Employers have a lot of obligations to their employees, both legal and moral.  Things like creating a positive, respectful work environment.  Giving people the physical and intellectual tools they need to get their jobs done.  Giving people opportunities to contribute and excel.  Things like that.

Oh yeah.  And paying your employees.  Yeah.  That one’s important too.

As an employer, we might not be perfect in how we treat our employees, and we might slip from time-to-time in how well we engage them.  But the one thing we can’t ever mess with is people’s money.  That is a sacred, non-negotiable trust.  Every employer understands this.

I remember vividly the small chain of toy stores I owned in the late 80’s.  We were inexorably sinking into insolvency.  I couldn’t pay the suppliers on time, couldn’t keep up with the rent.  But the one thing we never missed – even when it meant using our personal resources to do it – was a single payment to our employees.   It simply wasn’t an option, and no employer ever should think otherwise.

So What’s Going On With The Canadian Federal Government?

For over six months now, employees of the Canadian Federal Government have been doing battle with its new Phoenix Payroll system.  Tens of thousands have missed pay – some for exceedingly long periods of time –  and had to fight with the bureaucracy to finally get it.   Sure, the government took some action – and hired a bunch of people to fix things manually – but it still wasn’t enough.  Last April, Apparently unfazed, the government expanded the flawed system to include  67 more government departments.


To date, more than 80,000 employees have been affected, and the Minister has recently admitted that things will still likely not be fixed by October.

Yikes again.

“Here’s The Deal.  I Don’t Get Paid Until You Do…”

In the businesses I have owned, my employees got paid first.  Period.  If I had to sit on my own paycheques to make sure that happened – sometimes for months – so be it.  This is the practice of any organization that embraces integrity toward its workforce.

If the Public Works Minister, Deputy Ministers, Treasury Board President – heck – even the Prime Minister, wanted to demonstrate their integrity in a meaningful way, they would do the same.  “Here’s the deal,” they should all say, “I don’t get paid until you do.”  That would be a meaningful gesture.  And, speaking from personal experience, nothing motivates you more to get something fixed than having a few wolves at your own door.




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