The Minister responsible for the plagued Phoenix pay program said she is “not married” to the system.
In an exclusive interview with CTV News Thursday, Public Services and Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough said she is not opposed to scrapping the Phoenix pay system once the pay problems have stabilized.
“We’re not married to Phoenix; I’m not married to Phoenix now, I just have to pay people every two weeks,” she said. “Right now we are actively pursuing a second track whereby we are looking at other options, but we can’t get rid of Phoenix because we have to pay people.”
Qualtrough said she expects the backlog to ease by Spring of next year, with a goal of “stabilizing” the pay problems by the end of 2018 or early 2019.
“It’s really frustrating and it’s really embarrassing as a government, because we ask so many people to do so many important things for Canadians, and we can’t even pay them reliably and on time,” Qualtrough told CTV News. “It’s a massive problem, and there’s no excuse, and we just have to fix it.”
Qualtrough’s comments come just weeks after Canada’s Auditor general Michael Ferguson released a damning report on Phoenix, saying it could cost more than $500 million to stabilize the system. The problem, the auditor found, could take years.
Ferguson’s report also revealed about half of Canada’s federal workforce has experienced some kind of pay issue since the problematic system was released in 2016.
Since that report, the minister has said fixing the problem could top $1 Billion dollars.
At last update, there were more than 500,000 outstanding claims of people who have been paid too much, too little or not at all.