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Data from Quebeckers in cloud computing: Eric Kerr's project costs explode

Data from Quebeckers in cloud computing: Eric Kerr's project costs explode

Beyond the promised savings, moving Quebec residents' personal data to the cloud recently resulted in a cost “explosion” of $50 million. The project bill has now reached $372 million.

In February 2019, Ministers Christian Dubé and Eric Cayer promised a rapid saving of $100 million a year starting in 2023, by putting Quebec residents' information in cloud computing systems.

Ultimately, the Legault government's promise of $210 million per year in IT will be fulfilled, Minister of Cybersecurity and Digital Affairs (MCN) Eric Kjaer has confirmed.



Christian Dube, Government Minister of Digital Transformation, Treasury Board, on Monday, February 4, 2019 in the Parliament of Quebec. During the press conference, he confirmed the unification of computer processing centers. Simon Clarke/Journal de Quebec/QMI Agency

Archive photo, QMI Agency

Five years later, only 10 of the 110 targeted organizations had completed their migration. The project is scheduled to be implemented for all facilities on March 31, but so far only 54% of the project has been completed. Then, costs recently jumped 15% to $372 million, according to government data.

Minister Kair's office confirms that the costs have been reviewed to take into account the economic context that has developed since the launch of the program.

“The various cost increases we have encountered since the pandemic, including the scarcity of some computer components, have caused prices to rise. Construction costs associated with the expansion of one of MCN's computer processing centers have increased significantly,” said the minister's spokeswoman, Nathalie St-Pierre.

Fuzzy about saving

Today, Eric Cayer cannot promise that this change will result in real savings for Quebec, as his government promised.

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“In the first years of project implementation, we have investments to make,” said Eric Kjaer, when asked by solidarity activist Haroun Bouazi during the budget appropriations study last April.

The goal was to eliminate the 457 information processing centers of ministries and agencies, by moving 80% of the data to clouds belonging to companies such as AWS (Amazon) and Azure (Microsoft).

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

Only four large, modern data centers will be kept to store the most sensitive data in Quebec.



Data from Quebeckers in cloud computing: Eric Kerr's project costs explode

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Change direction

Solidarity MP Haroun Bouazi is concerned about the fact that Quebec has become dependent on Amazon and Microsoft, constantly paying more and more to rent space in their cloud computing technologies.

“We took the data on the servers we paid for and decided to put it on Azure or AWS. We pay like a taxi instead of like something we buy.”

First, the merger should be limited to general management and cost a maximum of $150 million. But without much fanfare, Quebec decided to annex the health and education networks. A government decree has now awarded $324 million to the Ministry of Cybersecurity and Digital Technology to accomplish the transformation by 2025.

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

The long saga of cloud computing

February 2019 : The Legault government announces that it will get rid of its 457 information processing centers, putting Quebec residents' information into American cloud computing systems. He says that starting in 2023, it will save $100 million annually.

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February 2019 : Issuance of the decree stating that the implementation phase of the data center consolidation program costs $155.9 million, and will be delivered on March 31, 2023 to all institutions. 80% of the data will be in systems owned by private companies. The other 20% will remain in Quebec's hands.

February 2019 : Computer security experts are concerned: US intelligence agencies could request personal data of Quebecers because of the Patriot Act and the Cloud Act, they say, which Eric Cayer refutes.

June 2020: A new decree is issued covering the health and education networks. The awarded budget has been increased to $324 million for full delivery by March 31, 2025.

Fall 2021 : The majority of public institutions awarded their cloud storage contracts to the supplier Amazon, causing panic in Quebec. The risks of relying on Amazon are raised.

Fall 2021 : A director at Revenu Québec and other organizations questioned during a meeting the savings estimated by Minister Eric Kier, reveals Newspaper.

February 2022: The new Ministry for Cybersecurity and Digital Affairs, headed by Eric Kier, is facing a deep crisis: Deputy Minister Guy Rochette has been sacked after a damaging review of his management, particularly regarding data center mergers.

February 2022 : Dozens of organizations have had their technology signed off privileges removed. In a dispute with the organizations, the minister retracted his decision a few months later.

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

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April 2024 : A year before the deadline, the budget explodes by 15% to $372 million. Only 10 institutions completed their transformation. A total of 86 public institutions and 23 ministries must migrate all their institutions to cloud computing.

Three other projects are facing difficulties in Eric Kjaer's ministry

Implementation of the government communications network

Authorized cost: $8.2 million

Final estimated cost: $40.8 million

Change 397%

Urban Radiocommunications Project (PUR)

The project has been on hold since 2022 after spending $50 million

Authorized cost: $82 million

Digital crossroads

Stopping the project to apply for government services

The “Quebec Portfolio” project, estimated at $105 million, continues

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