Kent prison guard and Chilliwack resident Doug Holloway is one of thousands of federal employees caught up in the Phoenix payroll fiasco.

Kent prison guard and Chilliwack resident Doug Holloway is one of thousands of federal employees caught up in the Phoenix payroll fiasco.

Chilliwack prison guard caught up in federal payroll fiasco

Kent Institution employee among thousands affected by Phoenix

Working as a prison guard at a maximum security penitentiary can be a stressful job.

Having a wife with mental health issues and children with learning difficulties can also be stressful.

And being away from that wife and kids is no picnic either.

So imagine on top of all that not getting your paycheque thanks to the federal government’s Phoenix payroll fiasco.

“It was payday and I got nothing at all,” Holloway told the Times last week.

Three paycheques ago the Kent Institution guard received about one quarter of what he should have received. Then on Sept. 7 he received $128, essentially none of his regular pay, just the shift differential he receives for working evenings and weekends.

Then Sept. 21 it was nothing at all.

“Like a lot of people we live paycheque to paycheque and I support six people with one income,” he said. “My credit card is at the max, maybe Monday I might get an advance . . . I can’t even pay for the kids medical issues.”

By Monday he did get emergency pay through the prison, but it’s not the full amount of his paycheque and the delays make day-to-day living challenging.

Holloway is living downtown Chilliwack right now in a small one-bedroom apartment. His wife and kids are back in Grande Cache, Alta., where he worked prior to his transfer to Kent three months ago.

The Phoenix computerized pay system, commissioned by the previous Conservative government, was implemented in February by the Liberal government. It involved replacing some 2,700 payroll specialists across the country with the automated system, run by 500 people in Miramichi, N.B.

Since then, more than 80,000 federal employees, from MPs to office workers, have complained of not being paid what they’re owed—most commonly not receiving enough in benefits, overtime or pay differentials for temporary promotions. In the worst cases, some people have not been paid at all.

Holloway works as an armed guard at Kent, a maximum-security prison in Agassiz that houses some of Canada’s most hardened criminals, including serial killer Robert Pickton.

“When officers are doing their rounds in the actual living units, when the inmates are out, I’m up on the gun walk with a C8 rifle watching them,” Holloway said.

On other days, Holloway could be one of the guards among the prisoners.

“You’re dealing with guys that wouldn’t even bat an eye to hurt you, or stab you, or shank you . . . you don’t need distractions.”

Derek Chin, the Pacific region president of the Union of Canadian Corrections Officers, said the new payroll system first came to corrections in February as a pilot project at seven institutions across Canada, including B.C.’s medium-security Mission Institution. Pay stubs were plagued with irregularities.

“In Mission they only had about 200 officers,” Chin said, adding that despite the problems the system was expanded in May to cover all of the federal government’s corrections facilities, including the nine B.C. federal institutions and their 1,200 staff.

“The pilot project wasn’t nearly as bad as when they started rolling it out,” Chin said. “It’s just a mess all around.”

The union is currently involved in 40 cases in B.C. that are similar to Holloway’s. Seven of those cases are among Kent’s 300 officers.

Chin said the guards are stuck in the same backlog facing thousands of other public servants.

“We don’t really know what the other federal departments are doing. We don’t really know where we are in the queue,” Chin said, arguing that the guards are a special case.

In the summer, the ministry of Public Services and Procurement Canada set Oct. 31 as its deadline to eliminate the backlog. But that was before Holloway’s paycheque mistakes so he figures he might be last in line for a fix.

“A lot of officers go through PTSD, a lot of dangerous situations. The only gratifying thing is pretty much your paycheque. It’s a thankless job we have . . . all we want to do is get paid.”

Chin said Holloway’s specific problem likely arose through his transfer from Alberta to B.C.

“Somewhere in Miramichi, his file got lost,” Chin said.

– with files from Postmedia

Just Posted

The theme for this year’s Fraser Valley Regional Library Summer Reading Club is “Crack the Case” and Katie Burns, community librarian at the Chilliwack Library, is encouraging people of all ages to sign up. She is seen here at the Chilliwack Library on Friday, June 18, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crack the case, read, win prizes with FVRL Summer Reading Club

‘Immerse yourself in other worlds and have a bit of fun while you do it,’ says Chilliwack librarian

A police pursuit involving Abbotsford Police ended in Langley Saturday night, June 20. (Black Press Media file)
Abbotsford Police pursuit ends in Langley with guns drawn

One person arrested, witnesses say an officer may have been hurt in collision with suspect vehicle

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Woman’s 100-km birthday marathon from Chilliwack to Abbotsford will benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

(Black Press Media files)
Burnaby RCMP look for witnesses in hit-and-run that left motorcyclist dead

Investigators believe that the suspect vehicle rear-ended the motorcycle before fleeing the scene

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

(file)
Pedestrian hit by police vehicle in Langley

Injuries described as serious, requiring surgery

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read