April 14, 2024

Obligate Law

Professional Law Makers

ArriveCan investigation: Firm no longer eligible for gov’t contracts

3 min read
ArriveCan investigation: Firm no longer eligible for gov’t contracts


Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) confirms GC Strategies Inc., the firm that received the first ArriveCan contract, has been awarded 34 government contracts since 2015, worth a total of $59.8 million. Now, it’s no longer eligible for more.


In a statement to CTV News late Thursday, PSPC spokesperson Michèle LaRose said all of these contracts have either expired or have been suspended. However, the nearly $60-million figure does not include contracts awarded the small company by other government departments and agencies.


PSPC says ongoing reviews allowed the department to confirm there are a small number of “lower-value” contracts outside of PSPC’s contracting authority, the total of which is estimated to be around $50,000.


“PSPC is informing those departments of our concerns and actions so they may take appropriate action within their authorities,” said LaRose in the statement.


GC Strategies is also no longer eligible to participate in PSPC and Government of Canada tenders, according to the statement.


This revelation about the contracts from the federal government comes a day after LaPresse reported that since 2015, GC Strategies Inc. had been awarded 140 contracts by the Liberal government worth a total of $258 million.


The department told CTV News that it cannot confirm that figure.


Scrutiny on the company’s connections to the current government has heightened in recent days, after Auditor General Karen Hogan released a damning report about the government’s management and contracting practices related to the ArriveCan app.


Central to the report were red flags about a non-competitive process that saw an initial contract granted to GC Strategies as well as related alleged mismanagement and misconduct by border agency employees, that saw the cost of the app balloon to an estimated $60 million.


“I am deeply concerned by what this audit didn’t find,” Hogan testified before the House Public Accounts Committee earlier this week.


Hogan’s report also confirmed previous reports that matters related to “certain employees and contractors” had been referred to the RCMP, to examine potential criminality.


In light of the latest, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre wrote to the RCMP this week to request an expansion of its investigation.


In an email to CTV News, the RCMP confirmed “it is investigating a matter referred from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that is based on allegations brought to their attention by Botler AI,” a firm that according to The Globe and Mail did not work on ArriveCan but raised flags about related contracting practices.


The federal police force also said it was “aware” of the Auditor General’s performance audit.


“The RCMP is assessing the available information, including the Auditor General’s performance audit report and will take appropriate action,” said RCMP Sgt. Kim Chamberland in a statement.


All week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has faced pointed questions in the House of Commons about the app, with Poilievre demanding answers.


“WTF?” he asked, going on to clarify the acronym stood for, “Where’s The Funds?”


In response Trudeau agreed the Auditor General “highlighted some very concerning questions that need to be answered.”


“That is why we are expecting and supporting all relevant authorities to follow up on this irregular contracting and perhaps breaking of the rules,” added Trudeau.


With files from CTV News’ Senior Digital Parliamentary Reporter Rachel Aiello

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