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Commemorative loonie marking progress for LGBTQ2 people unveiled in Toronto

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TORONTO — The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a commemorative loonie Tuesday to mark what it called a key milestone for lesbian, gay, transgender, queer and two-spirited people, with the government saying the coin symbolized progress w…


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  • TORONTO — The Royal Canadian Mint unveiled a commemorative loonie Tuesday to mark what it called a key milestone for lesbian, gay, transgender, queer and two-spirited people, with the government saying the coin symbolized progress while highlighting the work that still needs to be done to advance equality.

    Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau was amongst a number of dignitaries who gathered in Toronto to unveil the new one-dollar coin that pays tribute to Parliament’s passing of legislation that “initiated the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada” in 1969.

    The coin, which is now in circulation, combines the words “Equality-Egalite” with the work of Vancouver-based artist Joe Average.

    “For too long, people didn’t listen. They didn’t extend compassion or empathy or understanding,” Morneau said. “Because of that, years ago, people made it a crime to love in Canada. We made being yourself a punishable offence.”

    Morneau also acknowledged the views of those who’ve said the coin’s theme suggests the work to achieve equality is complete.

    “They recognize, as we should all recognize, that we are not at the end of this path,” he said. “We have much more to do.” 

    Some historians and advocates attending the coin’s unveiling said the new loonie mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved and largely as a result of the federal government’s actions.

    York University historian Tom Hooper, who is part of the group, said LGTBTQ2 people faced continued criminalization over the decades that followed the 1969 legislative changes.

    “Decriminalization is actually a myth,” he said. “No laws were repelled in 1969. I think that’s a common misconception … Instead, they added a reform. They allowed us to commit these crimes provided we did so under strict circumstances.”

    He said discrimination against LGBTQ people persists today, noting as examples that trans and queer people of colour still face issues with policing and people with HIV remain subject to criminalization.

    The mint “could have consulted people who have knowledge of this history but they didn’t,” Hooper said, adding he hopes the agency will do so in the future.

    He acknowledged no campaign can compete with roughly three million coins but said the project is at least fuelling a public conversation about LGBTQ2 history.

    “As a historian, I’m hoping to inform as many people as I can about our history. So in some ways the coin is opening up that opportunity,” he said.

    Rev. Brent Hawkes, a pastor and gay rights activist who spoke at the coin unveiling, said while the legal changes in 1969 were not perfect, they are worthy of celebration.

    “When you have laws hanging over your head that say when you love someone very, very much and you practice consensual sex with that other adult person you could be thrown in jail, that is significant,” he said. 

    “In 1969, the government passed a law to end that piece of the terror … And while it’s not perfect, we should not diminish the significance of that moment.”

    Mint president Marie Lemay said coins made by the agency end up in the pockets and purses of Canadians across the country and contribute to ongoing discussions about the country’s identity.

    The new coin unveiled today is “inspirational”, she said.

    “It’s our hope that this coin will spark conversation,” she said. “I see this morning it already has and spurred reflection on 50 years of progress, while acknowledging … that the journey towards full equality for Canadians of all genders, identities, and sexual orientations was hard fought and is not yet over.”

    Shawn Jeffords, The Canadian Press



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    National

    Unions increasingly at odds over replacing troubled Phoenix pay system

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    OTTAWA — Government officials say the Trudeau government will be presented with options for replacing the troubled Phoenix civil service pay system within the next few weeks. 
    And a spokesman for the department overseeing the projec…


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  • OTTAWA — Government officials say the Trudeau government will be presented with options for replacing the troubled Phoenix civil service pay system within the next few weeks. 

    And a spokesman for the department overseeing the project says those options will likely include multiple pilot projects.

    The plan could pit at least two of the three potential bidders on the projects against each other in a competition to see which system works better, either independently or in tandem with one another.

    But the proposal is laying bare divisions among the unions representing the roughly 300,000 federal employees who have been living under the Phoenix pay cloud for more than three years.

    One of those unions, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, says the move is wrongheaded and could result in another bungled pay system.

    The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents about 60,000 of those employees and has been working closely with the government to find a new pay solution, doesn’t share PSAC’s concerns.

     

    The Canadian Press


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    Unions increasingly at odds over replacing troubled Phoenix pay system

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    OTTAWA — The federal team charged with finding a replacement for the government’s troubled Phoenix pay system will present the Liberals with options within weeks that are expected to include “multiple pilot projects,” government official…


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  • OTTAWA — The federal team charged with finding a replacement for the government’s troubled Phoenix pay system will present the Liberals with options within weeks that are expected to include “multiple pilot projects,” government officials say.

    The plan could pit at least two of the three potential bidders on the projects against each other in a competition to see which system works better, either independently or in tandem with one another.

    “In the coming weeks, the next-generation team will present options to the government for next steps, which will likely include multiple pilot projects to test possible solutions beginning later this year,” Treasury Board spokesman Farees Nathoo told The Canadian Press in an email.

    The proposal is laying bare divisions among the unions representing the roughly 300,000 federal employees who have been living under the Phoenix pay cloud for more than three years.

    One of those unions, the Public Service Alliance of Canada, says the move is wrongheaded and could result in another bungled pay system.

    Testing separate pay systems through individual government departments, or in groups of departments, could produce problems for federal employees similar to those being experienced under the current, flawed system, warns PSAC national president Chris Aylward.

    “That is very concerning because they have no clue about the way forward,” Aylward said.

    When issues began to surface shortly after the IBM-built Phoenix pay system was launched in 2016, the government initially, in part, blamed the problems on segregated, antiquated departmental human resources systems that were incapable of properly communicating with each other and the Phoenix system, he noted.

    “It concerns me if they say, ‘We don’t know how many providers we are going to use, we may have to use more than one,'” said Aylward.

    “It sounds like we’re starting Phoenix all over again…. They need a system that works. One pay system that works for all 300,000 employees that currently get paid out of Phoenix.”

    The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, which represents about 60,000 of those employees and has been working closely with the government to find a new pay solution, doesn’t share PSAC’s concerns.

    “I think that, so long as those are compatible systems and they are connected through some sort of internal cloud, then there shouldn’t be a problem between systems,” said union president Debi Daviau.

    “But at this point we’re just trying to determine what is going to be the best system.”

    Daviau suggested a pilot project at the Canada Revenue Agency, for example, could see about 50,000 people properly paid within a year, as opposed to implementing an entirely new software product, which could take several years.

    PSAC, which represents the vast majority of federal workers, recently rejected an agreement supported by 13 other unions that will see federal employees who’ve been impacted by the failures of Phoenix provided an extra five days of paid leave over four years.

    It has also walked away from contract talks with Treasury Board affecting more than 100,000 workers, turning down proposed pay increases amounting to 1.5 per cent annually.

    The government last week invited “qualified respondents” to submit proposals to enter a third stage for developing a new HR and payroll system to replace Phoenix, after narrowing the field of potential bidders to three companies: Ceridian, SAP and Workday.

    Bob Conlin, the public services lead in Canada for Germany-based SAP, suggested the government should tread carefully if it ultimately decides to contract more than one system provider and test their programs in different departments.

    SAP already provides human resources systems for the Canada Revenue Agency and the Customs and Border Services Agency.

    Those departments would benefit more from combining HR and payroll services under an existing service provider, said Conlin.

    “If they were to extend (HR) with payroll, it would not be a Herculean leap for them,” he said in an interview.

    “They would benefit in a big way from the opportunity to upgrade to modern technology.”

    But Conlin cautioned that CRA, CBSA and the Department of National Defence, in particular, must be treated carefully.

    “Those are some of the clients that absolutely have to get done right,” he said. “They are also some of the more complex civil service pay environments.”

    On Thursday, the Parliamentary Budget Office told the House of Commons the government could expect to pay about $57 million dollars to buy, test and implement a new pay system. The price tag did not include annual operating costs estimated to reach almost $106 million.

    The PBO also estimated it will cost taxpayers $2.6 billion to stabilize the existing pay system until a new one is fully adopted.

    The former Conservative government had estimated Phoenix would save $70 million annually.

     

    Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press


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