(Quebec) Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital Éric Caire has admitted that the execution of the digital transition at the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) is “a fiasco”, but maintains that the “seers were at the green” for this project in the fall and that he had no reason to stop it.
“It’s true, it was a fiasco. He’s right, it was a fiasco. […] Could we have prepared better? Could we have communicated better? Could citizens have been better informed? […] On the execution, it was a fiasco, “said Mr. Caire Thursday following a heated exchange with several Liberal MPs. He added that “the deployment was catastrophic, but the SAAQclic application works well”.
Elected Liberals Marwah Rizqy, Michelle Setlakwe and André Fortin in turn mocked Mr. Caire, who says he only acted as an adviser to the SAAQ, a state-owned company, and that he was not not responsible for its choice to have closed its services for almost a month to modify its IT platform.
In opposition, Mr. Caire was a fierce critic of the Quebec government’s computer failures and regularly called for more transparency. François Legault himself compared him to a “sheriff”. But the “sheriff” has become a mere “counsellor”, they said.
They alternately referred to Mr. Caire as a “non-departmentally responsible adviser to La Peltrie”, a “modern version of the Maytag repairman” who “twiddles his thumbs” and whose only responsibility is to “advise transversally”.
“Stop walking around saying you’re just an adviser and praising your insignificance in your role,” Ms. Rizqy said, prompting boos from the CAQ benches.
They criticize the Legault government for not taking responsibility for the failures of the SAAQ turnaround, which caused long queues for Quebecers who had to renew their driver’s license or pay for their license plates, and for rather point the finger at the directors of the crown corporation.
Transport Minister Geneviève Guilbault replied that “if there is one person who took part of the responsibility in this situation, it is me, I think”, before adding “like all of my colleagues in government”.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister François Legault deplored the “serious planning gaps” in the SAAQ’s IT transition and asked for an evaluation of the work of the Board of Directors and the organization’s big boss, Denis Marsolais.