The contentious ArriveCan app that was brought in to track citizens during the pandemic has become the subject of controversy once again, following an investigation revealing that three-quarters of the contractors who received money to build the $54-million dollar app didn’t actually have any involvement in its creation.
The revelation came in a report by the federal government’s procurement ombudsman.
“In roughly 76% of applicable contracts, resources proposed in the winning bid did not perform any work on the contract,” the report found.
The finding was condemned by Conservative members of Parliament Kelly Block and Pierre Paul-Hus.
“A damning watchdog report has revealed that federal officials in the Trudeau government rigged the ArriveCan contract so it would end up with the well-connected, two-person consulting firm, GC Strategies,” reads a joint statement from the two released Monday.
“In total, these two individuals did not work on the app, yet received $11 million dollars from taxpayers. Multiple investigations into ArriveCan have revealed millions in taxpayer dollars sent to connected insiders and consultants,” the statement continued.
Canadians were initially told that the ArriveCan app would cost $80,000 to implement, however that number quickly ballooned to costing over $54 million, a bill that was laid at the feet of the taxpayer, which the Conservatives took aim at in their statement.
“Experts have estimated that ArriveCan could’ve been built in a weekend for $200,000. But instead, the Trudeau government decided to waste $54 million in taxpayer dollars on this unnecessary and broken app. Unfortunately for Canadians, these recent allegations of abuse are starting to make the extreme $54 million price tag make sense,” reads the statement from Block and Paul-Hus.
Canadians were also billed an additional $7.5 million for a Service Canada call centre, $5.2 million in data management fees, $4.9 million in “indirect costs” and another $4.6 million for cloud hosting.
The app was rife with technical glitches and faced a massive backlash over privacy concerns and its purpose of forcing Canadians into quarantine, including senior citizens who did not know how to use the app.
It also contributed to the Canadian tourism industry losing billions of dollars.
Government officials were suspended without pay due to their inappropriate relationships with contractors involved in the app after the news became public.
The scandal included an “ArriveCan Whisky Tasting” event hosted by GC Strategies, attended by government officials to celebrate the app.
“Since this scandal came to light, whistleblowers have been silenced and government officials have been suspended without pay for telling the truth at Committee. Now, as the allegation of corruption grows more severe, the RCMP has decided to investigate the contracts for potential criminality,” reads the Conservative statement.