Skip to comments.Phoenix: 'How can you ask someone to serve their country when you can't even pay them?' (Canada)
Posted on 03/01/2018 1:12:31 PM PST by nickcarraway
Every other Monday morning, Jillian Graham plays a game she calls Russian roulette.
The 36-year-old Canada Revenue Agency tax collector arrives at her office in Prince George, B.C., and goes online to see how big or small her paycheque will be that week. It should be somewhere around $1,500, she says, but thats rarely the case. Sometimes its too much, like the $1,742 she received last November. On other occasions, its woefully short her pay immediately before Christmas last year, for example, was only $214, she says.
Graham suffers anxiety/depression, and her bi-weekly adventures in that circle of hell known as the Phoenix pay system do nothing to assuage her uneasiness.
It will determine what my mood is going to be like for the next two weeks, she says, which is very important for me because some days I cant get out of bed. Thats what depression and anxiety does.
Her entire family has been affected by her Phoenix problems, she adds. I have a dog and a cat and my sister helps me pay for their food right now because I cant. Ive borrowed something like $15,000 from my family to get food, to get medication, to get tires for my car, to pay my rent.
She says she stays awake late into the night worrying about how shell make it to her next paycheque, and blames at least some of her grey hairs on Phoenix. Shes learned to make one-dollar bags of pasta last as long as possible. Shes considered giving up her car. When she visits her parents, they send her home with packages of meat.
How can you ask someone to serve their country, even in something as, quote-unquote, menial as a bureaucratic position red tape and collections and taxes how can you ask anybody to serve their country when you cant even pay them? Jillian Graham. And lets not start on my credit record, she says, because Ive missed payments. Ive had to decide what to pay this time and what not to pay, so my credit record is screwed. I was hoping to buy a house by 2020, but its going to be 2023 at least, because I need five years at least to get my credit history improved.
Im already on pretty much the maximum dosage of my medication. I should be living here in this little haze of happiness. I should be like an automaton. But Im not.
Exasperated, she sent a lengthy handwritten letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, describing her situation.
Im done, she explained. I dont know what else to do.
Bagnall: Phoenix replacement ready by 2025 at the earliest, repairs for current system top $900M
Graham has multiple issues that affect her pay, difficulties that sometimes exacerbate one another, like a pinball game in multi-ball mode. She describes herself as a poster child for what Phoenix can and cannot do. Handling leave without pay is one of the things, she says, it is seemingly not designed to do.
She had just returned from a five-month medical leave in October 2016. Her four-day work week included 4½ hours of unpaid leave, which, between December 2016 and August 2017, Phoenix wasnt processing properly, usually generating overpayments.
In March 2017, she went on a four-week unpaid leave related to her anxiety. Her pay was only stopped when she returned from leave, and then only for two weeks. She had applied through EI for medical benefits for the four weeks, for which she needed to produce her Record of Employment, or ROE, which employers are required to produce within five calendar days of the end of the first pay period affected. CRA issued hers at the end of May.
Graham got her MP involved, printed her pay stubs from the previous six months, and had Service Canada create a manual ROE, which indicated that she had worked more than the 600 hours required for $1,600 in medical benefits. The ROE she finally received from CRA at the end of May confirmed this.
Meanwhile, and almost unrelated, her Union of Taxation Employees had agreed in October 2016 to relinquish its right to voluntary severance, to be replaced instead by a buyout. Having worked for about a decade, Graham was entitled to roughly $12,000, which she requested at the end of January.
Instead, I got about $4,000. They went through my account and said, Oh, all these little $250 overpayments from my 4-1/2 hours every week, that we never clawed back. We have to claw them back now.
Fine, she thought, just get it all sorted. She took the $4,000 and went to Disney World.
A timeline of the Phoenix pay debacle: 29 years and counting
In August, CRA issued her a new ROE that indicated shed only worked 590 hours, not 600. The $1,600 in medical benefits would have to be returned. She asked Service Canada to reconsider, but her request was denied. Shes had to get an emergency salary advance just to make ends meet, and says there are still clawbacks on her pay stubs that she doesnt recognize. As things stand, shes not sure if she owes money or is owed.
I dont even know if theyve screwed up my pay. I dont know. I live in constant fear every time I think Ive sat down and reconciled it, Im wrong. And how can you fight it? They push a button and they get a report, and Im like, Well, its based off my time sheets. I guess Ill just go with what Goliath says, because Im not exactly David here; I dont have the story behind me. Im just that little person trying to do her job.
She estimates shes spent two hours a week for the past 18 months, or roughly 150 hours, trying to sort it all out. If you add in the loss of morale, she guesses her productivity is down by about 10 hours a week. And she has little hope that anything is going to change anytime soon.
Im at the point where I just dont think its going to get fixed. I have no faith in it. I love my job and Ive always advocated for people to work in the federal government, but right now I tell them, Its still a great place to work; just make sure youve got money, just in case youre one of the ones.
Im theoretically 19 years from retirement, she adds. Im hoping that maybe theyll have it sorted out by then.
(A spokesperson for Public Services, which is responsible for Phoenix, said privacy legislation prevents the department from discussing details of the employment and pay of individual federal government employees.)
Socialized PAYROLL is as bad as Socialized MEDICINE!
Easy fix - have Justin Trudeau dress up as a paymaster, eyeshade and sleeves covers. He’s good at costumes.
It seems like we are not getting a clear picture of the 2 sides of the story, IMHO. It sounds like she takes a lot of time off for illness, some paid and some unpaid. It sounds like, when she has been overpaid, she has not done anything to set aside money for leveling out her income. It sounds like she is expecting to get $1,500 per week for 4 days of work per week? But she spends so much time having anxiety and trying to figure out her pay, that she barely works at all?
I am not sure I agree with her attitude that she is “serving her country”, when I think about our boys’ enlistments in the Marine Corps.
Just my 2 cents...
Fine, she thought, just get it all sorted. She took the $4,000 and went to Disney World.
Much of her problem, she says, is because she takes so much unpaid leave, which the system has a problem with.
She is likely unemployable by a private company.
The article is a completely one-sided “woe is me” tear jerker.
Most of her problems seem to be self-inflicted.
OK - I read it and I have only question. What in the devil is Phoenix besides a city in Arizona, USA??
I just skimmed the article. But it seems she was in and out enough to screw up even the best run pay systems.
I had a hard time following her woes.
If you mess with the system enough, you are going to have a nightmare paycheck. Perhaps if she showed up every day for eight weeks without doing something out of the norm.
I guarantee if she did that, she would probably still have to bum dog food off her sister.
1. Quit and go to work for an employer that pays their employees.
2. Sue your previous employer for back pay plus penalties and interest.
3. Never vote Communist, ever again.
Never rely on the federal government for your money. If they decide not to pay, you can’t go over their head.
She can’t work because she is anxious??
Pretty-face trudeau using the money to buy off the new immigrants? The army is not his top priority, as with all self-loathing wimpy-face socialists.
>>The article is a completely one-sided woe is me tear jerker.
Most of her problems seem to be self-inflicted.<<
Absolutely DEAD ON.
When I read a headline “serve her country” I expect a soldier, not a petty, self-absorbed, rather lazy bureaucrat.
Read a lot of the replies and they seem unsympathetic. I do agree she has some issues, but no company should be allowed to continually screw up a person’s paycheck.
That’s Business 101. Simply no excuses. If a private business did this, there would be hell to pay.
Well, it sounds like she contributes to the mess. If she would show up for a full week’s work, she’d get a full week’s pay. But she plays the crazy card to take time off when she wants.
She can’t pay for medicine but can afford a trip to Disney World. She admits she goofs off 2 to 10 hours a week while on the clock.
What would a private company do? Fire her, probably.
Phoenix is the new Gov’t of Canada federal employees pay system. As is typical of massive IT megaprojects, it was projected to save money, be more efficient etc.... and has turned into a complete disaster.
It was supposed to cost around 300 million in total. The current estimated cost to fix is 5 billion.
It has created massive problems, both in pay errors and tax errors.
For example, in my case, I retired at the end of 2016 and my pension started then. But I was paid as a regular employee for the first 5 months of 2017. They want to recover the 5 month overpayment, but they can’t calculate the correct amount.
I had to pay $25K in additional taxes in error for tax year 2016 because Phoenix understated taxes deducted for 2014-2016. I got most of my money back when Phoenix issued a “revised” statement of income and taxes deducted - but only because Phoenix understated my total income by $60K. (It also had me living in Quebec, which I never did).
Phoenix has also added $40K in error to my 2014 income. My accountant says I will be reassessed on that, but it hasn’t happened yet.
The backlog to get reassessed by Canada Revenue Agency is 2 years. However, there is no point in starting until I have an accurate statement of income and taxes deducted for 2014-2016.
I am waiting to see what joys the 2017 tax year will bring. No tax statements have been issued yet, so there must b problems with those calculations as well.
Phoenix is creating 250,000 pay errors per month, so that’s 6 million pay errors since April 2016 to be corrected.
I don’t think this thing will ever be fixed.
In case people have not got the word on massive, complex, overreaching, stupid government - this should be the lesson, but they don’t take it.
Why would any Canadian trust a gov’t to change the climate of the earth, when it can’t even pay it’s own employees correctly ?
She ought to have taken the $4,000 and put it into a contingency fund that she could draw on when the system screwed her over.
It's been done, ask America's Revolutionary soldiers.
Atta girl, Dream big.
I am not sure I agree with her attitude that she is serving her country, when I think about our boys enlistments in the Marine Corps.