Follow-Up Letter to Deputy Heads on the Pay System

Dear Colleagues,

I want to thank you for your prompt response to my recent letter regarding the pay system. I have read all the responses, and I would like to share with you some observations and best practices of which I took note.

  • Most of you indicated that you have increased human resource capacity within your own organization to help address challenges with the pay system, and in some cases, provided additional human resources support to Public Services and Procurement Canada’s (PSPC) pay centre and satellite offices.
  • Most of you have implemented expedited emergency salary advance and priority payment processes to meet the immediate needs of their employees, although it is not clear that all employees are aware of the services available to them.
  • Many of you have established pay liaison and/or interdisciplinary units which include human resources, finance and compensation staff to help identify, track, escalate and resolve pay problems efficiently.
  • Some of you have implemented pre-verification processes, by human resources and finance units, to closely monitor higher-risk transactions to prevent problems before they occur.

Employees in every organization have been impacted by pay related challenges since the transformation of pay administration initiative was implemented. If your organization is not pursuing the best practices noted below I ask that you implement them now. I believe that actions in these areas will have a positive impact on the health of the pay system.

1. Mandatory training for managers and employees

Beyond the mandatory training that some organizations have implemented of their own doing, I am pleased that the Secretary of the Treasury Board wrote to you on November 27, 2017, to inform you that a new suite of pay system training for managers and employees began on December 4, 2017, and that this training will be mandatory. Completion rates will be tracked and reported by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS), and this information will be built into your bi-weekly departmental dashboard. I am confident that the Secretary can count on your support to promptly implement this important initiative.

2. Personal information is current

Managers must remind employees to ensure that their home and mailing addresses are up to date. This information is used to produce tax slips and determining province of residence for calculating tax deductions. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to remind your employees to review and update their personal information in both the human resources system and the pay system. This is something that should be done on a regular basis. You may wish to run a blitz between now and December 31, 2017, in the lead-up to this year’s income tax season.

3. Rigorous internal communications

Most of you have implemented enhanced internal communications to your employees, including regular team meetings, town halls and outreach directly to employees that have been impacted. In January 2018, Directors General of Communications and heads of Human Resources from across Government will be meeting to identify ways in which internal communications related to pay can be further strengthened. It is important that all organizations attend this important meeting, and share their experiences so that we can do a better job of meeting our employees’ information needs. I look forward to hearing the results of these meetings and how your organization has contributed to their success. I have asked the communications community to propose more effective links across departmental websites and intranet sites.

4. Establishment of service standards for the approval of human resources and pay transactions

By June 2018, service standards and performance measures for the approval of human resources transactions that lead to pay actions will be implemented in every organization. This work is being led by TBS, in collaboration with PSPC. In the meantime, I recommend that you ensure that all managers in your organization make a weekly habit of reviewing and approving, as appropriate, human resources and pay transactions (sections 33 and 34).

Further analysis of departments’ actions is underway to identify those actions that are having the greatest positive impact on the administration and processing of pay. This information will be shared with you by PSPC and TBS as soon as it is available. PSPC has published information on measures that the Government of Canada has taken to stabilize the pay system since it was implemented in February 2016. This information will be updated regularly, and can be found on the department’s web page

I want to reiterate that the pay system, as well as the well-being of our employees is a collective responsibility. I am concerned by the number of media stories which suggest that some employees are still confused about where to turn for help. I expect that you will ensure that within your organization all employees know where they can go for help, that their concerns are being heard, and that they will be addressed without delay. A corporate commitment will be included in your 2018-2019 Performance Management Agreement regarding your contribution to stabilizing the pay system, and I will be asking you to report on progress when you provide your input to the  2017-18 performance review cycle.

Sincerely yours,


Michael Wernick
Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to the Cabinet

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