Response from Public Prosecution Service of 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 St.
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A3

Dear Mr. Wernick:

I am writing in response to your letter dated November 2, 2017, to which a reply was requested by November 9. As I was in the field for most of the week of November 6, we were unable to meet the deadline set. In addition, given the magnitude of the issues faced by our employees with respect to the Phoenix Pay System, I felt it prudent to take a few additional days to provide a more comprehensive response.

As I recently explained to Marie Lemay in a letter dealing with this matter, the Phoenix Pay System has created significant challenges for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC). In particular, the PPSC is clearly facing major recruiting setbacks. In addition, because of our small size and very small footprint with respect to corporate services, the challenges created by Phoenix are magnified by our inability to assign appropriate personnel. We have thus been forced to hire additional personnel, which is no easy task, given the significant budget deficit that is projected in the coming years.

A summary of the actions taken by the PPSC to address the problems caused by Phoenix is outlined below, organized by main themes.

Corporate Pay Liaison Unit

The PPSC established a Corporate Pay Liaison Team to accomplish any remaining tasks for which departments are still responsible after the pay files’ transfer to the Pay Centre. The team initially consisted of a manager and a pay coordinator. However, the workload required the hiring of another pay coordinator. This unit works daily to support and stabilize pay services by completing a number of tasks, including but not limited to:

  • Serving as the primary reliable source mandated to check all Pay Action Requests (PARs) requiring a manager’s section 34 approval to ensure that the types and subtypes of work are accurate and valid and avoid the flow of incorrect requests to the Pay Centre;
  • Completing data entry in the HR system (PeopleSoft) for unpaid leave, return from unpaid leave, and termination of employment as requested by PSPC and the OCHRO to reduce/eliminate associated overpayments and absence of pay;
  • Conducting complete analyses of problematic cases to determine the corrective action to be taken and provide all details to the Pay Centre through a PAR, thereby reducing the complex case review burden placed on the Pay Centre;
  • Conducting internal data audits of critical fields affecting pay, deductions, and benefits for all HR discipline data entry;
  • Responding to employees’ questions regarding their pay and benefits, as well as the processes required for different situations in order to significantly reduce the number of potential PARs submitted to the Pay Centre;
  • Working with the Pay Centre Client Satisfaction Office and the Phoenix Operations Centre to address complex cases and help resolve them; and
  • Identifying problematic “trends” through reports and other mechanisms to identify any gaps and suggest temporary or permanent solutions to the pay issue.

The unit manager regularly evaluates personnel requirements against the workload to enhance the efficiency of our services and reduce the number of requests submitted to the Pay Centre.

Financial services

Together with HR, Financial Services have established an effective internal process to proactively process emergency salary advances or priority payments in order to mitigate situations where employees have not been paid or are in a shortfall situation (problems with acting positions, after a promotion, allowances for remote positions, or others). For example, we have offered a priority payment advance to our senior LC-level managers who are waiting to receive the salary adjustments approved in June 016 and retroactive to April 1, 2015, to address the salary inequity between managers (LC) and their employees (LP). We have also established a claim process to ensure the fair treatment of employees who have incurred additional expenses due to incomplete or incorrect pay associated with the implementation of the Phoenix Pay System. As a result, and given that PPSC is a small department in terms of corporate services, other financial operations must either be foregone or postponed in order to issue emergency payments. We have had to create an additional financial officer position dedicated to reconciliations and multiple Phoenix-related tasks such as Section 33 authorizations. Financial officers responsible for Section 33 pay authorizations check each in- and off-cycle payments and work closely with HR to confirm the payments’ validity. We hope to hire a new financial officer in the coming months who would be primarily responsible for reconciling salary data to ensure their integrity.

Communications

Human Resources are responsible for regular corporate communications regarding Phoenix and pay services. These communications inform employees and managers of various pay request procedures, available training, benefits, and various pay-related topics. We regularly communicate with all employees to remind them of the importance of updating their personal information in the HR system. Various communication methods are used, including HR newsletters, our intranet site, emails, and other communication tools used by our Corporate Communications Section. We intend to strengthen our communication tools to provide our employees and managers with more relevant information on Phoenix and pay services, including the HR-to-Pay training campaign to be launched by year-end.

Training

Since the system and new delivery service model (Pay Centre) have been implemented, the Corporate Compensation and HR Systems Manager has been responsible for Phoenix and pay services training. This training is provided through a variety of ways:

  • Departmental work processes
  • Important tools and links for the HR professional community (e.g.: GCpedia Phoenix, UPK); and
  • Regular meetings with the various HR disciplines to discuss lessons learned, tips, common errors, etc.

The manager is also responsible for implementing new user-based HR-to-Pay training. The communication plan and other actions are being developed in anticipation of the launch of the HR-to-Pay training campaign. PPSC places a high priority on stabilizing pay services and has made the new HR-to-Pay training mandatory for each role. This training will be added to the list of essential training that all new hires in the Department will be required to complete. The intent is to ensure that all our employees and managers have a comprehensive understanding of their roles and duties with respect to Phoenix.

I would be pleased to answer any questions you might have.

Yours sincerely,

Kathleen Roussel
Director of Public Prosecutions

c.c.: Jody Wilson-Raybould, Attorney General of Canada

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