'Arrive-scam' contractor under more fire over connection to federal COVID Alert app

Records show GC Strategies was paid $1.4 million for work on the now-retired COVID Alert app, and now a House of Commons committee is demanding more documents relating to the two-person company's activities.

'Arrive-scam' contractor under more fire over connection to federal COVID Alert app
The Canadian Press / Adrian Wyld
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Members of Parliament are further probing federal contracts awarded to GC Strategies, the two person company at the heart of the ArriveCAN scandal.

Legislators are demanding more records relating to the company's work on another COVID-19 era app rolled out by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government, the now-retired COVID Alert app.

Records reveal GC Strategies was paid $1.4 million in December 2020 for “software development professional services” on the app, Blacklock's Reporter notes.

“This was another app developed during the pandemic,” said Bloc Québécois MP Julie Vignola, who wondered how GC Strategies, which bills itself a consulting company, could “get in on these contracts.”

 “Who was behind all of this?” Vignola asked the government operations committee. A motion put forward by Vignola was passed unanimously by the committee, calling on the Department of Works and Department of Health to: “produce all contracts, communication, memoranda, calls for tender and proposal submissions with GC Strategies in the context of the Covid Alert app.”

“This committee has asked for production of papers in the hundreds of thousands of pages,” complained Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk. “The cost is tremendous. I mean, hundreds of thousands of documents.”

Conservatives on committee, meanwhile, mocked the Liberals' unwillingness to investigate in contrast to the exuberant funds doled out to GC Strategies.

“[W]e see Liberals are so concerned about resources when it comes to the small matter of producing documents for a parliamentary committee but seem completely unconcerned about the use of resources involved in this scandal in the first place,” charged Garnett Genuis.

“Sixty million dollars spent on an app is no problem according to them, but trying to actually get the documents that would allow a parliamentary committee to investigate it is suddenly a resource issue.”

The House of Commons has been investigating GC Strategies and massive development costs associated with the ArriveCAN app. The two-man firm was awarded at least $19.1 million for development of the app, before subcontracting it out to suppliers with a 30% commission.

From the time of its launch on April 1, 2021, to its retirement on May 31, 2022, the COVID Alert app contributed to identifying “at least 2,446 confirmed cases of COVID-19,” according to government statistics. 

Since the pandemic was declared, Canada has reported nearly 5,000,000 cases of COVID-19. Federal officials have until March 15 to return documents relating to the app to the committee.

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