During a press conference in Hamilton on Thursday, Prime Minister Trudeau was asked point blank about reports that spending on the ArriveCan app was obscenely high.
“Mr. Prime Minister the ArriveCan app – this report today that the cost of the app was between 29 and 54 million dollars to the federal government – now these companies in Toronto say they could have done it for a million, and this is gross overspending … how do you defend that kind of overspending?” asked a reporter.
Trudeau started his response with his patented “Every step of the way” phrase before segueing into an entree-sized word salad.
Eventually, he said, “I can assure you that the current contract for ArriveCan was got at in a competitive process.”
But Sheetal Jaitly, founder and CEO of Toronto-based tech company TribalScale, says they weren’t aware of the opportunity to design the app.
“For this to happen and us not even to be consulted about it was wrong,” he told Alex Pierson on Global News 640.
The tech industry was riled after hearing that $54 million of taxpayers’ money went to build the app.
So Jaitly’s TribalScale had a friendly competition with Lazer Technologies, another Canadian tech company, to see which could re-create a replica of the ArriveCan app faster.
Both tech companies built a clone version of the app in about two days.
The revelation was bittersweet for Jaitly as he realized how much the government overspent.
“I can confidently say this project should have cost less than a million bucks.”
Reports of the companies that contracted to build the app are scarce. True North reports that Ottawa firm GCstrategies received $9 million. It’s a company with no physical office and less than five employees. However, subcontractors are reportedly not named for confidentiality reasons.
Conservative party leader Pierre Poilievre tweeted about the sham on Wednesday.
“Trudeau paid $54 million for an ArriveCan app that developers have since shown could be built in a weekend. Who got rich? Why did one company headquartered in someone’s house get $9 million? Conservatives will get to the truth.”