Canada's auditor general will conduct a performance audit of the controversial ArriveCAN app used by the federal government to learn the COVID vaccination status of Canadian travellers.
The Auditor General Karen Hogan's office could not provide details on the scope and timeline of the audit but contends it will take some time before they present the probe's findings to Parliament.
Auditor General spokesperson Vincent Frigon said because the scope and timeline have yet to be confirmed, he "cannot comment further at this time."
This comes after opposition MPs joined forces in November to pass a non-binding motion 174-149 to audit the $54 million ArriveCAN app, including investigating all payments and contracts associated with creating and maintaining the app.
The Conservative motion received backing from the NDP and Bloc Québécois, while the Liberals and Green Party voted against it.
Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre called ArriveCAN a "huge waste" and said it could've been developed for under $250,000 in a single weekend, according to Canadian tech companies who cloned the app between October 7 and October 10.
In a previous email, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said ArriveCAN cost $80,000. However, it required services that posed "indirect costs," such as technical support and ensuring the app met federal cybersecurity standards, raising the total price to $54 million.
While the motion was non-binding, Hogan's office said it "carries a significant amount of weight as we identify the work we will do."
Trudeau has since asked for the Clerk of the Privy Council to review the "highly illogical" ArriveCAN contracts and subcontracts tied to the two-person staffing firm tasked with its development and maintenance.
GCstrategies — the Ottawa-based company that received millions in federal commissions on IT projects — subcontracted its work on the ArriveCAN app to six other companies, including multinationals such as BDO and KPMG.
Constructing its software costs taxpayers $54 million, with GCstrategies typically billing the federal government between $1,000 to $1,500 per worker daily.
Trudeau faced questions on why the federal government couldn't hire these IT companies directly instead of paying millions in commissions to the two-person staffing company.
"That's exactly the question I asked of the public service," responded Trudeau. "This is a practice that seems highly illogical and inefficient."
"Of course, speed was the essence during the pandemic, and helping people quickly was the essence," he added. "But there are principles we should ensure are sound moving forward."
The federal government launched the expensive ArriveCAN app in April 2020 as an alleged pandemic management tool. They claimed it would streamline the border-crossing process by allowing travellers to upload quarantine details.
Though Ottawa made it optional at the onset, it eventually became a prerequisite for air and land travel on July 5, 2021, when the federal government required all travellers to disclose their COVID vaccination status.
Those who failed or refused to use ArriveCAN could have faced a maximum fine of $750,000 or be imprisoned for up to 6 months, or both.
Meanwhile, the Government Operations and Estimates Committee is in the midst of a separate study, requesting unredacted government documents related to the planning, contracting, and subcontracting of the application's development and launch.