MOOSE JAW, SASK – Public servants across the country may finally begin to breathe a little easier today after a local farmer discovered the source of a nagging software glitch in the federal government’s troubled Phoenix pay system.
Investigators from Environment Canada removed seven groundhogs and twenty-six Richardson’s ground squirrels that were nesting for the winter in a government complex between Regina and Moose Jaw that houses backup computer servers for Phoenix.
Alvin Chernowski, who farms twelve-hundred acres near Grand Coulee, uncovered the mystery when he dropped a combine axle into what he first believed was a sinkhole, while he was harvesting his barley crop.
“Turns out it was a groundhog hole,” he said. “But a big sucker, nearly four feet across. I didn’t see it because of the tall grain. They were using it to tunnel into the building. It went right under the Trans-Canada Highway. I knew it was serious when the guys in the hazmat suits turned up with cage traps.”
He said he had been aware of some unusual activity in the area during the early growing season, but hadn’t been unduly concerned.
“I didn’t pay much attention to it because I thought it might be related to crop circles,” he explained. “They show up in that field every year now and there isn’t much one can do about that so I’ve stopped worrying about it. And I’ve got a crop circle rider on the insurance.”
At least one government worker believes that Chernowski should be awarded a medal for his discovery.
“To some of us, he’s a hero,” said Jake Peterson, a software engineer seconded from Shared Services Canada who works at the government’s pay centre in Miramichi, New Brunswick. “I mean, I haven’t been paid myself for six months. I had to borrow money from my sister to make my car payment last week.”
Peterson also provided an explanation as to why a computer server for the Miramichi pay centre was located more than three thousand kilometers away, in Saskatchewan.
“Well, it’s on account of global warming,” he said. “They were concerned about possible flooding from the Bay here. When she rises up up, things can get ugly. So they put the backup unit far enough away so it wouldn’t get wet.”
The Deputy Minister currently in charge of the Phoenix pay system could not be reached for comment. Source: FNT Staff