MP Kmiec calls on Minister Foote to take responsibility for Phoenix Pay backlog
To date, my office has seen 4 separate cases of Phoenix Pay problems where constituents were either underpaid or overpaid. As of January 2017, 8000 cases remain in the Phoenix backlog as response times continue to lag.
The Liberal government missed its own deadline to clear that backlog by last October and the cost to fix the payroll system has gone up to $50 million. The Liberal government now says it will spend whatever it takes to get it fixed. This ongoing problem is a nightmare.
Take Geraldine for example, who wrote to me last December about her overpayment problem. Since leaving her federal service job in November, every 2 weeks, she has been receiving automated manual cheques.
Geraldine has made several telephone calls, written letters and sent e-mails to her Pay Centre asking for the pay cheques to stop, with no success. She also had a difficult time finding out if her complaints were being addressed.
Geraldine did not ask for these problems. She is trying to return the government's money and through no fault of her own she faces potential penalties from the CRA. No taxpayer deserves to be treated in this way.
The problem lies squarely with Minister Judy Foote’s handling of this file. She ignored an independent assessment by Gartner Consulting, which the Liberal government contracted for almost a quarter million taxpayer dollars, which included a warning to slow down the Phoenix roll out plan and expressed concerns about accuracy and timeliness of pay. A responsible minister would have used all information available in their decision making.
This was entirely avoidable and the Minister bears the entirety of the blame. It is time for her to take responsibility for the Phoenix backlog and stop passing the buck to public servants in her department. She is the Minister and the buck stops with her.
This issue has snowballed. First the pay system failed over 80,000 employees, now payments made in error will drastically impact tax filings of tens of thousands of Canadians this April. This will cause problems for years to come for other government departments and employees affected by Phoenix need solutions not more delays.
I am calling on Minister Foote to communicate to the Minister of National Revenue and assure all those impacted by the Phoenix pay issue that an opportunity to self-identify on their tax filings as affected by Phoenix will be available, to avoid unwarranted tax assessments, including interest and penalties caused by the government’s errors.
Constituents of Calgary Shepard like Geraldine deserve no less.
In your service,
Tom Kmiec, MP
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