Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s extremely concerned about reports that a senior government official lied about the controversial and ultra-expensive ArriveCAN app.
Trudeau was questioned about the issue in the House of Commons on 08NOV and said authorities are taking the issue “very seriously.”
According to the Globe and Mail, Cameron MacDonald, an assistant deputy minister at Health Canada, told MPs on the government operations committee earlier this week that he was threatened by Minh Doan, the current chief technology officer in Ottawa. MacDonald said the incident took place in October of 2022 in a phone call over what officials should tell members of Parliament about who selected two-person IT staffing firm GCStrategies to build the app.
The ArriveCAN app, which was the responsibility of the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), ended up costing taxpayers $54 million.
At the time of the phone call, Doan was the Canada Border Services Agency’s vice-president and chief information officer. MacDonald had been a director-general at the agency during the early days of the ArriveCan app and Doan was his former superior.
The Globe reports that Doan told MPs last month that he “was not personally involved in that decision” to hire GCStrategies.
MacDonald contradicted Doan’s comments earlier this week.
“It was a lie that was told to this committee. Everyone knows it,” MacDonald said.
“Obviously, the reports coming out are extremely concerning,” Trudeau said in response to opposition questions in the House of Commons. “And I know that the respective authorities will be taking this extremely seriously.
“We expect our professional public servants to always conduct themselves with utmost integrity. And I’m sure that that will continue to happen.”
Launched in APR 2020 as part of federal efforts to curb the spread of the virus, ArriveCAN was heavily promoted by the government as a time-saving tool for travellers entering and leaving Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Critics have said it could have been designed for very little money. But the cost somehow ballooned to $54 million.
Trudeau earlier this year said the ArriveCAN app building process seemed to be “highly illogical and inefficient.”