Susan Skaarup is one of the thousands of federal government workers caught up in the stressful, ugly confusion caused by the failure of the Phoenix pay system.
Skaarup’s personal nightmare began in August 2016 when the Department of National Defence employee was overpaid tens of thousands of dollars. Then, thanks to improper tax filings by her department, she was overpaid by the Canada Revenue Agency.
When the Phoenix system attempted to correct the error, she was first underpaid, then stopped receiving her salary altogether.
Skaarup’s patience finally ran out when pay centre employees withdrew money directly from her payroll account. That’s when she turned to her Member of Parliament in a last in a last-ditch attempt to get her mess resolved.
“It keeps me awake at night,” said Skaarup. “I was hoping with the member of Parliament putting pressure on the minister, something might be done.”
MPs inundated with pay complaints
Skaarup’s not alone in seeking out help from her elected representative.
A large number of public servants, especially in the National Capital Region where the federal government is the biggest employer, are likewise turning to their MPs in the hopes of getting their pay problems resolved.
For Skaarup, it hasn’t worked.
‘They’re still worried, and they have a right to be worried, because they deserve the right pay.’
– MP Karen McCrimmon
“There’s been no help from Karen McCrimmon’s office,” she said.
McCrimmon, the Liberal MP for Kanata-Carleton, said her office is becoming inundated with the broad spectrum of Phoenix complaints pouring in from constituents.
“They’re still worried, and they have a right to be worried, because they deserve the right pay,” said McCrimmon, who added her office is trying to triage the glut of files to deal with what she calls the “hardship, duress cases” first.
As dire as Skaarup’s situation is, it appears she hasn’t made that list yet, indicating there are others worse off.
‘It’s been a disaster’
In Orléans, a suburb densely packed with federal public servants, MP Andrew Leslie said his office has staffers who are now dedicated to sorting out Phoenix calls.
“It’s been a…