The Central Bank Staff Association (CEBSA) on Friday, held a one day thanksgiving service to give thanks to God for carrying them through the Ebola crisis.During a program held at the banking hall of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) in Monrovia, the chairman for publicity, Julius A. Kekula, said the thanksgiving was intended to give God the honor for taking almost all of them through successfully during the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD).“As a family, we also remember our beloved and dear workmate, Sister Sarah Smith, who died during the heat of the Ebola crisis. Sister Sarah was a strong, hardworking staff member of CBL,” Mr. Kekula said.He noted that this was the best time to give thanks to God and to recognize the late Sister Smith.He said the late Sister Smith was the only person that the CBL lost to the deadly Ebola virus. Mr. Kerkula expressed his deepest condolences to others who also lost loved ones, family members and friends to the EVD.“We have also decided to give a purse to the family of the late Smith as a way of remembering our own staff who was very diligent in service delivery. We lost someone that was willing to give all her time to the CBL, especially working in the banking department,” he added.All the staff of the CBL as well as some family members who attended the thanksgiving service prayed that God would continue to bless the CBL family. “The CBL continues to ensure that its staff are active in delivering the required services to the people of Liberia,” noted Mr. Kekula.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
OTTAWA – The backlog of outstanding pay problems faced by federal civil servants has now reached a staggering 520,000, the minister responsible for the problem-plagued Phoenix pay system has revealed in a letter of apology to government employees.That number is expected to grow further, Public Services and Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough said in the letter being circulated to federal civil servants over the next couple of days, which was provided to The Canadian Press.“I am truly sorry that more than half of public servants continue to experience some form of pay issue,” the minister’s letter states. “Too many of you have been waiting too long for your pay.”“Your stories of hardship caused by the backlog of financial transactions keep me awake at night.”The outstanding transactions include non-financial requests from employees, such as changes to banking or home address information.But it also includes 265,000 cases in which government workers have been underpaid, overpaid, or not paid at all and have waited beyond what the government considers an acceptable period of time for their issues to be resolved.In the letter, Qualtrough repeated what she and her predecessor in the portfolio have been saying for months — that the situation is “unacceptable.”And she emphasized that anyone working in government who is experiencing financial hardship as a result of pay problems can request an emergency salary advance.One major factor that has prevented the government from reducing the pay issue backlog was the recent need to retroactively adjust the paycheques of government workers after new collective agreements were ratified.So far, roughly 184,000 government employees have seen their paycheques adjusted to the new contracts, the minister said.But another 20,000 collective agreement payments have yet to be processed and the number is expected to grow in coming weeks as more renewed contracts come into force.Qualtrough said dealing with the pay system backlog will continue to be a slow process as the government seeks a “permanent solution” to the Phoenix debacle.But her letter made no mention of a call this week by one of the country’s biggest civil service unions to build an in-house pay system and to scrap the Phoenix system altogether.The Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada said earlier this week that IT professionals already working within government can build and thoroughly test a new pay system within a year.The government has so far earmarked $400 million to fix the system and to deal with the existing pay backlog, partly by hiring more pay administrators at centres in Quebec and New Brunswick. But Qualtrough said in an interview aired last weekend that she could not guarantee the amount wouldn’t reach $1 billion.The government hasn’t hired nearly enough people, quickly enough, to deal with the massive backlog of pay cases, the Public Service Alliance of Canada said Thursday.“The government needs to step up its hiring process and expand the compensation capacity both in the pay centres and in departments,” said PSAC national president Robyn Benson.Initiated by the previous Conservative government in 2009, the Phoenix system was meant to streamline the payroll of public servants across dozens of departments and agencies, and save more than $70 million annually.In a joint statement issued Thursday, Qualtrough and Treasury Board President Scott Brison again accused the Conservatives of saddling the government with a “botched” system.“They rushed the design and implementation, did not train staff, all while firing 700 experienced pay advisers who were needed to make sure public servants were paid on time,” said the statement.The Conservatives have denied responsibility for the debacle, saying it was the Liberals, elected in 2015, who ultimately failed to heed warnings from civil service unions that the system wasn’t ready before fully launching it in April 2016.A report from an auditor general’s review of the Phoenix pay system problems is expected to be made public next week.— Follow @tpedwell on Twitter
TORONTO – Toronto politicians are set to decide on measures that would redesign part of a major thoroughfare to better serve pedestrians and cyclists, a vote that comes as the city grapples with a spike in pedestrian deaths.City staff have recommended councillors approve a proposal to widen sidewalks on a 2.7-kilometre section of Yonge Street in a northern part of the city.A staff report said the road has inconsistent sidewalk widths, lacks pedestrian crossings or medians, and doesn’t have dedicated “cycling facilities.”It also recommended adding bike lanes to the road, but Mayor John Tory said he supports an alternative measure that would see the bike lanes added to a parallel street — something the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee has also supported.The staff report had further recommended reducing lanes of traffic on the stretch of road from six to four, though the public works committee and Tory support an option that leaves all six lanes intact.The staff report suggested the changes be implemented as part of a complete overhaul of that stretch of road, which hasn’t been upgraded since 1975.City council, which is meeting Monday through Wednesday, was set to vote on the proposed measures as Toronto police statistics show 11 pedestrians died this year by March 19, compared to seven at the same time the previous year.Cherise Burda, director of Ryerson University’s City Building Institute, said adopting the proposed measures is the right move for the city.“If you narrow a road and you put a number of different users on the road, you’re going to improve the safety because you’re making a street more of a shared opportunity and more of a complete street,” she said. “People are looking, people are slowing down, there’s more going on on the street.”Burda added that the measures would be a “once-in-a-generation opportunity” to change what happens at street-level on that stretch of road.Dozens of activists who support the proposed changes to Yonge Street laid down outside Toronto City Hall on Monday evening in a “die-in” to protest traffic deaths in the city.“I’m a bicyclist and a driver and a pedestrian and a transit user and I’ve had near accidents … where I’ve felt my life is in danger,” said Barbara Leiterman, one of the protesters outside city hall. “It’s important that children and elders and everyone feel safe using our streets.”Kasia Briegmann-Samson, a spokeswoman for Friends and Families for Safe Streets, which organized the die-in, said she’s disappointed the city hasn’t taken more action.“Look how hard we have to fight to get one safe, complete street being built. … The city should be falling over itself implementing complete and safe streets across the city,” she said. “The fact that it’s even being debated is appalling.”— With files from Peter GoffinNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version incorrectly attributed information on proposed redesign measures to a city committee.