Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Mythical Bird Update

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister Qualtrough,
When I was 22 years old, I got my second tattoo. I got it on my ankle, a discrete spot, since tattoos were still seen at the time as fringe (yes, I’m that old). I got it in honour of successfully adult-ing. I had a solid government job in my field, an apartment without a roommate, a cat and a closet full of business casual. I had shed my shy, cautious teenage self and had become confident (acting) and (seemingly) self-assured. While not necessarily a unique concept, I managed to find a different take on the classic Chinese character – a simple red line drawing symbolizing truth, beauty and long life. A phoenix. A fucking phoenix is permanently emblazoned on my body.
It could be worse. I'm looking at you, Ben Affleck.
I wrote an open letter to you, Prime Minister, on December 6, 2017. Following some high profile attention, Public Works was suddenly (after 20 months of silence) very interested in getting a hold of me. In fact my MPs office beat them to the punch in delivering an update. It was, of course, not news to me, as I had been living it. And it also failed to recognise the human behind the errors and the ‘acting assignment’ has been my full-time job for the last 8 years. The summary went a little like this:
Ms. MacDonald’s acting assignment was inputted late by HR, resulting in her not receiving pay at her acting salary for the period of April 1, 2016 to October 2, 2016.  This payment is still outstanding.
Ms. MacDonald commenced maternity leave October 3, 2016, and while her substantive pay was stopped on time, there was a delay in Ms. MacDonald receiving her maternity allowances. 
Ms. MacDonald received maternity allowances for the period of October 3, 2016 to March 22, 2017 on April 5, 2017, and she continued to receive maternity allowances throughout the remainder of her maternity leave.  Because her acting assignment was inputted late, she was paid at the incorrect rate.  Retro-active maternity allowance adjustment was issued on February 21, 2018.
Upon her return to work, her acting assignment was again inputted late by HR, resulting in Ms. MacDonald receiving pay at the incorrect salary for the period of October 3, 2017 to January 24, 2018.  This acting assignment has since been processed and payments were issued on February 7, 2018 and February 21, 2018 for this period.
The Pay Centre will process Ms. MacDonald’s acting for the period of April 1, 2016 to October 2, 2016.  Payment will be issued by April 18, 2018.
Did I have any questions? Oh, where to start. So I sent a few, and the answers came back:
Why do three separate provinces show up in the tax section? If I've paid taxes to BC (where I haven't resided since 2008), what does that mean for my home province of NS, and what does that mean for my taxes? Ditto for deductions for NWT (where I have never resided). Why does my pension adjustment on my T4 show NT? I have reviewed phoenix and it looks like when your HR has entered lines into peoplesoft the wrong province was selected a couple of times.  Your acting rows are correct and reflect NS.  I will get in contact with your employing department and have the necessary changes made to your substantive row.  

Regarding your T4, unfortunately we cannot adjust and correct tax this will be done by CRA once you file your taxes.   
Another question, why was my maternity leave adjustment was so highly taxed? Tax rates are pre-populated by phoenix, however, I reviewed your MAT leave adjustment, it was taxed at 42.40%. Lump sum payments are taxed at 30% plus the regular provincial rate of 12.29% for a total of 42.29%.  There is a difference of 0.11% this is most likely due to rounding as phoenix calculates everything to the sixth decimal. 
Oh, and that internal April 18, 2018 deadline, obviously broken:
As you are aware your scheduled payment date is April 18, 2018.  Unfortunately, due to the complexity of resolving your pay concern, the commitment date will not be met.   Please be assured that the pay issue that you have addressed is a top priority.  Again, I apologize for the delay that we have encountered and appreciate your understanding and patience as we continue to work towards resolving your pay situation.

I’m just too complicated. Yeah, thanks, I’ve heard that one before, but the thing is, it’s not me, it’s you.
Not to worry though. While there are a number of lenders with their hands out and a bunch of worrisome bills, relief ought to be in sight with the filing of our 2017 income tax, right? I mean, for the entirety of the year I either wasn’t paid or was being under paid, so a healthy return should help right the ship and get us back to floating. Except, of course not. Of course that had to be wrong as well. Somehow, despite the financial agony of the past two years, despite working for the same employer that collects my taxes, despite now having a child and paying childcare, somehow Phoenix found a way to make it worse. And now, not only did we learn that the CRA had decided to audit our 2016 taxes, but that we were somehow responsible for over $13,000 in back taxes. We have no way to pay this. We are deeply in the red. This ship has not been righted, it has been torpedoed and we are going down.
We recently received our annual bill for the storage of our extra embryos from the IVF process. Three potential tiny humans. Their viability was already lower than the groups of cells that became Sullivan, and the freeze/thaw process is also a challenge. Implantation has risks, and the potential health risks to me loom large after the OHS of last time. I’m also about to turn forty, further raising the risk of complication. Those issues aside, both Jeff and I are the elder of a sibling and we had both imagined our family being 4. But Phoenix. We cannot go through that again. We now know that we cannot afford the storage, let alone the medical procedure. And time is not on our side.
I am grateful for this little person every day.
We are mourning our second child. We are broken. How has this happened? How does it continue to happen? When will someone take responsibility? When will we get our life back?
I scream in frustration. I cry in anger. I shake with fear. An old friend asked why would you ever want to work for a government who has treated you this way.
I believe in what I do. It is the only place that I can do the work that I am doing. And that’s where you have so many of us. We could be paid more and treated better elsewhere, but this work can only be done here. But I’m not believing in much anymore.
Shanna MacDonald

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