ArriveCAN audit exposes severe mismanagement under Trudeau Government

Canada’s Auditor General Karen Hogan provided a scathing critique of the federal government’s handling of the ArriveCAN app development, revealing a “glaring disregard” for fundamental management and contracting practices. 

ArriveCAN audit exposes severe mismanagement under Trudeau Government

During a committee meeting where she was presenting her audit report on the app, Hogan said even basic documentation was lacking, leading to her inability to account for the project’s cost.

The ArriveCan app, designed for travelers during the pandemic, sparked months of controversy and committee hearings after details of outlandish spending were revealed by The Globe and Mail last year. 

According to Hogan, the mishandling of the ArriveCAN app project represents one of the most glaring examples of mismanagement she has encountered.

“This audit shows a glaring disregard for basic management and contracting practices throughout ArriveCAN’s development and implementation,” she told committee members.

“By piecing together information available, we estimated that ArriveCAN cost approximately $59.5 million,” Hogan said.

Conservative MPs seized the opportunity to question Hogan about the implications of her findings, particularly focusing on whether Canadian taxpayers received value for money and the extent of the Trudeau government’s involvement in the project’s mismanagement. 

“Did Canadian taxpayers get value for money from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government on the $60 million ArriveCan app?” asked Conservative MP Michael Barrett, to which Hogan replied, “We concluded that the public service did not ensure that Canada received best value for money. I would tell you that we paid too much for this application.”

The auditor general’s testimony painted a picture of a project plagued by poor planning, oversight, and execution, with Hogan stating that COVID was no excuse. 

“An emergency does not mean that all the rules go out the window, and that departments and agencies are no longer required to document their decisions and keep complete and accurate records,” she said.

Gifts exchanged between contractors and government

Conservative MP Garnett Genuis expressed concerns about the cozy relationship between the Trudeau government and GC Strategies, the contractor for the ArriveCAN app.

“Your report reveals shocking details about cozy relationships…This company was actually involved in the development of the rules and requirements for making proposals,” Genius said. 

In response to questions about the lack of proper documentation for gifts and hospitality from contractors, Auditor General Hogan admitted, “I’m sorry I don’t have exact figures at my hands… but we did see that it was more than one contractor who invited individuals in the branch that developed ArriveCAN.” 

Genius asked Hogan how many public servants received gifts from GS Strategies contractors. “And also could you provide the committee with a list of names of those who offered and those who received these kinds of invitations?”

Hogan replied: “We’ll see what we can provide you.” 

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