Feds recruit retirees to help fix Phoenix

by Stefan Keyes, CTV Ottawa

Several retired public servants who spoke with CTV News say they are disgusted with a “desperate” notice they received in their mailboxes recently.

Along with a regular newsletter from their former employer, is a notice trying to gauge their “interest” in coming back to work.

The Government of Canada header is accompanied by the words “Call for Interest” with the subtitle “Making a difference for your colleagues.”

It then goes on to say “Public Services and Procurement Canada is looking for current and former public servants who are hard-working, passionate and want to resolve public service pay problems.”

In so many words, it boils down to help us fix Phoenix.

It’s being considered bait to hook retirees familiar with government departments and pay systems. But some say, the net has been cast too wide with reports of people as old as 85 being targeted.

“It probably could have been -- or maybe should have been -- more targeted,” admits union vice-president Chris Aylward. “But we had no control over that and it sounds like it went out to some sort of retiree mailing list."

"We certainly are in favour of the letters going out because we know we need to get these people back," says Aylward.

He adds some of the incentives are as follows:

  • Lump sum payments
  • Job Classification Review
  • Double-pay for overtime

A spokesperson for Public Services and Procurement Canada only points to the website when asked about outstanding cases.

It lists 237,000 in the backlog as of August 23, 2017. The Pay Centre also reports 80,000 cases came in last month while only 71,000 cases were able to be processed.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, still pointing fingers at the previous Harper government, says “it is unacceptable in any circumstance, especially federal government workers not being paid; that's why we’re working so hard to fix this issue.”