One year after Phoenix fiasco, public workers still struggle to make ends meet
Published Tuesday, October 31, 2017 10:00PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, November 2, 2017 11:49AM EDT
A B.C. family is struggling to pay for groceries and make rent payments one year after the federal government’s faulty Phoenix pay system left them without a reliable source of income.
Rubi Marin Morales was laid off in August 2016 from her public service job. She says that, due to a payroll error, she was prevented from collecting employment insurance.
To make ends meet, she and her husband, Alex Morgan, turned to a high-interest loan. But the hefty repayments have piled up and become more than the single-income family can handle.
“All I think about is these bills that keep piling up, and none of this would have happened had Phoenix not been implemented,” Marin Morales told CTV News.
Rubi Marin Morales was re-hired by the government department that laid her off in early 2017. She remains employed, but continues to experience pay roll issues related to the Phoenix system. Marin Morales and her husband Alex Morgan continue to pay off the loan they took out in 2016. The government says it will not reimburse them for the interest payments.
Thousands of government workers like Martin Morales are still reporting problems with their salaries, benefits and pensions. The pay system, which was expected to save the government $78 million, has so far absorbed $400 million in efforts to fix it.
Officials haven’t confirmed precisely how many people were affected by the pay fiasco, but unions estimate that more than half of the public workforce has experienced problems.
The Senate plans to halt use of the beleaguered system and is researching potential replacements.
In a statement to CTV News, Minister of Public Services and Procurement Carla Qualtrough said: “The ongoing public service pay problems are completely unacceptable … We are committed to working collaboratively at all levels to resolve them as quickly as possible.”
Morgan said it’s been a tough time for the family, and the anxiety has affected their kids.
“Our whole life revolves around this and it has for the last year and a half,” he said.
It’s an experience Christiane Villeneuve can relate to. Anxiety and depression forced her to go on long-term disability from her government job three months ago.
But due to a Phoenix backlog, she has yet to receive any money from her insurance program.
Villeneuve has used up all her savings and, with little answers in sight, is now hoping to push back her mortgage payments.
All the while, her stress levels have peaked.
“I feel like my condition is getting worse instead of getting better,” she said.
With a report from CTV’s Kevin Gallagher in Ottawa