Response from Canadian Institutes of Health Research

From Public Services and Procurement Canada

November 8, 2017

Michael Wernick
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A3

Dear Mr. Wernick,

On behalf of Dr. Roderick McInnes, please find below the context, actions taken to date and the actions that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) plans to take to help stabilize the pay system and to ensure employees are paid accurately and on time. This is in response to your letter dated November 2, 2017 related to the challenges posed by the Phoenix Pay System.

Context

  • CIHR is a separate agency under Schedule V of the Financial Administration Act (FAA).
  • CIHR is non-unionized with approximately 509 employees (Full Time Equivalent).
  • CIHR is an organization not being serviced by the Pay Center in Miramichi and continues to benefit from on-site Compensation Advisors for all pay transactions.
  • There are minimal transactions to be approved by Managers under section 34 of the FAA reducing the risk of over and underpayments since all CIHR staff are entered as “salaried employees” in Phoenix.
  • Current pay stabilization dashboard shows that CIHR is in a very good position (e.g. total number of open cases over 30 days old was 10 for employees and 0 for students on October 31 2017).
  • No claim related to financial hardship was reported to the Departmental Claims Office.

Actions taken to date by CIHR

Pay Administration:

  • Compensation advisors have the flexibility to manage their schedules, undertake overtime and/or telework to ensure transactions are processed in a timely manner.
  • CIHR enters students in Phoenix as “salaried employees” instead of “hourly” reducing the number of approvals to be performed in Phoenix by Managers under section 34 of the FAA and reducing the risk of over and underpayments, while maintaining key financial controls.

Collaboration:

  • Improved collaboration among Compensation, Staffing and Finance employees to ensure timely pay actions and problem resolution (e.g. 2 days service standards to issue an emergency salary advance (ESA)).
  • Every request for salary advance was actioned for a total of 159 ESAs since Phoenix implementation.
  • Introduction of variance analysis and internal controls to ensure appropriate review is performed when approving “On and Off cycle pay” under section 33 of the FAA.

Communication to employees:

  • Communication to employees about the importance to review their pay stub on the Mondays of pay week to determine accuracy and to advise their Compensation Advisor as soon as possible if they detect an issue.  Issues identified on Mondays are processed the same day to ensure employees are getting an ESA on payday.
  • Communication to Managers about the importance of approving transactions under section 34 of the FAA in a timely manner.
  • All employees and Managers were encouraged to take the initial Phoenix training (well over 90% participation rate).

Reporting:

  • All mandatory reporting is done on time and identified issues are addressed to improve our pay services (i.e. over and under payment, Dashboard, etc.).

Actions CIHR is planning to take

  • Establishment of a strategy and plan for the participation in the HR-to-Pay Stabilization training.
  • Compensation advisors and staffing professionals will participate in the in-person and Web-Ex training.
  • Continue to communicate regularly to our employees and managers.
  • CIHR participated in the Treasury Board consultation for their Guideline on Financial Management of Pay Administration.  The Guideline will be fully implemented when published.

Rest assured that CIHR is committed to work collectively to help stabilize the system and resolve the challenges. Should you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Thérèse Roy, CPA, CA

Chief Financial Officer / Vice-President, Resource Planning and Management
Canadian Institutes of Health Research / Government of Canada
therese.roy@cihr-irsc.gc.ca / Tel: 613-954-1946

cc:
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health

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