Response from Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency

From Public Services and Procurement Canada

Mr. Michael Wernick
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
Privy Council Office
80 Wellington Street, suite 332
Ottawa ON K1A 0A3

Dear Mr. Wernick:

In response to your letter to deputy heads of November 2, 2017, I appreciate the opportunity to outline the actions the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (the Agency) has undertaken and will continue to take to contribute to the stabilization of pay administration.

Providing our employees with timely and accurate pay services is critical to me and the senior leadership team at the Agency. A number of measures have been implemented to best support staff and management in the prevention, identification, tracking, escalation and resolution of employee pay issues. Specifically, these are the things we have done and will continue doing moving forward.

  • Increased leadership oversight with the Agency's VP of Corporate Services and the Head of HR meeting with Public Service Procurement Canada (PSPC) Pay Services and Portfolio colleagues regularly to monitor and report on pay system challenges and issues;
  • Reassigned Agency HR resources (one AS-04; one AS-02; and one student) to establish a centralized liaison function within the Agency to ensure that dedicated support is available to employees and management to troubleshoot, report, track, escalate and resolve pay issues;
  • Integrated staffing with pay liaison support functions to ensure a more complete HR to-Pay perspective;
  • Performed a review of outstanding transactions and issues to provide a better understanding of the type of transactions that pose a higher risk and the cause of the issues;
  • Implemented measures to prevent and early detect issues, particularly for higher risk transactions, for example:
    • Staffing Assistants were provided Phoenix view access to validate that staffing data input flows accurately from My GCHR to Phoenix;
    • Pay Liaison Officers review pay stubs for employees on progressive return to-work from disability leave to ensure they are paid accurately and on time when submitting their hours into Phoenix; and
    • Active monitoring of student pay to ensure they are paid at the appropriate rate (Phoenix defaults to the entry-level rate) and that there are no outstanding issues.
  • Numerous communications with staff and management, including:
    • Messages to staff to raise awareness, share tips and encourage them to report issues;
    • Targeted messages to the Administrative Support Network and Senior Management Committee to reinforce a proactive approach to staffing, monitoring leave, departures and reporting issues; and
    • Weekly Outlook pop-up messages were introduced to prompt delegated managers to regularly review their Phoenix Worklist, review My GCHR leave requests and proactively submit staffing appointment data.
  • Human resources staff and managers have completed available training and upcoming training will be rolled-out across the Agency;
  • Weekly reporting to human resources management on open vs closed cases to monitor progress and trends as well as bi-weekly reporting to senior management;
  • Established additional back-up capacity with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and PSPC, Shared Human Resources Services to ensure the ability to report time in Phoenix during absences; and
  • Implemented a temporary memorandum of understanding with Shared Human Resources Services at PSPC for dedicated Compensation Advisors to clear the Agency's outstanding pay transactions and to assist in resolving the outstanding backlog at the Pay Centre.

To put the measures outlined above in context, prior to the consolidation of pay services and the implementation of Phoenix, the Agency obtained its pay and benefits services for approximately 300 individuals through a memorandum of understanding with ECCC. Within the Agency, less than one-half of 1 FTE was assigned coordination and liaison responsibilities with ECCC.

Agency liaison efforts were limited and only occasional ad-hoc issues required escalation to the ECCC compensation team leader for urgent resolution. In the new operating environment, the Agency has invested significantly more resources and coordination in the liaison, tracking and reporting of pay issues to assist in the resolution of employee pay issues.

The focus within the Agency has been in the prevention of situations that may result in a pay issue for an employee. This has been a challenging area for the Agency due to processing delays within the Pay Centre contributing to delays in the timely transfer of employees amongst departments/agencies. The delay in transferring employees contributes to other challenges in effectively administering leave, overtime, acting appointments and promotions for employees that have not been transferred from their previous department to the department where they are currently working.

In closing, I acknowledge the challenge and the magnitude of the change. Canada's public service is vibrant and high-performing and our employee pay and benefits must keep pace with rapid change to meet the expectations of our employees and Canadians. Pay administration must not be an impediment to recruit talented employees to achieve our mandate and the expectations of all Canadians to achieve program outcomes.

You can count on my continued support to address this situation as rapidly as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Ron Hallman
President

c.c.: The Honourable Catherine McKenna, P.C, M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada
Les Linklater, Associate Deputy Minister, Public Services and Procurement Canada
Yaprak Baltacioglu, Secretary of the Treasury Board
Catrina Tapley, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations), Privy Council Office

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