Response from Canada Border Services Agency

From Public Services and Procurement Canada

Mr. Michael Wernick
Clerk of the Privy Council
Privy Council Office
Room 1000
85 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0A3

Dear Mr. Wernick:

Thank you for your correspondence of November 2, 2017, concerning actions undertaken by departments to date and actions we plan to take to help stabilize the pay system and ensure that employees are paid accurately and on time.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is categorized as a web service organization, as it does not use the My GCHR PeopleSoft information system, nor is it a client of the Public Service Pay Centre. The CBSA uses the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Corporate Administrative System (CAS) as its human resources (HR) system to interface with Phoenix and has kept its own compensation services delivered via 10 regional compensation teams across the country.

Due to the high level of integration between the Agency’s corporate enterprise resource planning system (CAS) and the government’s payroll system, the transition to Phoenix from the regional pay system in April 2016 has had a significant impact on the CBSA’s compensation employees, processes, and system.

The CBSA has taken measures to address Phoenix-related issues, such as rebuilding its entire HR business and system processes in collaboration with the CRA to maintain our HR system in working order. Additional efforts were also required to develop, test, and implement new HR processes and tools.

The CBSA implemented various additional measures to minimize Phoenix-related impacts on its employees, as outlined below.

  • Upon conversion to the Phoenix pay system, the CBSA organized an emergency call centre within the Corporate Compensation Division for faster resolution of complex and urgent cases.
  • The CBSA has invested over $5.8 million in a Pay Modernization Project to resolve complex integration issues between CAS and Phoenix (which included resourcing a tiger team of system experts).
  • The CBSA established internal dashboards, trackers, and oversight functions to enable timely identification of issues stemming from Phoenix implementation and to monitor the progression and success of the mitigation strategies to address these issues.
  • The CBSA added compensation as a standard agenda item to its Executive Committee meetings to ensure that appropriate actions were taken to address issues as they arose.
  • The CBSA implemented a fast-track process for priority payments, enabling faster access to emergency payments (this included a streamlined financial process and courier services for the delivery of urgent payments provided by compensation advisors).
  • The CBSA applied a new tiered approach to pay and compensation requests as well as a naming convention for communications to the compensation sector, thus enabling a faster resolution of urgent cases.
  • The CBSA produced manual Records of Employment to expedite the resolution of complex employee files.

The combined effects of these measures have helped to stabilize employees’ compensation issues within the organization. As of mid-October 2017, here are the CBSA statistics compared with those of organizations serviced by the Pay Centre:

  CBSA Organizations serviced by the Pay Centre
No compensation issues beyond 30 days Over 80% 33%
Students with no compensation issues beyond 30 days 99% 59%
  • The CBSA has manually corrected 35,000 key transactions between CAS and Phoenix to maintain system integrity (since May 2017).
  • As of November 1, 2017, the CBSA had
    • successfully implemented eight collective agreements; and
    • reached over 90% implementation for the outstanding signed collective agreements (PA and CS).
  • The CBSA has reduced the number of emergency salary advances required monthly from over 300 in the first months following Phoenix implementation to fewer than 30 on average in recent months.

Additionally, the CBSA increased capacity in its compensation offices by:

  • hiring additional resources, both those with compensation expertise and others, to handle less-complex compensation operations;
  • establishing a client service unit in the headquarters office to enable better communications with employees;
  • delivering comprehensive onboarding and training to its compensation advisors;
  • implementing mandatory overtime during high-volume phases, such as during collective agreement implementation;
  • pooling compensation resources across regions to help regularize workloads; and
  • establishing a team supporting the faster resolution of HR-system-generated issues.

The CBSA is also contributing to government-wide efforts via its participation in committees such as the HR to Pay Stabilization Working Group on Data, Reporting and Analytics. Participation in this working group will help ensure that departmental expertise is available, the necessary infrastructure is in place, and the performance metrics are available to meet new reporting requirements.

The CBSA’s Corporate Compensation and Training and Learning Solutions divisions are also working together to launch Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS)-designed employee training on compensation in mid-November 2017. The training will help to address a significant culture change that is needed for employees and managers. Additional training will also be rolled out later this year for compensation professionals, as per the TBS-led training strategy.

In addition, the CBSA has established an internal HR to Pay network, which enables a strategic departmental response to address compensation issues. Specifically, the Agency’s compensation, systems, financial, analytics, and communications sectors are all collaborating with the aim of stabilizing HR processes and compensation. The CBSA’s compensation service delivery model will also be reviewed to maximize efficiencies and effectiveness.

Various communications products are being drafted to ensure that managers and employees understand their roles and responsibilities in HR to Pay. A redesigned compensation section on the CBSA’s intranet site will also be launched before the end of the fiscal year. The CBSA’s compensation and communications sectors are working together to provide timely, targeted, and focused information to employees.

Notwithstanding the above-mentioned mitigation strategies to address Phoenix impacts, the CBSA is seeing increased compensation processing times and backlogs that have resulted in increased pressures on both its HR systems and compensation teams. Specifically, backlogs remain in compensation transactions such as acting appointments, deduction adjustments, overpayments, transfers, and tax slip (T4) corrections. Managing these challenges will call for investments to increase capacity within the scarce compensation community, increase our ability to analyze and resolve Phoenix interface issues, and provide an improved client experience for employees. Accordingly, the CBSA will continue to invest resources to support activities related to pay stabilization.

If you wish to obtain further information, please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Jacqueline Rigg, Vice-President of the CBSA’s Human Resources Branch, at Jacqueline.Rigg@cbsa-asfc.gc.ca or 613-948-3180.

Yours sincerely,

John Ossowski

c.c.: The Honourable Ralph Goodale, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Ms. Yaprak Baltacıoğlu, Secretary of the Treasury Board of Canada
Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat

Ms. Catrina Tapley, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations)
Privy Council Office

Mr. Les Linklater, Associate Deputy Minister
Public Services and Procurement Canada

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