The Phoenix disaster in Ottawa is possibly one of the most shocking legacies of Stephen Harper’s time as Prime Minister.
The federal government payroll system, implement during his tenure, has never worked properly and the ongoing “investments” to fix the system have added up to a total cost, so far, of $1.192 billion (Cdn).
“Sinking good money after bad”
This according to a CBC News request for an accurate and current tally of the Phoenix costs from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC).
“Seems like right from the start, they’ve painted a much rosier picture than there was, and [have been] playing a bit of a shell game with the numbers to make it look better, and I don’t think it’s helpful,” Debi Daviau, president of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, told CBC News.
“Sinking good money after bad is not a solution that works for public servants, and it doesn’t work for Canadians.” she said.
It began with an initial investment of $309 million (Cdn) to develop Phoenix, which was sold as a way to save the government $70 million a year.
There was the new pay centre in Miramichi, New Brunswick, an employment-challenged province, with the the IBM contract, and other professional services contracts.
But the system was plagued with problems from the start.
“The government has decided not to harvest savings of $70 million a year in 2016/2017, 2017/2018 and 2018/2019 to provide departments with additional resources to support employees,” said a news release from Public Services and Procurement Canada.
Out of Canada’s 290,000 federal civil servants, nearly 80,000 employees have been left in distress over accurate pay, with many having gone several pay periods without any financial remuneration.
Tallying the Phoenix toll
- $309 million: IBM contract, professional services contracts, program costs, 2009.
- $210 million: $70 million per year of unrealized savings from 2016 to 2019.
- $28 million: Advances to unions from 2017 to 2019.
- $50 million: Building capacity, enhancing technology, supporting employees, 2016.
- $142 million: Building capacity, enhancing technology, supporting employees, 2017.
- $431.4 million: Building capacity, enhancing technology, supporting employees, Budget 2018.
- $5.5 million: For CRA to process income tax reassessments related to Phoenix, Budget 2018.
- $16 million: Researching a new pay system, Budget 2018.
Total: $1.192 billion.
(With files from CBC)