Mr. Speaker, as we draw ever closer to the holiday season and the end of the year, there is still no end in sight for public service workers who have been caught up in the boondoggle known as Phoenix.
The government has missed its own deadline of October 31, and 15,000 cases still have not been resolved.
On September 19, at the government operations committee, the minister said that she was confident the October 31 deadline was realistic and that her department reassured her it would be met. Now that we are quite a long way past the October 31 deadline, the government still has not given a new timeline for when it expects the remaining cases to be resolved.
According to the last update given by the deputy minister, we now know the Phoenix pay system is behind on 200,000 compensation transactions, the equivalent of two month's work.
We have heard a lot of rhetoric, or should we say wishful thinking, about getting to a steady state, but all we see is a system that continues to fall behind. New pay requests are supposed to be met within 20 days, but only 20% to 30% of this service standard is currently being met.
There is another growing concern now as we approach the end of the year and the government has to start issuing T4s to its employees. The government has given no reassurances that the T4s will be correct. This will put an additional burden on employees who will have to sort out their own T4s with no help from government. This can only add to the confusion and chaos.
This state of affairs is not only troubling and stressful for employees who are not getting paid; it is also an embarrassing fiasco for the minister and the government. They have repeatedly stated that this situation is unacceptable. However, it is unclear what unacceptable means to the minister. It certainly does not mean that thousands of employees will finally be paid properly. It does not mean that the T4s will be accurate. It does not mean that workers who still show up to work every day will be able to make ends meet, let alone celebrate the holidays.
If the minister truly finds this unacceptable, then why does she not do something about it? It clearly is not unacceptable enough, because 15,000 cases are still unresolved and new ones are still being logged.
I have a suggestion for the minister. Perhaps in solidarity with the employees who have not been paid she would defer her own salary until the debacle is finally fixed. This gesture would signal that the minister does take this problem seriously. I am sure the affected employees would appreciate the minister walking a mile in their shoes. Will the minister do this?