June 16, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Data from Quebecers on cloud computing: The explosion of costs for the Eric Caire project

Data from Quebecers on cloud computing: The explosion of costs for the Eric Caire project

Far from the promised savings, the transfer of Quebecers' personal data to cloud computing recently created an “explosion” of $50M in costs. The project bill has now reached $372 million.

In February 2019, ministers Christian Dubé and Eric Cair promised to save Quebecers $100 million a year from 2023 by putting Quebecers' information in cloud computing systems.

Ultimately, the Minister for Cybersecurity and Digital Affairs (MCN), Eric Kair, promised that the Legault government's promise to save $210M a year in IT would be met.



Christian Dubé, Minister of Government Digital Transformation, Treasury Board, Monday, February 4, 2019, in the Quebec Parliament. In a press conference, he confirmed the integration of computer processing centers. Simon Clark/Journal de Quebec/Agence QMI

Archive photo, QMI Agency

After five years, only 10 of the targeted 110 organizations had completed their migration. The project was supposed to be completed by March 31 for all organizations, but so far, only 54% of the project has been completed. Spending recently rose 15% to $372 million, according to a government dashboard.

The Ministry of Care's office said the costs have been revised to take into account the economic context that has evolved since the program's inception.

“Various cost increases we have faced since the pandemic, including shortages of some computer components, have caused prices to explode. Construction costs associated with the expansion of one of MCN's computer processing centers have increased sharply,” said Nathalie Saint-Pierre, the minister's spokeswoman.

Ambiguity on savings

Today, Eric Cair is unable to promise that this change will lead to real savings for the state of Quebec, as his government has promised.

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“In the first years of the project's implementation, there are investments that we have to make,” Eric Kair reported when asked by solidarity activist Haroon Bouzzi during a study of budget allocations last April.

The goal is to eliminate 457 information processing centers of ministries and agencies by transferring 80% of data to clouds owned by companies such as AWS (Amazon) and Azure (Microsoft).

Although many organizations have revamped their fleet of servers, Eric Kair argues that they are “outdated” and put our data at risk.

Only four large modernized data centers are maintained to store Quebecers' most sensitive data.



Data from Quebecers on cloud computing: The explosion of costs for the Eric Caire project

Archive the photo

Change of direction

Solidarity MP Haroun Bouzzi is concerned about the state of Quebec's dependence on Amazon and Microsoft and its continued overpayment to rent space in their cloud computing technologies.

“We took the data on the servers we paid for and we decided to put it on Azure or AWS. We pay like a taxi rather than what we buy,” criticized Mr Bouji.

First, consolidation should be limited to public administration and cost a maximum of $150 million. But, without fanfare, Quebec decided to include health and education networks. A government order has now sanctioned $324 million to the Ministry of Cyber ​​Security and Digital Technology to complete the transition by 2025.

A few days ago, the estimated cost increased by nearly $50 million.

The long saga of cloud computing

February 2019 : The Legault government has announced it will eliminate 457 information processing centers by placing Quebecers' information in American cloud computing systems. Starting in 2023, he said, it would save $100 million a year.

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February 2019 : Publication of a decree indicating that the implementation phase of this data center consolidation program will cost $155.9 million and be delivered to all organizations by March 31, 2023. 80% of data resides in systems owned by private companies. The remaining 20% ​​will remain in the hands of Quebec.

February 2019 : Computer security experts worry: American intelligence agencies could request Quebecers' personal data because of the Patriot Act and the Cloud Act, Eric Kier denied.

June 2020: A new decree was published to include health and education networks. The sanctioned budget has been increased to $324 million for full delivery by March 31, 2025.

Fall 2021 : The majority of public organizations have awarded their cloud storage contracts to supplier Amazon, which has alarmed Quebec. The risks of relying on Amazon have increased.

Fall 2021 : A manager at Revenue Quebec and other agencies questioned Minister Eric Caire's projected savings at a meeting. News magazine.

February 2022: The new Ministry of Cyber ​​Security and Digital Affairs, headed by Eric Kair, is facing a serious crisis: Deputy Minister Guy Rochet was fired after a devastating audit of his management, particularly over the consolidation of data centers.

February 2022 : Dozens of organizations have removed signing privileges on their technologies. The minister reversed his decision after a few months after disagreeing with the organizations.

June 29, 2022: In an interview, Eric Kier officially announced that the merger would cost $325 million. At the same time, he announced that 40% of the most sensitive Quebec data would ultimately be kept in a government-owned system.

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April 2024 : A year before the deadline, the budget grew 15% to $372 million. Only 10 organizations have completed their transition. A total of 86 public organizations and 23 ministries must move their organizations to cloud computing.

Eric Keir's ministry has three other projects that are difficult

Implementation of Government Telecommunications Network

Authorized cost: $8.2 million

Final estimated cost: $40.8 million

397% change

Urban Radio Communication Project (PUR)

The project has been shelved since 2022 after spending $50 million

Authorized cost: $82 million

Digital intersection

Suspension of application project for availing government services

A continuation of the $105 million estimated “Quebec Portfolio” project

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