Canadian Senate dumps troubled phoenix payroll system

It has issued a request for proposals for a service provider to take over payroll processing responsibilities.

The Canadian Senate is dumping the problematic Phoenix payroll system following nearly two years of headaches in which it has failed to ensure that federal employees are paid accurately and on time.

A request for proposals has been issued on the government’s buy-and-sell website, looking for a “service provider to assume responsibility for payroll processing, as well as all related pension benefit payments for all the employees of the Senate of Canada”.

Senate spokesperson Alison Korn confirmed to Global News that the move was a “direct response” to the Phoenix debacle and was designed to improve “overall autonomy”. Senate employees have been paid via Phoenix since April 2016, following its roll out earlier that year.

“In the last two years, the problems generated by the Phoenix system have negatively impacted the quality and standards of service the Senate sets for its employees,” Korn said. “While the Senate mitigated many of the challenges on its own, they continue to face unnecessary delays and errors as a direct result of the system.”

This situation was “unacceptable” to the Senate, she added, as a distinct and separate employer from the Government of Canada.

A report commissioned by the federal government and published in early October found that Phoenix had been plagued with a lack of proper definition, oversight and accountability from the outset, leading to tens of thousands of federal workers being underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all. The Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently made fixing the system a top priority for new Minister of Public Services and Procurement Carla Qualtrough, although it is still unclear how and when such activity will take place.

As a result, proceeding with the development of its own payroll system enables the Senate to “completely mitigate the issues resulting from Phoenix while continually striving for the utmost efficiency in our operations and it further establishes the autonomy of the Senate”, said Korn.