Medical, dental coverage ‘interrupted’ for hundreds paid through Phoenix


OTTAWA — The federal government says several hundred civil servants had their medical or dental benefits temporarily cut off as a result of ongoing issues surrounding the problem-plagued Phoenix pay system.

The short-term denial of benefits is just one of the latest issues many federal employees are struggling with as problems with the pay system persist.

Public Services and Procurement Canada had initially said in mid-December that the issue of civil servants being denied benefit coverage as a result of incorrect paycheques was not widespread.

The department has since discovered as many as 530 government employees whose work terms were extended could have been denied benefits or experienced processing delays.

Public Services maintains the problem isn’t far reaching, and that the issues that caused the benefit cut-offs in the first place have been resolved.

The auditor general reported in November that more than 150,000 civil servants — about half of the people employed by government departments and agencies — had experienced pay problems since early 2016, ranging from being overpaid to underpaid or not paid at all — in some cases for months.

During that time, the backlog of problem files has swelled to nearly 620,000, prompting suggestions that a permanent, lasting fix could take years and cost taxpayers $1 billion or more.

The Canadian Press