A small cluster of companies were given lucrative contracts to censor Canadians' access to government records and emails, documents obtained by Conservative MP Kelly McCauley through an inquiry of ministry show.
According to Blacklock's Reporter, which broke the news Friday morning:
One private censor was paid $15,961 for ten weeks’ work. Another was paid $72,844 for four months’ work. A third contractor was paid $199,078 to process Department of Justice files totaling 96,971 pages, the equivalent of $2 a page.
Contracts signed with individual firms included $15.8 million with Altis Human Resources Inc., $3 million with Maxsys Staffing & Consulting, $2.3 million to FCM Professionals Inc., $2.2 million to Excel Human Resources and $1 million to Michael Wager Consulting Inc.
According to the federal government, part of the backlog is related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the contractors were hired to reduce a growing glut of access requests which remain outstanding.
The Treasury Board has acknowledged the backlog, noting that, though requests for documents have fallen, the production of documents by federal agencies within the statutory timeframe has stalled:
The number of ATI requests received during the 2020 to 2021 fiscal year decreased 6.6 percent from the 2019 to 2020 fiscal year. However, in the 2020 to 2021 fiscal year, the number of ATI requests that were outstanding from the previous fiscal year increased by 28.5 percent.