Response from Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission

From Public Services and Procurement Canada

Michael Wernick
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
Room 332
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0A3

Dear Mr. Wernick:

I am writing to you in response to your letter dated November 2, 2017, in which you inquired about the actions that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) has taken and plans to take to help stabilize the irregularities created by the Phoenix pay system.

The CRTC, I assure you, has been actively contributing to the efforts to resolve the system-wide challenges posed by Phoenix. In the last year, the Commission has provided extensive input to interdepartmental committees and pilot projects. More recently, several CRTC employees joined the Public Services and Procurement Canada new Pay Stabilization Project team.

The CRTC has approximately 500 employees, more than half of whom have been impacted in some respect by the implementation of the Phoenix pay system. As of November 6, 2017, according to our log, there remain 262 active cases at the CRTC, impacting over 220 employees. A large majority of these cases are related to over and underpayments linked to changes in employment status such as those resulting from acting appointments, promotions, maternity leave or leave without pay.

Following the implementation of the Phoenix pay system in 2016, the CRTC established a small internal unit to support the pay functions of the Miramichi Pay Centre and thereby reduce the impact of pay issues on CRTC employees. This unit ensures the implementation, maintenance and communication of the policies, directives, roles and responsibilities related to compensation and Phoenix. It also logs and closely monitors all cases; ensures timely liaison with central agencies and the pay centre; carries out complex financial calculations; analyzes pay records to identify over and underpayments; and recommends appropriate remedial actions. I receive regular reports on overall employee pay status and am kept abreast of important Phoenix updates, which are also communicated in a timely fashion to all CRTC employees. 

The CRTC has developed a standardized term of agreement for priority payments for employees impacted by Phoenix pay issues. This allows each employee to request a priority payment directly from the CRTC without having to interact with the Miramichi Pay Centre. This approach has proven effective in fast-tracking payments to employees and permits the employee to repay the emergency salary advance within a reasonable period of time once their pay has been regularized.

One challenge with our ability to assist the pay centre in reducing the backlog has been the restriction of Phoenix access rights to employees who work in traditional “compensation advisor” positions. Currently, employees who have obtained full access rights as a result of extensive Phoenix training may lose their access upon transfer to a new organization, even if they still assist departments with compensation-related issues in their new role. Ensuring flexibility and transferability of Phoenix access rights for trained employees who transfer among pay-centre-serviced organizations would go a long way in reducing the backlog and resolving issues.

In the future, the CRTC will continue to support the Pay Stabilization Project and other government-wide initiatives intended to resolve pay issues. The CRTC will continue to report on our challenges and successes so that best practices can be shared and we can move forward collectively. Internally, we will continue to provide timely priority payments as required. We will also continue to communicate regularly with our employees so they are informed of pay issues that could affect their well-being and of how the employer is responding to these issues. We will ensure the accuracy of employee contact information and data in our human resources systems. We will also increase capacity to analyze salary data and implement internal controls in order to proactively address pay issues, provide confidence in the accuracy of employee payments and avoid hardship before it occurs.

The CRTC approach to date has been to provide employees with expert and personalized service in response to their enquiries. We expect our focused efforts in this regard will continue to have a positive impact on employee morale.

Sincerely yours,

Ian Scott

c.c.: The Honourable Mélanie Joly, P.C., M.P., Minister of Canadian Heritage
Les Linklater, Associate Deputy Minister, Public Services and Procurement Canada
Yaprak Baltacioğlu, Secretary of the Treasury Board
Catrina Tapley, Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet (Operations), Privy Council Office

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