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Deputy in charge of Phoenix payroll system delivers update today

The federal government is expected to deliver yet another update this afternoon on its efforts to clear thousands of employee payroll issues, some of which have been stuck in a queue since before June.

Marie Lemay, deputy minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada, has been delivering biweekly updates on how compensation advisers have been handling a backlog of cases since the problem-plagued Phoenix payroll system was implemented.

She is expected to provide an update today at 3:45 p.m. ET.

Employees began reporting pay problems almost as soon as Phoenix rolled out across the country in the spring.

The government acknowledged in July that there were more than 80,000 public servants who had by June reported some pay problems, with the majority being underpaid, while some have been overpaid or not paid at all.

Two weeks ago, that backlog was still at 22,000. Lemay said at the time the focus of her team was to figure out a plan to get the department to a position where it is handling claims quickly enough to comply with the department’s standards of service.

Employees still facing issues

While the government has insisted it continues to work hard to eliminate the backlog and handle new cases as they come,  federal employees CBC News has spoken with say they continue to face issues.

Bryan, Jayme and Edyth Drummond

Jayme Drummond, right, hasn’t had her maternity leave topped up in months. (Denis Babin/Radio-Canada)

Jayme Drummond, an Environment Canada employee who went on maternity leave in July, said she is owed more than $8,000 in missing pay.

She said though she submitted her maternity leave in March, her request wasn’t processed until the middle of September. She was overpaid, then had the money clawed back, and then wasn’t topped up for her maternity leave.

Her husband Bryan had also gone on paternity leave to help look after their newborn daughter Edyth, adding to their financial stress.

“We’re getting very frustrated,” she said. “We’re getting stressed out and having to put a lot of our life on hold. How is this still happening?

‘There’s no end in sight’

“I haven’t been paid for two months, and I should have been priority No. 1 on top of the pile. And it’s been two months and I’ve still not once heard from [the] pay centre. We have no information and there’s no end in sight.”

Drummond said she and her husband were hoping to travel to see family and show them their newborn, but say right now, all travel is on hold.

Government officials have said the claims handling process is one that compensation advisors are getting better at as they get up to speed with the Phoenix system, but that some claims are more time-consuming than others.

But Bryan Drummond said they can’t seem to get answers from anyone they speak with.

“Any sort of contact with them is just another run around,” he said. “Just another circle that keeps going around in a loop. It’s an endless wheel.”