Government credits hiring of new pay centre workers for drop in Phoenix backlog
Former Public Services and Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons, in Ottawa on Tuesday, October 31, 2017. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, June 8, 2018 5:05AM EDT
OTTAWA - The federal government says the recent hiring of new staff at its pay centre in Miramichi, N.B., has helped cut the backlog of problem files created under the troubled Phoenix pay system.
Public Services and Procurement Canada says the backlog of transactions involving overpayments or underpayments of civil servants was cut by 25,000 in May, compared with the previous month.
The department said roughly 347,000 transactions beyond its normal workload were still waiting in the queue as of May 30, down from the 372,000 recorded in April.
The number marked the fourth monthly decline in problem pay files since the backlog peaked in January.
Public Services Minister Carla Qualtrough had announced a series of pilot projects in recent months aimed at speeding up pay transactions.
It's not clear whether those projects, including the use of so-called pay pods, contributed to the improving backlog.
But the department says newly hired staff have made a difference.
"Earlier this year, the pay centre hired and trained additional staff to handle straightforward transactions, allowing more experienced compensation advisers to focus on more complex pay requests," the department said on its pay dashboard website.
"This additional capacity is allowing us to make greater progress on the backlog."
More than half of the 290,000 federal workers who are paid through Phoenix have been directly impacted by the computerized system's failings over the past two-plus years, some more seriously than others.
Unions representing those workers recently called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to breathe life into stalled talks aimed at compensating employees for the stress and anguish caused by the pay problems.
Qualtrough's department said it is continuing to hire more pay centre employees with a goal of resolving outstanding pay transactions "as quickly as possible."