ArriveCan’s $54 Million Cost Faces Call for Federal Audit

The Conservative Party plans to call for an audit of the Liberal government’s estimated budget of a whopping $54 million for the ArriveCAN app — reports CTV News.

Ottawa built the now-optional ArriveCAN app so that travellers could submit their vaccination status and other mandatory health information online before crossing into Canadian borders.

However, the Liberals’ spending on the ArriveCAN app is reportedly on track to exceed $54 million this fiscal year — a revelation that outraged Opposition parties (and Canadian tech companies).

Conservative, Bloc Québécois, and NDP Members of Parliament previously managed to launch a committee investigation into ArriveCAN’s budget and contracts awarded as part of the spending. Now, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre has tabled a motion to audit the Liberals’ spending on the app.

Through the motion, the Official Opposition wants the House to “call on the Auditor General of Canada to conduct a performance audit, including the payments, contracts and sub-contracts for all aspects of the ArriveCan app, and to prioritize this investigation.”

A vote on the Conservatives’ motion is scheduled for Wednesday, November 2. However, the motion is non-binding — the final decision on whether or not the government’s ArriveCAN spending warrants an audit will remain with Auditor General Karen Hogan.

“When $54 million goes out the door and government officials can’t get their story straight about where it went, the least we can do is have an audit,” Poilievre said about the motion on Tuesday.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)’s accounting of ArriveCAN costs was rife with errors. For starters, the agency listed a $1.2 million contract with a cloud computing services company that never worked on the app.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told MPs that ArriveCAN was “imperative” and that the government’s budget for the app includes the cost of both development and maintenance. He added that Ottawa followed the proper procurement processes when giving out contracts, all of which it is now reviewing.

“At every critical stage we followed, with great rigour, the policies that were put in place when it came to procurement, to make sure that we could get value for taxpayer money,” Mendicino said.

Poilievre is going to need backing from more than just his own party for his motion to pass. He has a chance, though, given that other opposition parties are eager to put the Liberals through the wringer on ArriveCAN as well.

“I have a riding with six border crossings in it and I have numerous, numerous complaints about how it failed them, how it sent people into quarantine that shouldn’t have been sent into quarantine, and now we hear that it’s cost a ridiculous amount of money,” said NDP MP Richard Cannings.

Currently, travellers can choose to use the ArriveCAN app to submit customs and immigration declarations in advance.

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