Phoenix overall queue and backlog decrease


This note focuses on the ongoing reduction of the overall queue and backlog, implementation of collective agreements, taxes, overpayments and underpayments.

All questions related to Next Generation pay solution should be directed to the President of the Treasury Board.

Suggested Response

If pressed on taxes:


Queue and Backlog

It is estimated that almost half of public servants are experiencing some form of pay issue. In total, as of November 27, 2019, there are approximately 401,000 transactions ready to be processed at the Pay Centre, including 214,000 with financial impact beyond the normal workload.

The overall queue of transactions waiting to be processed has decreased by 37% since January 2018, representing a reduction of 232,000 transactions.

Over the same period of time, the backlog of transactions with financial implications has decreased by 44%, representing a reduction of170,000 transactions.

Tax Filing Season

The 2019 Year-End Tax plan includes clear direction on robust testing, completion of dry runs, quality and integrity verification of data, implementation of the tax updates, as well as communication of year-end information to the Compensation community and employees.

Tax slips for 2019 will be released to federal employees on a staggered schedule by the end of February 2020.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) continues to actively work with departments and agencies to communicate with employees who may receive amended tax slips because of outstanding issues with their pay file.

The total volume of amended tax slips for 2018 is significantly lower than in the previous year. As of October 2019, there were approximately 32,000 amended tax slips produced for 2018 compared to 205,000 for 2017.

Under current legislation, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will cease to automatically review amended T4s for 2016 by January 2020. Clients will need to request reassessments, which CRA has agreed to facilitate. Communications for staff are being developed.


In recognition of extraordinary challenges due to the backlog, recovery of most overpayment balances will not begin until all of the employee’s outstanding pay transactions have been processed; the employee has received three consecutive accurate pays; and the employee has indicated their preferred repayment option.

To note, these flexibilities do not apply to routine operations—for example overpayments are recovered from first available funds for Leave Without Pay (LWOP) less than five (5) days.

It is important to note that when PSPC reports a balance of overpayments, the figure includes both true overpayments and administrative overpayments. True overpayments represent employees receiving pay that they are not entitled to, whereas administrative overpayments are part of the system’s design and have no impact on employees.

As the Phoenix pay system cannot segregate true overpayments from administrative overpayments, it is not possible to accurately provide specific figures for true overpayments, which represent money owed to the Government.


Employees who have been underpaid can request emergency salary advances or priority payments from their departments.

Unpaid amounts owed to employees can be related to several factors. They can result from regular pay transactions such as overtime and acting pay that are not yet processed or due to errors.

Underpayments are not automatically tracked in the Phoenix pay system because it is impossible to obtain these figures accurately until all backlogged pay related transactions are processed by compensation advisors.

Collective agreement implementation—2014 and 2018 Contracts

With regard to the 2014 round, there are currently 123 Treasury Board Secretariat and separate employer’s agreements and salary rate updates that have been processed, representing more than $2 billion in payments to employees.

As part of the implementation of the 2014 round, PSPC processed approximately 207,000 collective agreement transactions manually.

To ensure retroactive payment amounts are accurate, PSPC is conducting a review of payments to employees in all groups.

In August 2019, the first of the 2018 round of collective agreements were signed. The implementation of a number of these collective agreements is underway.

Lessons learned from the implementation of the 2014 round of bargaining allowed PSPC to collaborate with departments and agencies, and bargaining agents to simplify processes, improve accuracy of payment and reduce the need for manual work.

Treasury Board Secretariat (TBS) is responsible for engagement with PSPC, employees and unions on collective and compensation agreements. PSPC is working with TBS to identify options that will ensure the next round of collective agreements is processed in an efficient and timely manner.

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