‘Significant Changes’ Needed After ArriveCan App Controversy: Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared the need for “significant changes” in public sector procurement and contracting, after the ongoing revelations of the ArriveCan app scandal.

“This is an unacceptable situation and there needs to be changes on this. Government needs to make sure that everyone from the political level to the public service level are responsible, transparent stewards of the public money,” Trudeau said on Wednesday, reported the National Post.

The federal government is “rethinking” public service contracting and procurement, especially after the damning auditor general report on the ArriveCan app, which says estimated costs are at $60 million. The final tally is unknown as the paper trail is missing.

“What we’ve seen in terms of the procurement process that’s ongoing within government: there needs to be significant changes,” said the Prime Minister. “We will be making changes.”

Trudeau was responding to a National Post report that uncovered how three employees from the auditor general’s office earned money from undisclosed government contracts, leading to two firings and ongoing police investigations.

Auditor General Karen Hogan’s recent report showed a “glaring disregard” for basic procurement principles. She described the ArriveCan app situation as the worst instance of government bookkeeping she had encountered in her auditing career.

Trudeau said the new revelations show that there are “unacceptable practices” within the public service. Speaking in French, he said, “That’s why we launched investigations into the matter and we expect there to be profound changes in the way the government and the public service take care of procurement.”

David Yeo, a federal public servant whose company Dalian received a nearly $8-million contract for the ArriveCan app, is under scrutiny. Yeo has been suspended, and his hiring was clarified by Dalian as occurring after the project was completed. But the fact remains a federal employee was making money on the side with his company nabbing contracts.

Earlier this week, Kristian Firth, from GC Strategies, the company behind the ArriveCan app, was called a “pathological liar” after refusing to answer questions during a committee investigating the matter. GC Strategies, a two-person team working from home, had accumulated $107.7 million in government contracts before being suspended.

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