OTTAWA -- The federal government is ready to look for a new federal pay system but is expecting to still pay into Phoenix for years to come.

Announced in the 2018 budget, the government is earmarking $16 million over the next two years to work with experts, federal public service unions and technology providers on procuring a new pay system.

This decision comes as the overall price tag for the problem-plagued pay system nears $1 billion.

To date the government has spent more than $460 million to implement and triage public service pay issues. Budget 2018 includes an additional $431.4 million over six years to continue fixing Phoenix, including hiring more staff.

As well, another $5.5 million over two years is going to the Canada Revenue Agency to help all the employees who have income tax issues as a result of Phoenix.

Adding together what has been spent and what is spelled out in the 2018 budget, Phoenix is set to cost the federal government at least $912.9 million.

The budget says the government is looking for “the next generation of the federal government’s pay system that is better aligned with the complexity of the federal government pay structure.”

Last year on CTV’s Question Period, Public Services and Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough first signaled that the price to triage the pay system could reach $1 billion.

Thousands of employees across Canada have had issues with their pay as a result of Phoenix, and the system is still considerably backlogged as the pay centre employees work to process hundreds of thousands of transactions.

“Serious issues and challenges with the Phoenix pay system continue, and too many federal public servants are not being properly paid,” the budget acknowledges.

The government has begun discussions with public service unions to address the numerous grievances and legal actions that have stemmed from the troubled rollout and operation of Phoenix.