Response from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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, Room 332A
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0A3

Dear Mr. Wernick:

Thank you for your letter of November 2, 2017, regarding the government’s continued response to the challenges posed by the pay system. I recognize the excellent work already completed and still under way by departments and under the direction of the HR-to-Pay Integrated Team to address the current situation. I share your concerns and assure you that my team and I are deeply committed to contributing to efforts to stabilize the pay system and minimize the impacts on our employees.

Since onboarding to Phoenix and transferring employee accounts to the Pay Centre on February 24, 2016, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) has worked collaboratively with Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), and other departments to support our employees, including taking action to address the areas identified in the “Strengthening HR-to-Pay Contribution” document.

Infrastructure and communications

  • ISED’s Human Resources Branch (HRB) has established a Departmental Liaison Office to provide expert assistance to employees on pay-related matters and to escalate cases for resolution at the Pay Centre. The Office is responsible for delivering regular communications to all employees and managers on developments in pay, including employee and manager roles and responsibilities (such as section 34 responsibilities and the responsibility to maintain accurate personal contact information), and on the assistance available to help with pay issues. To date, the Office has escalated over 2,000 employee cases to the Pay Centre for action.
  • ISED has maintained an interdisciplinary team including representatives from the liaison office, HR operations, HR systems, and financial operations to ensure coordination of the Department’s communications, monitoring, and reporting. The team has also ensured that work related to adopting My GCHR was aligned with work supporting the new pay system.
  • HRB developed and published a guide for employees and managers on how to complete pay transactions and interact with the Pay Centre. The guide was first published in early 2016 and has been updated regularly. It has been shared with other departments and remains a key reference in all internal communications. Both TBS and the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer have identified ISED’s guide as a best practice.
  • ISED has dedicated resources including new resources and experienced former compensation advisors to oversee pay issues and assist employees with actions such as:
    • delivering emergency salary advances and priority payments;
    • administering employee claims;
    • helping employees and managers complete pay-related forms and documentation to ensure that the Pay Centre receives correct and complete information for every transaction;
    • providing centralized “trusted source” verification and submitting pay action requests (PARs);
    • performing section 33 approvals;
    • tracking and correcting rejected PARs;
    • entering certain pay-related transactions directly in My GCHR (return from leave, leave without pay over five days, and termination) to speed data entry and reduce the transactional burden on the Pay Centre;
    • monitoring human resources and pay data to try to catch errors in data entry or in data exchanges so they might be corrected before impacting employee pay; and
    • identifying potential system issues in both Phoenix and My GCHR and reporting them to PSPC.
  • In addition to encouraging employees to take the initial training on Phoenix offered by the Canada School for Public Service, ISED offered its own internal training on My GCHR (adopted at ISED in July 2016) that emphasized the impact of My GCHR transactions on employee pay and aimed to help ISED managers and employees fulfill their pay-related responsibilities in My GCHR correctly and promptly.
  • All ISED HR specialists received supplementary training and ongoing coaching to support their transition to the new systems, Phoenix and My GCHR, in an effort to minimize data entry errors that might impact pay.

Governance, leadership, and oversight

  • ISED participates on all interdepartmental advisory and governance committees related to pay, including the Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM), and Director General (DG) HR-to-Pay committees. ISED’s DG, Human Resources Branch, has been active, including through the previous DG Compensation Coordinating Committee, but also informally in consulting her counterparts across government and through the Human Resources Council. 
  • ISED worked with PSPC to gain permission for the Department to enter a number of pay-related transactions directly and to have “view” access to Phoenix so that ISED staff can provide more relevant information to employees and to the Pay Centre when seeking to resolve cases.
  • ISED’s ADMs, senior executives, and I have received regular briefings on the status of pay issues, including as a standing item on the Departmental Management Committee agenda. Each briefing includes updates on internal actions taken on pay, the number of cases tracked internally, and the case reports and dashboards provided by the Pay Centre and the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer.
  • ISED reported to the Office of the Auditor General and TBS on resources allocated to supporting pay administration in June and September 2017, respectively.
  • ISED is participating in the Interdepartmental Analysis Working Group led by TBS that is currently doing a root‑cause analysis on pay system issues.
  • ISED is also participating in a working group led by PSPC to improve data integration (“job stack alignment”) between My GCHR and Phoenix and to develop a tool to identify and repair data misalignment.

In addition to continuing with the above activities, we plan to undertake the following actions:

  • All ISED employees and managers will be mandated to take the new HR‑to-Pay training soon to be launched by TBS, which will include elements for managers on how to incorporate HR-to-Pay practices into their regular routines. This training will also address employee and manager responsibilities, including those related to section 34 approvals and the maintenance of accurate personal contact information.
  • ISED, along with Veterans Affairs Canada and the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, will be participating in a four‑month pilot of a new operational model for Pay Centre service beginning in December at the Pay Centre. The pilot reflects our continued recommendation that pay transactions not be treated in isolation, but with recognition of each employee’s whole pay file. In this context, PSPC and TBS have expressed interest in applying our expertise in lean process reviews to certain pay processes.

I appreciate the complexity and depth of the work required to stabilize the pay system and that it will take significant time and effort. Additionally, I recognize the impact pay issues are having on the reputation of the government as an employer, not only on our ability to recruit in a competitive job market but also on the willingness of public servants to transfer between departments or take acting opportunities based on the possibility they may be left without pay for a period of time.

ISED has significant compensation expertise, which it will continue to leverage to ensure that internal processes are streamlined and effective and to contribute to government-wide efforts under the Integrated Plan. I will continue to encourage my staff to support employees and managers in handling and minimizing pay issues and to collaborate with their counterparts at PSPC and in other departments so that we may reach stabilization as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible under the circumstances.

Yours sincerely,

John Knubley

c.c.: The Honourable Navdeep Bains, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, P.C., M.P.
The Honourable Bardish Chagger, P.C., M.P.

Date modified: