What began with the ArriveCan app being floated as an $80,000 project ballooned to a bill of over $54 million for taxpayers.
The glitch-plagued application, which until recently was mandatory for any travellers entering Canada, is now facing scrutiny in the House of Commons.
According to the Globe and Mail, the House of Commons government operations committee released a summary of contracts in connection with the app.
The breakdown shows that the application required over 70 updates costing taxpayers $8.8 million following the initial $80,000 development fee.
Canadians were also billed $7.5 million for a Service Canada call-centre, $5.2 million in data management fees, $4.9 million towards “indirect costs” and an additional $4.6 million for cloud hosting.
Conservatives have pushed the committee to demand the application’s full costs from the federal government.
Canadians can expect two more meetings investigating ArriveCan with witnesses being called from the federal government and one company contracted by the government, GCstrategies.
Some critics pointed to the fact that the company only employs a handful of employees and instead relies on dozens of subcontractors as a cause for concern.
GCstrategies and the federal government have claimed that information about subcontractors is confidential.
“As with any project, many elements had to come together to do this. The $54M we expect to have spent by March 31, 2023, was not just budgeted and spent on the creation and launch of the app itself, which costed $80K to launch in April 2020, but also on all the necessary work to operate, maintain and upgrade the app over the last two years,” Canadian Border Services Agency spokesperson Sandra Bourdreau told the Globe and Mail.
As of Sept. 30, ArriveCan became voluntary for travellers following months of controversy and calls from border communities to shut down the requirement.
“It’s been hugely impactful and devastating,” said Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati earlier this month.Some estimates place the lost income in the Canadian tourism industry as a result of ArriveCan well into the billions.