Almost eight weeks since the federal election, 2,000 poll workers still haven’t been paid, Elections Canada says.
Those 2,000 people will be paid by this coming Wednesday, Dec. 16, Elections Canada spokesperson Diane Benson said in an email.
“These were exceptions where we had to do something manually or needed to confirm information with returning officers or sometimes the workers before we could process the payment.”
But many are tired of waiting.
Allan Clipperton-Boyer isn’t new to election work. He’s worked every provincial and federal election since 2006.
He claims this one was a mess.
As central poll supervisor for a station in Toronto’s Don Valley North, he says he saw poll workers on their phones repeatedly, some leaving their stations and stacks of ballots unattended.
At the end of the night, he says, he ended up staying until 1 a.m. because no one had been taught how to properly, meticulously put all the paperwork in the correct envelopes.
“The training was haphazard,” he said.
“It was very ‘Coles Notes’ style. It wasn’t detailed enough.”
Right now, he says, Elections Canada owes him about $522, for a 17-hour election day and a couple of training sessions.
This past election, the longest federal campaign in more than a century and more than twice the length of the 2011 campaign, put an added strain on Elections Canada.
It meant hiring an additional 15,000 workers for a total of 250,000 and total employee cost of $153 million, up from $92 million four years earlier.
The electoral hiring spree was enough to boost Canada’s national jobs numbers over that time.
When Global News wrote about payment issues more than a month ago, Elections Canada said virtually everyone would be paid within six weeks of Election Day, with some potentially being paid within eight weeks.
Now, Elections Canada wants anyone who has yet to be paid to call its payment inquiry line, “in case there has been a data entry problem or we are missing some of the information we need to pay them,” Benson wrote.
But many people say they’ve tried that already.
Clipperton-Boyer got so fed up he went to a labour lawyer.
“I’ve called them maybe 20 times,” says Sandra McNeill-Angelopoulos, who says she was trained to be a deputy returning officer but ended up working as a poll clerk.
She worked advance polls over Thanksgiving Weekend, amid record-setting voter turnout.
She’s starting to think she and her co-workers won’t see paycheques, period. “It’s just not going to happen,” she said.
“I was in the training room with all of these people. They’re counting on this money for Christmas and they’re not going to get it.”