Madam Speaker, from scandals to failed programs, spending Canadians' money is a favourite pastime for this costly coalition. In the lead-up to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Liberals had already added an additional $110 billion to Canada's debt. That alone should have raised the alarm for any reasonable members across the aisle, but obviously it did not.
Instead, the money printers kept rolling to the tune of half a trillion dollars of new debt during the last two years, over half of which was not even COVID-related spending. In the last five years, overall government spending has increased by 44% while the size of an already inflated bureaucracy has just kept growing.
The Liberals dragged out their measures longer than any of our other allies when it came to COVID restrictions, using political science instead of real science. Countries with lower vaccination rates reopened faster and they removed barriers to business and tourism. Those countries did not persecute their citizens for making personal choices. Meanwhile, in Canada, we remained restricted to much of the world as the Liberals continued spending on random testing, forcing Canadians into quarantine and keeping loved ones apart.
ArriveCAN is exhibit A of the government's failed drawn-out COVID policies. At $54 million, one would expect an app that could not only do what it was promised to do but that would prevent disruptions to people's lives by making it easier to travel. What taxpayers got instead was an app that failed at nearly every turn. ArriveCAN turned out to be arrive scam.
Because of one glitch, over 10,000 healthy, fully vaccinated people were forced into government-mandated quarantine. Those who did not comply received threatening emails, phone calls and even visits from law enforcement. Travellers entering Canada were even fined because of the app. Seniors were threatened with $5,000 fines if they did not have the app, even when they did not own a phone.
After over 70 updates, the app still failed and never lived up to the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars the Liberals forked over. This is money that, it turns out, cannot even be accounted for. CBSA originally said that ThinkOn received a $1.2-million contract related to ArriveCAN. That was news to the company, which said it does not provide the mobile QR code scanning and verification services that CBSA said it paid ThinkOn for, and the company never received payment from the Liberals.
Now CBSA is saying that Microsoft received the $1.2 million. While the government figures out where it was spending all this money, Canadian developers were proving how big of a waste of money arrive scam really was. It took the CEO of a Toronto technology company and his friends a weekend to clone the app and show how fast and cheap it would be to build. In all, it should have taken two days and cost $250,000 to build the junk the government paid $54 million to create.
This is a symptom of a more significant problem. It again shows Liberal misspending is costing Canadians. Since taking office, the Prime Minister has had misspend after ethics violation after scandal. All of this was at taxpayers' expense. From vacations on private islands to politically interfering in the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, resulting in the Prime Minister firing two strong women cabinet ministers, he has proven himself not to be trustworthy. It again showed when he gave the federal contract to the WE Charity to administer the almost billion-dollar Canada student summer grant program.
Liberal misspending also extends beyond arrive scam. My colleague from Calgary Nose Hill recently received a response to her Order Paper question, where we learned that the estimated cost to run the random testing at airports was at least $411 million. That was half-a-billion dollars spent on random testing in the year they were shutting it down. This spending was on top of the $150 million the Liberals gave to their old friends at SNC-Lavalin for field hospitals that were not even used. The government gave another $237 million to a former Liberal MP for ventilators that were not even used.
Even before the pandemic, the Liberals spent $12 million on new fridges for Loblaws while small businesses received higher carbon and payroll taxes. There is also the $35 billion the government spent on the Infrastructure Bank, a bank that has done nothing to help build infrastructure in Canada. Instead, this bank spent $5.7 million in short-term bonuses to 79 employees in the past five years.
There are so many other things that $35 billion could have been used for, such as addressing the housing supply shortage to prevent home prices from soaring, building energy projects to keep gas and home heating bills down this winter, and finally connecting rural Canadians to the Internet and stable cell service. Instead of showing fiscal restraint, the Prime Minister has spent and spent, and Canadians are the ones who have to pay the price.
The tourism industry, before the pandemic, was valued above $100 billion and now is down to $80 billion. After spending $54 million, we have clogged up airports and delivered a massive hit to one of Canada's largest industries, which has cost us jobs and businesses.
It is not just tourism. The inflationary spending of the government has meant higher prices, while failed policies like the carbon tax and cancelling energy projects mean more dollars chasing fewer goods. That is just inflation.
Our agriculture sector is hurting as farmers, ranchers and other food producers cannot afford to run their equipment, heat their barns or buy feed for their livestock. The energy sector continues to get squeezed by “leave it in the ground” policies and the tripling of the carbon tax.
What this means for Canadians is less money in their pockets and impossible choices between heating their homes or putting food on the table. Among Canadians, one in five are cutting back on meals or skipping them altogether. In one month alone, 1.5 million people visited a food bank in this country, and one third of them were children.
Home and rent prices are out of reach for too many Canadians and their families. Instead of addressing inflation, the government has forced the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates, making mortgages even more expensive. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister spent $24,000 in four nights on a hotel in London, the same amount that an average rent of one year costs here in Canada.
The situation is desperate for Canadians, who are doing what they can to save money however they can, yet they look at the government and see wasteful spending and scandals. It truly is more critical than ever for the government to respect taxpayer dollars and eliminate unnecessary spending, such as the arrive scam app.
I rise today to support this motion to have the Auditor General conduct a performance audit on ArriveCAN. It is time that Canadians get to see where the payments really went, who really got the contracts and sub-contracts, and whether, in the end, the Prime Minister was telling the truth.
The arrive scam app is a symptom of the larger problem. Canadians cannot afford any more of the costly coalition. They are out of money, out of patience, and done with this. Liberals need to stop the pain, stop the carbon tax, stop spending and stop raising taxes.