Phoenix Testimony During COVID-19

How has Phoenix impacted your workplace as a whole?

Phoenix has impacted a lot of the employees in my division. It’s had devastating effects. Employees become upset, depressed, stressed to the point where they cannot function, and Phoenix has caused increased sick leave since employees have difficulty coping or understanding why this is happening to them.

What kinds of impacts have you seen/heard it have on people?

The impacts of Phoenix manifest themselves in different ways such as stress, anxiety, depression and despair. Public servants go to work each day thinking we will be paid for our efforts and to realize that you’re not receiving pay makes you feel worthless. You become stressed out and worry how you’re going to survive.  Bills and financial obligations don’t stop and often there is no where to turn!

It’s overwhelming and humiliating to ask family members and friends for help, and they can only help so long. During a pandemic, Phoenix makes things worse! I have talked to other employees who’ve been affected by Phoenix and they lost their vehicles, homes and a few have lost their lives. The government is aware of this and hasn’t done enough to resolve the crisis: how many more people must live with Phoenix despair? The pandemic coupled with Phoenix is making me feel even more hopeless. It’s hard to believe that this is happening to me as a Federal employee given 19 years of service.

Has Phoenix directly impacted you? (If so) how?

Phoenix has affected me during a pandemic when finances are needed the most to survive. I did not receive any pay recently. I called the pay centre and they said the system skipped me for the whole pay period.  If my pay issues are not corrected by the next pay cycle, I don’t know what I am going to do. I will have to go to a food bank, and I don’t know what I am going to do about my finances. It will destroy my credit and I will encounter future hardships. It’s terrible timing. If it continues, I know I will fall into a deep depression.

How does it feel to live in the middle of Phoenix and now COVID-19?

It’s extremely stressful having to deal with both COVID-19 and Phoenix pay issues. Not receiving my pay is shocking and I am stressed beyond belief. I don’t know where to turn, and I have lost all faith in the system. I will be constantly worrying about my finances and if I will get paid on time or the correct amount. It’s unbearable and although Employee Assistance Program (EAP) exists, the program doesn’t provide funds to purchase food and pay bills. It is not a valid solution to the issues caused by Phoenix. EAP provides some financial support but in the end the stress and depression I am experiencing will stay with me until I retire! I wonder that when I retire if Phoenix will be resolved and we’ll receive our compensation?

What do you think about what the government has done/offered so far?

The government has not done enough to help Phoenix affected employees. They continue to pour funds into a failing system. It’s not working, and the money Phoenix was supposed to save the government has only cost us billions more then its original savings. I find it unacceptable for a Federal Government, especially in Canada, to count on its employees to carry out critical work without pay, missing proper pay, or not being paid at proper levels. If it happened to MPs, I am sure it would have been addressed and corrected in no time. We are not a marginalized country and we are supposed to be a democratic society that treats people fairly and respectfully.

What can PSAC members do now?

PSAC members need to stand up and unite to let the government know it’s not ok. Once this pandemic is over, action must be taken to ensure this system is corrected. If we can rally together to deal with this pandemic, then they should be able to resolve Phoenix long ago and tackle the issue right away.

What do you think the government needs to do about Phoenix?

The federal government needs to solve this problem. I know were in the middle of a crisis and it’s not going to happen anytime soon, but they need to be aware that Phoenix is still happening during the pandemic. At a time where everything is unpredictable and to be without any funds is unacceptable. The government has showed how they can solve finically issues during this pandemic so why has it taken them so long to solve their own employee’s issues?

What would it feel like to see Phoenix finally dealt with properly?

If Phoenix was finally resolved and employees could depend on being paid for their work, it would be such a relief. It would help the healthcare system strained because many employees suffered related health problems. A lot of public servants are depressed, stressed beyond normal and many are now dependent on prescription drugs. This problem can not continue to grow and it’s costing the country millions. It’s taking its tole on people’s health and life.

Submitted by C.B., a public servant.