Phoenix plagued public servants say pay system stole Christmas
A group of federal public servants plagued by the Phoenix pay system took their twisted Christmas carols to the steps of Parliament Hill Sunday.
More than two dozen federal public servants, many in Santa and Elf hats, sang re-created versions of popular Christmas tunes like Jingle Bells and White Christmas. The goal of the gathering was to raise awareness about the pay problems that have been affecting employees for more than two years.
"It's getting to the point where we have just about had enough," said Chrystal Warner, one of the organizers.
Warner, like many public servants, is dealing with major overpayment issues. Just last week she received a check for $26,000 despite the fact that she quit her job months ago.
"That was unexpected," she said. "It was a complete error and I've called several times and been given several different stories about why I've gotten the income. I hope that they take it back before the end of the year."
Sky Belt hasn't received a penny of the money she has earned in overtime or in acting pay this year, despite repeated attempts to solve the pay issues. Now Belt said she is struggling to put on a good Christmas for her son.
"Those are the funds that allow me to give him the best childhood I can. I work hard to make sure he has those special memories," said Sky Belt. "I feel like I'm failing as a parent because I can't provide those things to him.
But it's not just the holiday season that is worrying public servants; it's the end of the fiscal year. Money that was a result of an overpayment will, in many cases, knock them into a higher tax bracket. Similarly, those who did not receive enough money could be stuck with a lump sum payment next fiscal year. The accounting of it all is a constant stressor.
"While you are trying to think about Christmas and be in the moment, you are still thinking about pay and taxes," said Fabienne Jean-Francois. "That's why it is important to continue putting pressure on the government to remind them this is unacceptable."
The federal government has said it could cost up to $1Billion to fix the system. At last update, there were 510,000 outstanding claims.