Roundup: Phoenix transactions and rules culls

Public services minister Carla Qualtrough sent a letter to public servants apologizing for continued Phoenix pay problems as the number of backlogged transactions reaches 520,000. But that’s what I think needs to be highlighted here – these are transactions, not public servants being affected, which we don’t have a clear number on. Part of why there are so many backlogged transactions – and likely to be growing for the short term – is because the new collective agreements came into force, which add new complications to the ongoing transactions, so while those get sorted, the backlog may continue to loom large. Apparently, there was also a recent chance in how these were being addressed, so we’ll see how much of an effect that has on the outstanding transaction total.

Meanwhile, public service union PIPSC is calling on the government to cull the number of convoluted pay rules that are currently clogging the system, but this is one of those issues where I’m not sure that they may be a wee bit disingenuous. PIPSC maintains that it’s all Treasury Board’s fault that there are so many rules, because they’re the ones who ensure there are all of the exceptions around overtime or acting status, and so on, and that they should be the ones to do the cull. But as Kathryn May points out, there is a reluctance to do this, even by means of special negotiations, because the unions are very touchy about any particular changes that they might see as rolling back any employee’s rights or benefits. And if you don’t think the reluctance is real, if memory serves, the last public service strike happened when the government wanted to phase out some old classifications with few employees in them, and the unions balked. (I also seem to recall that the deal they ended up getting was possibly worse off to save these obsolete classifications, which soured many of the public servants that I knew on the whole thing). So yeah, there are problems with the vast number of pay rules in place, and that has certainly had a detrimental effect on the whole Phoenix pay system, but I think that if the unions aren’t engaging in any self-reflection over this, then that may be adding to the problems.

Good reads:

  • The board of the Infrastructure Bank was unveiled, and the chair says there are opportunities to help invest in Indigenous communities’ infrastructure.
  • In Bonn, Catherine McKenna has managed to get more than 25 other countries to sign onto phasing out coal-powered generation.
  • The Chief of Defence Staff says that training foreign troops will be the “flagship” of our new UN peacekeeping strategy; a former general calls it “condescending.”
  • The Commons justice committee will start a study on how to better support jury members traumatized by the trials they sat on.
  • Here’s an attempt to suss out who might be the next Supreme Court of Canada appointment, despite the competing diversity requirements.
  • Quebec’s cannabis legislation restricts it to government sales and no home growth, apparently because of “overwhelming” public pressure.
  • Two staff members from the MMIW Inquiry – one in Manitoba, one in the Yukon – were fired this week, and each tells their tales of woe.
  • Here’s a look at the tension between pro-development First Nations and the (mostly white) environmental movement that seeks to block projects.
  • Now that Facebook is making political ads transparent, here’s an analysis of Liberal and Conservative ads. (Note: There are no NDP ads).
  • The Canadian Press’ Baloney Metre™ checks on the CRA promise that they have “identified” $25 billion in sheltered taxes to be recouped.
  • In light of the mandate tracker, Aaron Wherry considers the rate of promises being kept by previous governments, and whether this government made too many.
  • Martin Patriquin points out why Andrew Scheer’s new ad is deliberately bad.


Odds and ends:

Conservative Senator Tobias Enverga passed away while on a parliamentary trip to Colombia.