Financial bonuses were given out to federal health executives who worked on the ArriveCAN app to the tune of more than $340,000, according to new data from the government.

The bonuses were for “performance” on the failed app, and also included “at-risk” pay.

Eight Public Health Agency of Canada executives were assigned to work on the ArriveCAN app from March to September 2022, government data reveal. The information came in response to an order paper question from Conservative MP Jeremy Patzer and was first reported by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

“The government executives involved with ArriveCAN should be getting pink slips, not bonuses,” said CTF federal director Franco Terrazzano. “This is the ultimate example of failing government executives being rewarded with taxpayer-funded bonuses.”

Of the eight executives, five received an “at-risk” bonus and four received a “performance bonus” for the 2020-21 year. 

The next year, six of the eight executives received an “at-risk” bonus and two received a “performance bonus.”

“It is not possible to discern what part of the bonus … would have been attributed to (work on) the ArriveCAN application,” read the documents. 

The combined bonuses amounted to $342,929 for eight people between the 2020-22 fiscal years for an app that was riddled with problems and cost overruns.

The app was rife with technical glitches and faced a massive backlash over privacy concerns and its purpose of forcing Canadians into quarantine, including senior citizens who did not know how to use the app. 

It also contributed to the Canadian tourism industry losing billions of dollars. 

“It doesn’t matter how good any of my other work is, if I blew a project so badly that it cost my company $54 million and became a national scandal, there’s no way I’d be getting a bonus,” said Terrazzano.

There were additional employees from the Canada Border Services Agency assigned to work on the app, however the records released did not provide information regarding potential bonuses they may have received as well.  

Canadians were initially told that the app would cost $80,000 in 2020, however it ultimately came with a $54 million price tag, leading to a parliamentary committee to investigate how this scandal came to be. 

The CTF testified before the committee last October.

“Taxpayers are out of $54 million because of the ArriveCAN app,” Terrazzano told the committee. “Which bureaucrat is out of a job? Which bureaucrat is even out of a bonus?”

The app was so easy to make, that a Toronto-bass app developer, Lazer Technologies, recreated it over a period of two days and then even posted the code it used to clone it online. 

“The true cost to implement this shouldn’t have been this high — it should have been more efficient,” wrote Lazer Technologies co-founder Zain Manji in a blog post.

While the tech company acknowledged that it’s easier to recreate an app compared to building one from scratch, it still said that the cost of ArriveCan shouldn’t have exceeded $250,000. 

The $54 million dollar price tag was more likely tied to the three-quarters of subcontractors involved, who were paid without actually working on the project.

Among those subcontractors included was the Ottawa-based two-person staffing firm GC Strategies, who received $11 million from taxpayers for IT work it never did. 

Canada’s Auditor General will publish a report on the ArriveCAN app by Feb. 12, 2024.