Trudeau cabinet shuffle puts Delta MP Carla Qualtrough in charge of public services and procurement

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      A legally blind rookie parliamentarian from the Lower Mainland is now overseeing one of the Trudeau government's hottest political potatoes.

      Delta MP Carla Qualtrough was named minister of public services and procurement in today's federal cabinet shuffle.

      This makes her the overseer of the Phoenix pay system, which has been mired in problems.

      The former minister, Judy Foote, quit cabinet and Qualtrough was moved into her position after serving as the minister of sport and persons with disabilities.

      Because of technical troubles, hundreds of public servants were not paid for months after the system was unveiled in February.

      Today, the Toronto Star reported that the backlog of pay transactions "that went beyond normal processing times" rose by 9,000 in July to reach 237,000.

      The centralized Phoenix system was approved by the former Conservative government using an IBM program. According to the Liberal government, it's going to cost up to $400 million to bring it up to speed.

      Problems with Phoenix have gone beyond civil servants not receiving paycheques.

      This summer, CBC News reported that personnel records, including social insurance numbers of some 300,000 federal employees, were made available to 70,000 of them. Foote reportedly turned this over to the privacy commissioner.

      Meanwhile under Qualtrough's oversight, the Ministry of Sport and Persons With Disabilities was named as a respondent in a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal filed by several Indigenous residents of Burns Lake.

      The document was submitted earlier this year after Qualtrough had stated that their allegations about former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong had been addressed in court. 

      "This is incorrect," the complainants noted in the CHRT filing. "Our allegations have never been heard in court. Thus, instead of responding to our claim on its merits, the Ministry 'serviced' it by responding with incorrect information." 

      The Indigenous complainants want Furlong removed as chair of Own the Podium. According to its website, it "prioritizes and determines investment strategies for National Sport Organizations in an effort to deliver more Olympic and Paralympic medals for Canada".

      The new minister for sport and persons with disabilities is Kent Hehr who, like Qualtrough, is a lawyer.

      Hehr was formerly the minister of veterans affairs and associate minister of national defence.

      His replacement is former CTV broadcaster Seamus O'Regan.

      Jane Philpott is another cabinet member shuffled, moving from health to Indigenous services. Philpott had previously been in charge of the federal response to a drug-overdose crisis that led to more than 1,000 B.C. deaths in the past 12 months.

      As the minister, she dropped the requirement for prescriptions for naloxone. The ministry has also approved more than 15 supervised-injection facilities across Canada.

      Ginette Petitpas Taylor has become the new health minister.

      The name of Carolyn Bennett's ministry has been changed to Crown-Indigenous relations and northern affairs. Prior to today, she was the minister of Indigenous and northern affairs.

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