The consulting firm McKinsey & Company has seen the amount of money it earns from federal contracts explode since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to power — to the point where some suggest it may have a central role in shaping Canada's immigration policies.
A Radio-Canada investigation also learned the private consulting firm's influence is raising concerns within the federal public service.
According to public accounts data from Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC), the Liberals spent 30 times more money on McKinsey's services than Stephen Harper's Conservatives did.
In the nine years of the Harper government, McKinsey was awarded $2.2 million in federal contracts. During Trudeau's seven years in office, the company has received $66 million from the federal government.
McKinsey, an American firm with 30,000 consultants in 130 offices in 65 countries, provides advice to both private and public entities — which sometimes have conflicting interests — and does not disclose its business ties.
For example, Export Development Canada has paid McKinsey $7.3 million to provide various analyses since last year. The Business Development Bank of Canada paid the company $8.8 million for advice in 2021 and 2022.
Radio-Canada's analysis shows that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has turned to McKinsey the most since 2015, with $24.5 million in contracts for management advice.
IRCC and the Canada Border Services Agency account for 44 per cent of federal compensation issued to the firm.
McKinsey refused to answer Radio-Canada questions regarding its role and agreements with the federal government. The government did not provide copies of the firm's reports in response to Radio-Canada's request.
McKinsey's influence over Canadian immigration policy has grown in recent years without the public's knowledge, according to two sources within IRCC. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.
Both held major roles within the department during the height of the consulting firm's influence and spoke to Radio-Canada separately.
"It was completely opaque. We asked to collaborate, to share our ideas, but it didn't work," said one source with an important position within IRCC.
"McKinsey was an idea from the government. The policy was decided for civil servants. It causes a lot of operational instability," said the second source.
"These people, these firms forget the public interest, they're not interested in it. They're not accountable."