RENIR keeps moving at a snails pace

RENIR keeps moving at a snail’s pace

If Quebec maintained the pace observed since May 2021, it would take another 8 long years to complete the implementation of the RENIR emergency telecommunications system, a project that started 20 years ago.

• Also read: $1000/hr for consultants in the RENIR mess

• Also read: The Ministry of Health is fed up with RENIR’s mistakes

After almost four years of project interruption due to “problems with the network”, implementation of the National Integrated Radiocommunications Network (RENIR) at the SQ resumed in May 2021. And according to the latest status report published by the government on August 22, just under 25 units were shipped in the 469 days after this relaunch.

“Functional anomalies were detected in February 2022 on a number of terminals purchased in autumn 2021. The supplier was forced to create a patch. This work required seven months of work,” states the Ministry of Cybersecurity and Digital to explain the slow pace.

More worryingly, however, the government’s information resource projects dashboard indicates that no fewer than 161 units remain to be migrated to the new system.

After a year and a half of operation, we can conclude that it would take 3,000 days to commission the remaining units, which is 8 long years.

However, the first public investments in RENIR were made under Bernard Landry’s PQ government in 2002. The integrated radio communication system should then be fully operational in 2008.


According to the timetable confirmed by the Ministry, the project of migrating the police service to the RENIR must end on March 31, 2025. A claim the President of the Union of Public and Parapublic Service of Quebec (SFPQ) finds hard to believe.

“It’s just pathetic. […] We will talk again in 2025 and we will do the same thing again,” regrets Christian Daigle, adding that any private company managing such a project “would have gone bankrupt a long time ago”.

The union believes the RENIR disaster is another symptom of the government’s IT management problems. The Journal notably revealed last February that the government was hiring outside consulting services for the project at $1,000 an hour.

“This is another problem that stems from a lack of in-house expertise. We are not able to analyze the needs, to analyze the progress of the projects and that always increases the dependence on the private sector. […] We relied on Motorola to find what we needed and we’ve been buying from them ever since and always returning the money,” says Mr Daigle indignantly, insisting the CAQ didn’t fare any better than its predecessors.

“The CAQ has denounced the fiasco of the computer brothel for years and today their minister Éric Caire is continuing it.”

endless abyss

Beyond the deadlines, the RENIR is also a trap for public funds. Originally estimated at around $150 million, the bill now exceeds $1 billion. And because technology advances faster than the system is successfully implemented, constant upgrades and additional investments are required.

According to a review in the Journal, Technological Infrastructures Quebec, the Department of Cybersecurity and Digital’s department responsible for the project, has awarded no less than $135 million to Motorola since January 2021 for the acquisition of equipment and services, all of which are non-tender contracts.

“We got our arms caught in the gears. We had the hand a few years ago, but now we’re at the elbow. Do we have to wait until we are taken on our shoulders to put an end to this,” asks Christian Daigle and calls on the government to “finally make the difficult decisions that are necessary”.

Progress in the implementation of RENIR

Since the resumption in May 2021

May 10, 2021:

111 RENIR user units


136 RENIR user units

25 units deployed in 469 days, 161 left

Source: Quebec Government Information Resource Projects Dashboard

The story of RENIR


The Nicolet Commission, set up after the Saguenay floods, recommends the integration and modernization of state telecommunications networks


The Treasury Board approves the installation of the new network, to be operational in 2006, at a cost of US$143.8 million


A new extrapolation shifts the RENIR back to 2007


3rd screening, this time for 2013, with a more than doubled budget of $336.3 million


The RENIR is operational, but the rescue services migration is largely incomplete


First improvement project and continued migration with budget increase of $24.1M


Interruption of the migration to the SQ due to major issues. The break lasts four years.


The Auditor General’s devastating report finds the system is not working and is being rejected by emergency responders while Quebec embarks on a second improvement project with an estimated additional budget of $35.9 million to $107.8 million


Migration of SQ police officers to the ‘new’ network resumed in May. 51% of police officers have not yet migrated.

Sep 2022

Almost 8% of the remaining police officers migrated to RENIR a year and a half ago. At this rate, operations would end in 2030, 28 years after the project started.

RENIR, a fiasco of more than a billion

Original budget in 2002 at project start


actual sum

At least $1.214 billion

$352 million (investments as of March 31, 2020)


$134.9 million (additional investments in 2021-2022)

$543.8 million (operating costs through 2019-2020)


$183.3M (keep old active network)

Source: Auditor General’s Report and Compilation of Public Procurements by the Journal

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