A senior cabinet minister is warning IBM that its reputation is at risk because of the troubled Phoenix pay system, and that it has a responsibility to help the government fix the program.

Treasury Board President Scott Brison made the pointed comments during an appearance at the Senate’s finance committee, where he was asked for an update on the payroll program.

“IBM, as a sophisticated global company, needs to recognize that we as the government of Canada are not just an important client … but there is reputational risk for IBM in not helping us fix this,” Brison said Thursday morning.

“IBM needs to be an active partner working closely with us. They have, as the vendor of this technology, a responsibility to help us fix this,” Brison added.

After the meeting, the minister downplayed the tone of his comments. When asked directly if IBM was not co-operating with the government, Brison said “we’re working with everyone, all hands on deck… and as the provider we are working with IBM of course.”

In a brief response to Brison’s comments, IBM spokesperson Carrie Bendsza told CBC News in an email that “IBM continues to work in close collaboration with the Crown on this project.”

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