Phoenixed: The Podcast
Inside Canada’s payroll disaster


* indicates required

A new investigative podcast from the Global Payroll Association and Storythings dives deep into the Canadian government’s botched payroll transformation project — a $3 billion problem that still hasn’t been resolved.
View More
Canada set out to modernize its government payroll system in 2011, a $310 million project that would save $70 million a year via automation and consolidation. But when the Phoenix Pay system was rushed to launch in 2016, civil servants were paid incorrectly — or not at all. Eight years later the costs have reached more than $3 billion.

When something goes wrong with payroll, you can’t just stop and fix it — you have to keep it running. This new podcast from the Global Payroll Association and Storythings investigates how Canada flubbed its payroll transformation, how it’s fixing it with the next-gen solution, and how it’s trying to make amends with its public servants. Subscribe now wherever you get your podcasts to be notified when the first episode goes live in April 2024.
Glen McGregor, host: Nobody wants to take responsibility for a major scandal in the Canadian government. Tens of thousands of people have been affected. Workers have lost their savings, jobs, and even their homes.
And what caused all of this? A new payroll system.

Jennifer Carr: “I was not paid for three months, you know, and everywhere I turned and looked, you know, trying to get people to figure out what was happening, nobody had a clue.

”Blair Winger: “... and it's like this is all my money out the window.

”Chris Aylward: “Marriages were lost because of this. There is a doctor from Gatineau on record, he said, Well, his patient, she took her life because of the Phoenix pay system.

”In Canada, the Phoenix Pay System is infamous.

The initiative to upgrade and consolidate the government’s payroll system was supposed to be a $310 million project that would eventually save $70 million a year.

Its botched rollout became national news. As government workers were underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all, politicians fought over who was responsible.

Andrew Scheer: “When will the Prime minister take responsibility for his decision and stop trying to blame other people?

”Justin Trudeau: “The problem was that they had fired 700 people in order to book the savings.

”Eight years after its launch, it’s still not fixed. And the price tag for the Phoenix Pay project has grown to over $4 billion.

Blair Winger: “I guess what's most frustrating with this is I think the government would probably step in, if any other employer was not paying their people correctly, especially year after year after year after year.

”Jim Bagnal: “It's just astonishing. there just doesn't seem to be a reckoning for anybody.”

My name is Glen McGregor. I’ve been a political reporter in Ottawa for more than 20 years.

In the new podcast Phoenixed, I’m looking into how this payroll transformation went so wrong — and why it’s still not sorted out.

Phoenixed: Inside Canada’s payroll disaster is a podcast from the Global Payroll Association and Storythings.

Subscribe now to catch our first episode when it comes out in April 2024.