Teachers go temporarily unpaid because of 'serious problem' with government payroll

Trent Langdon is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teacher's Association. He says the use of emergency supply teachers waters down education in the province, and shows the system is in an unhealthy place. (Darryl Murphy/CBC - image credit)
Trent Langdon is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teacher's Association. He says the use of emergency supply teachers waters down education in the province, and shows the system is in an unhealthy place. (Darryl Murphy/CBC - image credit)
Trent Langdon is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teacher's Association. He says the use of emergency supply teachers waters down education in the province, and shows the system is in an unhealthy place.
Trent Langdon is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teacher's Association. He says the use of emergency supply teachers waters down education in the province, and shows the system is in an unhealthy place.

Trent Langdon, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teacher's Association, says it is not good enough that teachers are not being paid on time. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

An error within the Newfoundland and Labrador finance department lead to the province's teachers waking up to a missing paycheque on Thursday — the latest in a series of payroll-related mishaps, according to the president of the teachers' union.

Trent Langdon, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association, said he was alerted to the problem early Thursday morning after a flood of messages and phone calls from teachers.

They told him payment stubs had gone out the night before, but the money had not actually been deposited into their accounts.

"We're talking 8,500 people here right across the province, and it was a circumstance where we had people unsure as to really how long [the delay] would be," Langdon told CBC Radio's On The Go.

"[There's] a lot of people that really rely on that money coming in in the moment."

Langdon said the department was not aware of the issue until told by the NLTA but acted quickly to resolve the issue.

He was told most teachers should have received their pay by 3 p.m. NT Thursday, and was assured everyone would be paid by midnight.

"We have people with mortgage payments, car payments. Will they default on their payments, and as a result will there be charges applied?" Langdon said of the association's immediate concerns. "We've approached government and said, 'Look, if there are any fees, we want those fees paid.' We've been given commitments that that is the case."

Confederation Building in St. John's.
Confederation Building in St. John's.

The provincial government said Thursday that a 'serious problem' caused pay to be deposited into teachers' accounts on time. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

CBC asked for an interview with a provincial government representative, but instead received an emailed statement.

"There was a serious problem last evening with the distribution of teachers' payroll that is being immediately rectified today," said a statement from Treasury Board president Siobhan Coady.

"Last evening the file for teachers' payroll did not load to banks and therefore payments were not made overnight. We apologize; this was an unusual circumstance and an investigation is underway to ensure this does not ever happen again."

Langdon said he appreciated the prompt response, as well as apologies he received from Premier Andrew Furey and other members of government.

However, he noted members of the NLTA have assured him this kind of problem has not been an isolated incident.

He said he's known of problems with the payroll system since at least 2019, when payroll responsibilities were moved out of the Department of Education.

"We've been working with minister Coady and her team up there trying to figure out ways to solve individual problems, but on a daily basis we're hearing from individuals that have either didn't get their pay, or it wasn't the right amount, or they been overpaid," he said.

"[It's] to the point that we almost have a full-time person at our office dealing solely with payroll issues. And in this day and age, it should not be the case."

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