Troubling questions surface about Ottawa's ArriveCan app

ArriveCan app scandal

The Canadian government's mismanagement and spending of taxpayer dollars on the ArriveCan app has raised serious questions and concerns.

The controversy centres around a contract awarded to a small IT firm of two people based in Ottawa, GC Strategies.

It’s been uncovered GC Strategies received at least $20 million to work on the app, with doubts it did any actual work on the app. GC Strategies was also involved in writing the rules for the government contract they ended up getting.

The app, which was first planned to cost $80,000, ended up costing taxpayers at least $60 million with the total amount unknown. This is 750 times the original price. An audit from the independent Auditor General of Canada on this, criticized the federal government’s poor management on the ArriveCan app.

The Auditor General's report showed while the cost of the app kept rising, the government couldn't determine the exact total cost or where all the money went due to the lack of clear financial records.

Two federal officials suspended over ArriveCan, testified there was an active and coordinated coverup of the paper trail and records. One unbelievable example alleges the government’s chief technology officer deleted tens of thousands of emails related to the app during his employment at the Canada Border Services Agency.
Government officials apparently received Amazon-sponsored ArriveCan bags with Amazon receiving $8 million on the ArriveCan project. In addition, federal government officials were invited to whiskey tastings and other luxurious treats from contractors hired to do work on the app.

Canada's procurement watchdog revealed 76% of the subcontractors involved in the ArriveCan app did not perform any work on the app.

Canada’s information watchdog is now investigating the ArriveCan app.
The RCMP is also looking into claims of corruption related to the contracts for the app and for what government officials called “sufficient suspicion” of criminal wrongdoing and a broad coverup.

The owners of GC Strategies have not cooperated with the investigation and ignored two legal summons to appear before the ethics committee. That refusal prompted Conservative MPs to take strong actions using the full force of Parliament’s constitutional powers and authority by getting a motion passed forcing the owners of GC Strategies to appear at committee within 21 days or face arrest by the Sergeant-at-Arms, the top security official of the House of Commons.

That was done despite of government MPs attempting to delay the investigation along the way through days of filibustering.

In situations like this, where there is a lack of clear accountability, Canadians naturally start to lose faith in the federal government's competence and intentions. It becomes hard for the public to trust their tax dollars are being spent wisely.

The federal government's role includes managing public resources responsibly and ensuring projects are completed efficiently and effectively. Canadians expect the federal government to use their tax money wisely, responsibly, with integrity, accountability and transparency.

Conservative MPs will continue to press to get to the bottom of this issue, as well as on other government expenditures, particularly with the use of external contractors.

If you need assistance with federal programs or have any thoughts to share, feel free to reach out, at 250-470-5075 or at [email protected].

Tracy Gray is the Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Tracy Gray, Conservative MP for Kelowna-Lake Country, is her party's critic for Employment, Future Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

She is a member of the national caucus committee’s credit union caucus, wine caucus, and aviation caucus.

Gray, who has won the RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award, worked for 27 years in the B.C. beverage industry.

She founded and owned Discover Wines VQA Wine Stores, which included the No. 1 wine store in B.C. for 13 years. She has been involved in small businesses in different sectors — financing, importing, oil and gas services and a technology start-up — and is among the “100 New Woman Pioneers in B.C."

Gray was a Kelowna city councillor for the 2014 term, sat on the Passenger Transportation Board from 2010-2012 and was elected to the board of Prospera Credit Union for 10 years.

In addition, she served on the boards of the Okanagan Film Commission, Clubhouse Childcare Society, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, Okanagan Regional Library and was chairwoman of the Okanagan Basin Water Board.

She volunteers extensively in the community and welcomes connecting with residents.

She can be reached at 250-470-5075, and [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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