Archived: Response from Canadian Food Inspection Agency

From Public Services and Procurement Canada

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PRC 019834

Mr. Michael Wernick
80 Wellington Street
Room 332
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0A3

Dear Mr. Wernick:

Thank you for your letter of November 2, 2017 requesting information on the actions the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is taking to help stabilize the pay system and ensure our employees are paid accurately and on time.

In reading the six HR-to-Pay actions included in your letter, I am encouraged to report that these have already integrated into the CFIA’s internal Phoenix response. While work has not really stopped since the implementation of Phoenix in February 2016, in the fall of 2016 I approved the establishment and resourcing of a robust CFIA Response team to focus on six main areas of concern: transaction resolution, internal engagement and external outreach, training, planning, issues management and communications.

The CFIA team is comprised of terms, retirees, and internal staff with previous compensation experience. Through a Memorandum of Understanding with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the team received system training and access. By June 2017 this team had grown to 30 compensation advisors and CFIA has negotiated remote access to the pay system so that these advisors could work from their home location. From September 2016 to October 2017 the CFIA Phoenix Transaction Team worked closely with managers, employees, departmental HR staff and Pay Centre staff to reduce the outstanding CFIA cases from close to 18,000 to approximately 13,600.

Although I continue to receive positive feedback from employees, management and our bargaining agents – it is acknowledged that CFIA is addressing issues as best we can - almost 80% of our workforce continues to be impacted in some way by pay related issues.

CFIA’s Phoenix team is divided into four sub-teams with the required expertise and training to deal with specific types of cases (actings, benefits enrollments, CFIA specific entitlements etc.). Even though some cases are high-volume with low complexity, 18 months after the implementation of Phoenix, the majority of cases are now considered complex and require significant time to resolve.

CFIA has also put in place a rigorous process to manage situations of employee hardship. Employees can request an Emergency Salary Advance (ESA), and the Corporate Management and Human Resources branches work closely together to process ESAs within two business days of requests after pay day. Additionally, a dedicated team reviews and processes Phoenix-related out-of-pocket claims, and conducts overpayment/underpayment analysis periodically.

Supporting HR-to-Pay at CFIA are 51 FTEs from Human Resources Branch plus 2.5 FTEs from Corporate Management Branch. The internal resources dedicated to our Phoenix response are working in the areas of compensation, HR, finance, communications, analytics and training.

We learned early on that an absence of communication exacerbated an already difficult situation, and caused employees considerable disquiet. Therefore, this subject is a standing item on our senior management committee’s weekly meetings. Internal dashboards and reporting were developed which are now used in conjunction with Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS) dashboards to provide the weekly updates to my senior management team. Internal communications are managed by a dedicated Communications Advisor for Phoenix, and messages are shared proactively to all staff via email, internal website, webinars and other mechanisms as appropriate.

While this is our current state, we recognize upcoming initiatives, including the implementation of new collective agreements at CFIA, will potentially increase the number of unresolved pay related cases. The CFIA recently responded to a Treasury Board Secretariat request regarding, “Potential Funding to Departments and Agencies”; if funding is granted CFIA would be better enabled to support employees and managers as we prepare for the Collective Agreement Implementations, Job Stack Mapping initiative, and the 2017 tax season. I have committed to employees and our bargaining agents that the CFIA will continue to work towards a stabilized pay system that ensure employees are indeed paid accurately and on time, including continuing to allocate resources to a dedicated CFIA Phoenix Response Team.

At CFIA we believe our employees are our most valuable resource, and as a result we remain committed to doing all we can to ensure employees receive accurate and timely pay and that every effort is made to minimize hardships. We would welcome any information on new or emerging best practices that we might adopt to help us improve our performance. Please see Annex A for further details on Reporting Indicators.


Paul Glover
Canadian Food Inspection Agency

c.c: The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Health
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
Les Linklater, Associate Deputy Minister, Public Service and Procurement Canada
Yaprak Baltacioglu, Secretary of the Treasury Board of Canada
Catrina Tapley, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations), Privy Council Office

Annex A: Strengthening HR-to-Pay Contribution—Reporting Indicators

Indicator CFIA’s Activities / Response
Establish a HR-to-Pay Team within your department for government-wide efforts
  • 51 FTEs from Human Resources support the HR-to-Pay Stabilization. 
  • In addition there are 2.5 Finance FTEs dedicated to address Phoenix – related issues.
Report on your progress on HR-to-Pay stabilization priorities
  • Approx.53.5 FTEs working full-time hours dedicated to address Phoenix-related issues
  • Reduced cases from 18,000 to 13,600 from May to October 2017
Managers and employees are informed of HR-to-Pay developments
  • Assigned a dedicated Communications Advisor for Phoenix updates.
  • Internal website updated weekly with information regarding Phoenix.
  • Weekly National InfoBulletins provided with specific information to help staff.
  • Branch contacts identified working with Human Resources to identify Hardship cases.
Managers and employees understand their role and responsibilities in HR-to-Pay
  • Established a robust Emergency Salary Advance process.
  • Phoenix a standing item on senior management committee meetings
  • New training in development to be shared with managers and employees.
  • Establishing an Ambassadors Program to provide additional training to employees.
Managers incorporate robust HR-to-Pay practices into their routine
  • Phoenix training for managers made mandatory and included in executives PMAs
  • Regular communications are sent out to managers regarding approving Phoenix transactions.
  • Continuously adding to the CFIA Phoenix website with tips and best practices for managers.
Employees’ contact information is up to date in their HR system
  • Regular communications are sent to staff reminding them to keep their contact information updated. 
  • Human Resources have procedures to give employees when receiving enquiries. 
  • PeopleSoft page updated with Self-Service instructions.

Sylvia Holz, Manager
Human Resources Branch
Vice-President’s Office
RDIMS #(s): 10054514
November 6, 2017

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