of Phoenix cases, including implementing collective agreements and delivering retroactive pay
  • Delivering a clear and accountable timeline to stabilize Phoenix, eliminate the backlog, and transition to a new pay system

Damning figures from the recent Public Service Employee Survey provided overwhelming support for the union’s demands.

“To add insult to injury, while our members continue to wait to be paid correct, this government has also delayed delivering a fair deal for over 100,000 PSAC members at the bargaining table. We won’t allow this government to keep taking our members for granted.”

Source: PSAC

Phoenix: Government To Correct Membership Dues Errors This Week

The Phoenix pay system will apply membership dues adjustments this fall. Letters to members with details about their specific dues’ situation are being sent out this month. On November 14, 2018 PSAC members will see the correct membership dues amount on their paycheques, and then they will find themselves in one of two categories:

You have overpaid membership dues and are owed a refund. PSAC will refund the total amount owed to you. You will receive the refund over 1 to 2 paycheques. Beginning in January 2019, your membership dues should be updated to the corrected rate.

You have been underpaying membership dues and are in arrears. PSAC will only recover up to 1 years’ worth of union dues and will not collect this in one large lump sum. The rate of recovery is always equal to the monthly amount of union dues a member would normally pay. These recovery payments will take place over several pay periods. For most of our members who owe less than $300, this shouldn’t take more than 2 to 3 months.

If you have concerns regarding arrears owed, please fill in this form to request additional information.

In solidarity,

The UNE National Office