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Funding announced will not end Phoenix nightmare, says Atlantic PSAC VP

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Simply throwing money at the broken Phoenix pay system will not fix the problem, says the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Colleen Coffey, the regional executive vice-president for the Atlantic region, said the labour union was looking for more commitment in Tuesday’s federal budget and details on how government would repair and replace the payroll system.

While she welcomed a funding commitment of $554 million over the next four years, she said it “fell short of what’s required to end the nightmare.

“That’s a lot of taxpayer’s money, but it’s just not going to do it. It does not tie any of that money to a timeline and it didn’t commit to a permanent increase in staffing,” said Coffey, adding that the system now has a backlog of hundreds of thousands of tickets that will require additional staff to process.

“The only way to resolve that is proper staffing levels…. Talk is cheap, and if you don’t commit to it, they might as well stop talking about it.”

Coffey said the group plans to continue holding demonstrations, such as one in Charlottetown last month that marked three years since the launch of the troubled system.

The Phoenix pay system went live in February 2016 and has seen thousands of federal employees go months with little or no pay and others being overpaid. According to the association, more than 3,000 P.E.I. workers have been affected.

Coffey said she was also disappointed to see nothing announced for universal childcare and a lack of commitment to a national pharmacare plan. While there was no firm commitment to a national plan, the government announced funding to create an agency to assess drug effectiveness, negotiate prices and create a national formulary.


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