Madam Speaker, it is always an honour to speak on behalf of the residents of my riding of Davenport. It will be my pleasure to share my time with the hon. member for Mississauga—Lakeshore.
I have some prepared remarks, but first I want to provide a bit of context for those who might be listening. I want to go into a few details about the motion that is before us today. In terms of context, we are going to be talking about the ArriveCAN app. For members of the public who might have forgotten, the ArriveCAN app was a key tool in protecting Canadians during the pandemic as we went travelling.
As we have come out of the pandemic, sometimes I think we have forgotten how intense a time it was and how historic a time it was. Literally, the world shut down on March 15, 2020. Professor Adam Tooze, Columbia University, wrote a book called Shutdown. He said that the first half of 2020 was historic; 95% of the world's economies suffered a simultaneous contraction. He said that had never happened before. Three billion adults were furloughed from their jobs or tried to work from home, and that had also never happened before. The sum of lost earnings just in the first months of the pandemic was $10 trillion U.S., more than a tenth of the global GDP.
The global economy was shut down, and the Canadian government was trying to grapple with what COVID-19 was, how we were going to keep Canadians safe, how we were going to ensure that people would be able to pay their bills, how we could protect Canadians, and how we could help our small and large businesses, our societies and our cities. That is what we were consumed with at the time.
People will recall that we were moving quickly and making lots of decisions, because we had to move quickly. The regular processes we had in place were not followed all of the time. A lot of the decisions around the ArriveCAN app happened during this time. It is important for us to remember that context.
The motion before us is an opposition day motion. Basically, it is asking for a lot of documentation around the ArriveCAN app to be tabled here in the House of Commons, in terms of the decision-making. There is also a portion about recouping all of the funds that were paid to develop the ArriveCAN app.
I will not be supporting the motion. The reason for that is that there are already a number of independent investigations under way right now, and we have to allow time for those investigations to be completed. They are being done by outstanding, independent organizations. Also, we have already heard from the Auditor General, and there are already a number of steps being taken. I believe there are some recommendations from the procurement ombud. I will go through a couple of those items right now.
CBSA has committed to implementing every recommendation set out by the Auditor General's report, as well as by the similar report by the procurement ombud. In addition to all of these independent reports, CBSA is also conducting an internal audit to assess the procurement practices. Where specific allegations of misconduct have been made, CBSA has launched an investigation that is still in process and has referred all allegations to the RCMP. A lot of work is under way. The Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates is also looking into it. It is right for all of these investigations to be under way, particularly when there are concerns about anything that we are doing from a procurement perspective.
I am now going to move into my prepared remarks on government procurement.
The federal government is committed to ensuring that the procurement of goods and services is done in a fair, open and transparent manner, and, crucially, in accordance with policies, regulations, guidelines, trade agreements and procedures. Legislation, including the Financial Administration Act, along with Treasury Board policies, establishes clear requirements for the administration of government, including for contracting activities.
The Financial Administration Act sets out the requirements needed when the government is making public disbursements, which include contracts. For example, section 32 requires that funds be available before entering into a contract. Section 33 deals with ensuring that payments are lawful charges against the appropriation and that the appropriation is not exceeded.
The Treasury Board Secretariat, through the office of the comptroller general, provides government-wide direction to support the implementation of mandatory Treasury Board policies related to financial management and the management of assets and acquired services. The Treasury Board sets the administrative policies for federal procurement, guided by the principles of fairness, openness, transparency, competition, and integrity, all while ensuring best value.
For example, its directive on the management of procurement lays out the expectations and requirements that departments and agencies must follow so their procurements are managed in a way that supports the delivery of programs and services to Canadians. It is also managed in a way that will demonstrate the best value and in a way that is consistent with the Government of Canada's socio-economic and environmental objectives. This framework supports the management of procurement so it is fair, open and transparent.
There are also clearly defined responsibilities for government departments when conducting procurements, including those for services. First and foremost, government departments and agencies are expected to maintain the integrity of the procurement process and protect government spending from fraud and unethical business practices. This is done through internal processes and controls and through dedicated procurement professionals and effective mechanisms for the disclosure of any wrongdoing.
Second, government departments and agencies are responsible for clearly defining the intended outcomes of a procurement, including operational requirements, expected benefits and how those outcomes align with the government's strategic direction and total costs over the life cycle.
The Government of Canada has clear rules and controls in place to ensure contracting is done in an ethical manner and upholds the values and ethics of the public service. In the public service, like elsewhere in society, when governing rules are broken, there are consequences and corrective measures are taken. Just as getting best value is built into the contracting procedures, so is accountability for the spending of public money. For instance, all proposals are required to be reviewed through a conflict of interest lens and evaluators are required to recuse themselves for real or possible conflicts.
There is also the code of conduct for procurement, which sets out clear expectations for vendors and their subcontractors in the areas of human rights, labour standards, conflict of interest and environmental responsibility. That means the government is committed to upholding and promoting the high standards and values Canadians expect, and the same is expected from vendors and their subcontractors.
I would also remind the House that the government's integrity regime serves to hold suppliers accountable for misconduct. The integrity regime helps foster ethical business practices, ensures due process and upholds the public trust. Public trust is gained through transparency. That is why government contracts over $10,000 are publicly disclosed on the open government portal, so Canadians are better able to hold the government and public sector officials accountable. The name of the company, the value of the contract and a description of the work are all publicly available.
In conclusion, I want to assure everyone in the House, and indeed across Canada, that the government takes all concerns regarding contracting and consultants seriously. The Government of Canada has a strong framework of rules to direct how procurements need to be conducted, and it is constantly looking at strengthening and clarifying those rules. It also offers guidance and training to employees to ensure they know, understand and obey these rules.
I talked about trust earlier, and that is certainly the foundation of any public institution. It is crucial for Canadians to trust their public institutions. It is also vital for them to trust the employees who support those institutions. Furthermore, it is essential they trust that any procurement conducted on their behalf is done ethically, fairly, openly and transparently. Upholding that trust is vital to any public institution in this country.
The federal government is committed to ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly in a way that provides value for Canadians, and it will continue to advance the priorities of Canadians.