Next Generation HR and Pay, and how we’re going to do things differently

August 28, 2018

As the President recently announced, the Government of Canada is taking steps towards the creation of a new pay system. It’s important and exciting work, and we’re committed to doing things differently. We’re exploring options for a next generation HR and pay system that can eventually replace Phoenix.

What will be different?

The question that I’m sure is on a lot of people’s mind right now is: what will be different? First and foremost is that we need a system that can better integrate our human resources and pay services. The next generation HR and pay system will be mobile, accessible, and available 24/7, because that is exactly what our public servants expect, and deserve, from a modern system.

It will also be grounded on the understanding that people management goes well beyond employment transactions:

  • It must be an integral part of operational objectives – getting the job done -- and requires ongoing leadership and investment of time and resources.
  • Everyone must be engaged: managers, employees, human resources practitioners, central organizations, and bargaining agents.
  • It must centre on users, including employees, compensation advisors and managers, who are involved at all stages of system design, development and implementation.

We have every intention of building the system the right way. We’ve committed to working with experts, unions and technology providers to build a system that places employee needs at the centre of design, is informed by past experiences, and is mindful of risks. Most importantly, we commit to remaining agile throughout the process, and to course correct without hesitation.

We need a new modern system that supports users from the day they are hired to the day they leave the public service.

Stabilizing the current system is still crucial

The recognition that Phoenix is not the long-term solution does not take away from the importance of stabilizing it. We have to do this before we transition to a new system because paying employees accurately and on time is critical.

Public Services and Procurement Canada is leading this important work, with the support of the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Through the integrated team, we will continue to devote every effort to finding solutions, and to make this right for our employees.

Our promise to be open on the path forward

Throughout the process of stabilizing Phoenix and identifying a new HR and pay system, we plan to issue frequent, transparent communications. We’ll also use different communications channels to update on project milestones, and when possible, provide a glimpse “behind the scenes” of work in progress.

And with that in mind, I’m happy to share that so far this summer we have:

  • conducted a preliminary vendor analysis
  • issued a Notice of Proposed Procurement
  • studied private sector expertise with the goal to identify potential innovative alternatives for a new system
  • continued our dialogue with unions on the way forward

This fall we will:

  • host employee user experience workshops
  • issue a request for proposals for a new HR and pay system

We are committed to working with employees, experts, unions and technology providers to get this right. We’re at a crucial step in designing a new service that ensures public servants are paid accurately and on time. No alternative is acceptable.

Have thoughts on what a next generation HR to pay system needs to be capable of, or suggestions on how you think it should work? I invite you to submit your ideas directly by email to the team.

Thank you.

Alex Benay

Alex Benay
Chief Information Officer, Government of Canada

Alex Benay currently serves as the Chief Information Officer of the Government of Canada. Prior to this appointment, Alex was the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation since July 2014.

From 2011 to 2014, he was Vice-President of Government Affairs and Business Development at OpenText. He has played a leadership role in Canada's digital industry, as well as in promoting the global shift to digital in organizations such as the G20, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Olympics. Before joining OpenText, Alex managed various teams and programs at the Canadian International Development Agency, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Natural Resources Canada, and Library and Archives Canada.

Add new comment

Rules of Engagement

We look forward to hearing from you. Your ideas and feedback are central to the development of both the Open Government portal and the Government of Canada’s approach to Open Government.

While comments are moderated, the portal will not censor any comments except in a few specific cases, listed below. Accounts acting contrary to these rules may be temporarily or permanently disabled.

Comments and Interaction

Our team will read comments and participate in discussions when appropriate. Your comments and contributions must be relevant and respectful.

Our team will not engage in partisan or political issues or respond to questions that violate these Terms and Conditions.

Our team reserves the right to remove comments and contributions, and to block users based on the following criteria:

The comments or contributions:

  • include personal, protected or classified information of the Government of Canada or infringes upon intellectual property or proprietary rights
  • are contrary to the principles of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Constitution Act, 1982
  • are racist, hateful, sexist, homophobic or defamatory, or contain or refer to any obscenity or pornography
  • are threatening, violent, intimidating or harassing
  • are contrary to any federal, provincial or territorial laws of Canada
  • constitute impersonation, advertising or spam
  • encourage or incite any criminal activity
  • are written in a language other than English or French
  • otherwise violate this notice

Our team cannot commit to replying to every message or comment, but we look forward to continuing the conversation whenever possible. Please note that responses will be provided in the same language that was used in the original comment.

Our team will reply to comments in the official language in which they are posted. If we determine the response is a question of general public interest, we will respond in both official languages.


Submitted by Larry Menard on August 29, 2018 - 12:18 PM

Integration with the financial system is essential and simplifying processes and rules will go a long way toward better use of self-serve tools. Unions must collaborate on the simplification of rules given that most originate in collective agreement language.

Submitted by Vernon von Fin… on August 30, 2018 - 12:17 PM

You are right and interoperability will drive how the new parts fit into our complex jungle of back-office systems!!! It will be crucial!

Submitted by Jennifer Hill on August 29, 2018 - 2:08 PM

The existing peoplesoft - pheonix world of maternity leave is extremely confusing. I have spent many hours on the phone, by email making sure I've completed the right forms, put in the right leave amounts and with 5 weeks left before my leave I still feel as if I have no control over whether this will be processed properly. There should be dedicated and knowledgeable people who deal with these life events and the process should be singular and as simple as possible. The number of forms I filled out and scanned over was silly. The fact that no one explains them to you or advises you on their impact is also not ideal. I'm all for a more digital environment, but well trained people and a dummy proof user experience need to be up their as priorities.

Submitted by Fred on September 11, 2018 - 2:21 AM

This comment is very much on the money - from time to time complex pay transactions arise. Employees need to be able to talk to someone with the wherewithal to actually help. There have been incremental improvements at the call centre, but it's not enough. We don't need to hear: "your issue may be escalated at some point in the future, depending on your story and some unknown factors at the Pay Centre, and once that is done at some indeterminate point in the future your pay file may be actioned". That's what we are hearing now.

Submitted by Hope on August 29, 2018 - 2:54 PM

1) Having a human being assigned to each employee is pivotal. While automating a modern digital HR service will usurp the need for frequent human to human interaction, it is critical that humans can be reached if absolutely necessary, and that those humans have the capacity (and necessary training) to respond to and do actions on behalf of the employee. 2) An accurate status of ongoing tickets or issues that is visible to employees is needed, and will cut down on the call volumes of public servants with pay issues. Changes to that status should trigger an email or text notification, so that employees don't have to spend time logging in to check every day. 3) Any solution should be created with a safety net back-up plan that can be activated should issues arise. 4) Issues of missing pay should *not* be triaged solely by monetary amount but should take into consideration the ratio of the missing amount to income. For example, $2000 missing off someone's pay who makes $125K *may not be as meaningful* as $500 off a student's pay who makes $30K a year. This is an equity issue that needs to be considered. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and best of luck with creating a new, workable system for us!

Submitted by Anonymous on August 30, 2018 - 8:10 PM

Yes! #2 especially. Can't tell you how many times my tickets would be classified as 'resolved', when in fact they were not. If we can order pizza and track when it's in the oven, on its way to us and delivered.. we should apply the same to support!

Submitted by Sheri Albers on August 29, 2018 - 5:26 PM

Conventional wisdom would have told us to not build Phoenix in the first place: "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." and "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." So now they want to try again? Perhaps the answer is not in procurement, but in collaboration. For example, the CRA has a pay system in SAP that has been working well for years. Other departments had their working solutions, whose was best? Why are we trying to re-invent the wheel? If a department needs a pay system, one possible solution would be for them to look for a partner department with a good system that can expand to meet their needs (similar to CRA and CBSA sharing IT resources). As departments who need better pay systems partner with departments with good, solid existing systems, over time, a central "winner" would emerge as the best model, and the rest of the departments can be brought on board as needs arise. The problem with Phoenix was not only that it was implemented poorly, but that it was forced upon departments that did not need to be fixed. Before you try to find a new solution, allow departments to roll back to systems that already work. The benchmark for a new system should be something better than the best old system, not just better than Phoenix. Sometimes you need to back up to move forward.

Submitted by Guy B on August 29, 2018 - 9:07 PM

One of the main problems with Phoenix was its implementation.They moved hundreds of thousands of pay files in two big waves, ending with tens of thousands of pay issues. Had they done it imcrementally starting with smaller departments they would have been able to detect problems early with a minimal number of issues to address before moving to another department. This is project management 101. Let's hope implementation of the future system will be smarter.

Submitted by Stephanie on August 30, 2018 - 12:17 PM

One idea, at least in the short term could be to contract out about half of the pay files to a private company like ADP and have the other half be processed internally. The city of Toronto did something similar with garbage collection. This way, all of our eggs aren’t in one basket so if there are issues then there is another side willing to take over, and it would encourage both sides to do the best work possible because of one side doesn’t do the job well, then the other side will get more work. This would be a great kind of accountability. (Would need conditions to state at what point the other side gets more work...)

Submitted by Chris on August 30, 2018 - 1:54 PM

Certain tasks in Phoenix take a long time to be processed - for example transfers between departments (Transfer In/transfer out). The outgoing HR advisor needs to do data entry but then it gets stuck in the pay centre for a long time - I have employees who arrived 18 months ago who are still with their old department in the system because the file is waiting at the pay centre. This creates a lot of admin burden and unintended issues: manual recovery of pay, can't delete surplus positions if the employee is not deployed out, employee is in the wrong department in PSPM etc. If the outgoing HR advisor enters the data, why can't it go automatically to the incoming HR advisor to do data entry and then the pay aspect is automated (that is the idea of HR2Pay). It seems like a minor issue, but it is a major irritant for managers and employees and there are probably a lot of these "simple" transactions clogging up the queue, leaving less time for high priority transactions (i.e. maternity leave) that may require compensation advisor interaction.
Date modified: