Taxpayers will have spent $54 million on the controversial ArriveCan application by the end of the year, new estimates indicate.
According to The Globe and Mail, the figure is more than double the amount recently touted by the Liberal government.
Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) previously told the media it spent $19.7 million to develop the ArriveCan and $4.9 million to maintain it.
However, in a written answer to a question by a Conservative MP, the government said the Public Health Agency of Canada spent an additional $4.9 million to maintain and promote the app.
An unnamed CBSA senior official told The Globe another $25 million had been greenlit for the fiscal year. The government has already spent around half of that amount, and expects to spend the remainder by the end of the year.
In total, the numbers add up to more than $54 million.
The Globe also analyzed Trudeau government ArriveCan contracts and noted transparency concerns.
The outlet says many ArriveCan related contracts lack clarity, and that contracts can happen to involve work not related to ArriveCan, making it harder to track spending directly related to the app.
The Globe also noted that the CBSA provided conflicting answers.
The agency told the media this summer that five companies had been awarded ArriveCan related contracts – however recently submitted documents to Parliament showed 27 contracts and 23 different companies.
Ottawa-based firm GCstrategies received the most money out of ArriveCan contracts – being awarded three contracts containing a total of $9 million worth of ArriveCan work.
It should be noted that the firm holds less than five employees and does not have a physical office.
GCstrategies managing partner Kristian Firth told the Globe the firm has been fully virtual since 2020, and it relies strongly on subcontractors. Firth added the firm currently is working with 80 consultants on various contracts.
However, neither GC Strategies nor the federal government were able to disclose the identities of subcontractors hired to work on ArriveCan files, citing confidentiality reasons.
The Trudeau government introduced the ArriveCan back in Apr. 2020 amid a worldwide public health crisis.
However, the use of the app remained mandatory for people entering Canada long after allies had removed all pandemic related entry restrictions – with those not complying with the requirement being penalized.
The Trudeau government lifted the ArriveCan requirement on Oct. 1. However, travellers can still use the app to fill out their customs declarations in advance.