Ottawa public servants are now asking Public Services Deputy Minister Marie Lemay to assist in decreasing the shortfall in this year’s Government of Canada Charitable Workplace Campaign.
The Minister recently denied rumours that executives directly involved with the Phoenix pay system were approved to receive bonuses and performance pay. However, she fell short of confirming that no bonuses would be received. She would only specify that such bonuses remain “under review”.
Phoenix, an attempt to replace the government’s 40-year-old payment system, has caused an estimated 80,000 public servants to experience loss or interruptions of their pay, and benefits such as vacation and sick leave.
Public servant Julian Pomeroy recently expressed his personal embarassment for his reduced contributions during this year’s campaign. “I’m sorry that I’ve had to donate less this year. I am confident that by this time next year I will have paid down some of the balances on my maxed-out credit cards, caught up on outstanding bills, and resolved issues with the collection agency and credit bureaus. It will be too late to get back the things I had to sell on Kijiji, and my marriage is probably over for good, but I can at least try to do more for the less fortunate in the coming year.”
Current total donations sit at $14.6-million, or $4.4-million short of what the United Way was hoping to receive from the public service this year.
Calls for additional donations were originally directed at the public service itself. Susan Ingram, of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ottawa, and Kathryn Hill, of Family Services Ottawa, published an open letter written on behalf of 25 agencies supported by the United Way, requesting that public servants do more. Public servants reported that this demonstrated a callous lack of sensitivity for what tens of thousands have endured during the Phoenix implementation, and initially asked United Way President and CEO Brian Gallagher to donate a portion of his $1.6-million (CDN) salary to the Workplace Charitable Campaign, on the assumption that the CEO received full pay and benefits in a timely manner.
Under similar assumptions, public servants are now hopeful that Minister Lemay will direct all monies originally intended for executive bonuses into meeting the campaign’s shortfall.