Charlottetown MP Sean Casey has heard complaints about the disastrous Phoenix pay system before — but never like this.
Twelve federal employees met with Casey in his Charlottetown office on a Saturday afternoon in November, sharing their personal struggles and anxieties with the faulty pay system.
"It was a pretty impactful day," he said
"I have never had that much direct exposure to the problems in that condensed a period of time."
Casey promised to look into employees files
The federal payroll system, introduced over a year and a half ago, has improperly paid tens of thousands of federal employees across Canada and has been under siege by unions and employees.
The employees who met with Casey told him about instances in which they were overpaid and, at times, weren't notified when the government clawed the money back.
He also heard from seasonal workers whose pay was affected, which in turn affected their EI payments.
Casey said he's promised to look into the files of the workers he met with for more information and has shared their "horror stories" with the parliamentary secretary dealing with the pay system.
"For the individual people that came into the office, each and every one of them, I'm making contact through a direct line into the pay centre," he said.
"On these things when you make those representations to the folks at the political level it is something they've already heard but they need to keep hearing it — on the macro level it's a matter of saying, 'This has really hit hard some folks on P.E.I.'"
'We know it's solvable'
Casey said there seems to be "no end in sight" for the Phoenix pay problems despite the federal government earmarking hundreds of millions so far and tasking nearly 400 employees with fixing it.
"We hope it is solvable, we know it's solvable, but there's no good justification for why it has taken this long," he said.
"We're talking about hundreds of thousands of employees, it's a massive problem and one that was botched from the outset that it's taken an inordinate amount of people and money to get back on track."
The Public Service Alliance of Canada told CBC P.E.I. there are likely hundreds of federal employees impacted in the province, but it doesn't have exact numbers.
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