MONTREAL – Less than a week after Quebec’s former deputy premier was arrested, more allegations of corruption and collusion have surfaced, this time targeting the government’s awarding of public computer and I.T. contracts to private companies.
“It’s about $100,000 that is wasted in these contracts every hour, so it’s about a billion each year that we’re losing in the computer contracts that are mismanaged or that are given to friends,” said Luc Lefebvre, co-founder of Crypto Quebec.
“We need a public inquiry to understand is it corruption, incompetence or something else?” said Lefebvre, who has launched a petition calling on the provincial government to hold a public inquiry.
Eighteen organizations including Quebec’s public sector unions have joined the call for action.
“In Quebec, we give more than 50 per cent of the money that goes into I.T. in subcontracting in private companies so the door and the gates are open,” said Richard Perron, president of the SPGQ, who argues that bringing back higher-paying, high-tech jobs to the public service sector would help put a stop to questionable practices.
Quebec’s auditor general found clear signs of corruption in a recent report on the awarding of I.T. contracts.
Despite a long list of recommendations and arrests by the province’s anti-corruption squad, taxpayers continue to lose an estimated $1 billion a year due to mismanaged computer contracts.
“We see mostly three companies are gathering most of the contracts, about 80 per cent of all the contracts, which means billions of dollars for them are being given to three companies, which was pretty much the same thing in the construction industry,” Lefebvre said.
Most other provinces have stricter anti-corruption clauses when it comes to the awarding of government contracts.
“Enough is enough,” said Carl Vallée, Quebec director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
“We pay the most taxes certainly and it’s not clear that we’re getting a good return on our investment and that’s a good example – the I.T. contracts – it seems we’re paying more for less.”