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Ottawa getting ready to ditch costly, error-prone Phoenix pay system

The federal government is accelerating plans to put the Phoenix public service pay system out of its misery.

Launched in 2016, the system — which cost taxpayers nearly $4 billion — has failed regularly to deliver public servants' paycheques on time, or in the right amounts.

According to the government's latest tally, more than 300,000 of 425,000 Phoenix transactions had failed to meet service standards as of last month — including 213,000 that were more than a year late.

Alex Benay, the federal official responsible for the file, said $135 million set aside in this year's budget will give a big boost to the development of Dayforce, the system which is expected to replace Phoenix in the coming years.

«We had really good news, in the sense that the government trusts our plan,» he told Radio-Canada.

Ottawa didn't make any specific announcement related to Phoenix when the new spending was made public. It's still a major increase in funding for the Dayforce project, which was launched in 2018 with an average annual budget of $25 million.

Dayforce is a payroll and human resources management system already in use by 6,000 organizations, including the governments of Ontario and California.

The federal government plans to make Dayforce its new pay system in the coming years, after conducting a series of tests that concluded in February. Ottawa pays $36 billion a year in salaries to 420,000 people.

Benay struck a cautious note, pointing out that there's still a lot of work to do before the transition to the new system. But Ottawa has abandoned all hopes of trying to salvage Phoenix for the long term.

«We need to change this situation, and I would say that there are more and more reasons to be able and to want to make a change,» he said.


Read more on cbc.ca