'Scrap the App': border chambers ask government to end ArriveCan

Published Aug. 15, 2022 11:03 a.m. ET
Updated Aug. 15, 2022 2:47 p.m. ET

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Border-city mayors are calling on the federal government to scrap the ArriveCan app requirements for travellers crossing the border. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

A coalition of Chambers of Commerce representing border communities across the country is calling on the federal government to suspend use of the ArriveCAN app.

The group is also asking the government to lift the remaining COVID-related border restrictions.

“The border measures are not only slowing down border crossings, but they’re also having a deterrent effect on visitors from the USA,” said Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Rakesh Naidu. “The ArriveCAN app is hurting both our tourism industry and our economy in general.”

U.S. visits through land ports are still down significantly across the country, compared to before the pandemic. Statistics Canada reports that border crossings from the United States in June 2022 were little more than half the number made in June 2019.

Tourism spending in Canada is still more than a third below pre-pandemic levels. Wait times at land border crossings have lengthened by up to two hours since 2019 despite traffic being cut in half, and bridge authorities attribute this entirely to restrictions and the ArriveCAN app. The average processing time for arriving passengers at airports has increased by 400 per cent.

“It isn’t only affecting the tourism industry,” said Naidu. “More than half of the total trade Canada conducts with the United States is by truck. The additional time and resources spent on border measures and the ArriveCAN app slows the crossing for all and puts additional strain on already stretched supply chains.”

Naidu said the ArriveCAN app is just not effective in its current form.

“The app’s requirement of only the first two doses is not based on our current understanding about COVID-19 vaccination and immunity,” said Naidu. “Therefore, its effect on limiting the spread of the virus is minimal, while at the same time hurting our tourism sector and economy in general.”

Windsor West MP Brian Masse said it is really about reducing physical presence at the border through going through the process to use the actual ArriveCan.

“We may actually have some perjury at the House of Commons committee because I asked specifically whether ArriveCAN was actually just a cover for a more permanent app,” said Masse. “And that's what it seems to be there and I've talked with the union presidents as well to who suspects the same thing.”

Masse it’s not as safe and not as secure.

“It's not as even good for that model and we've seen it fail at the airports and what I worry is the land borders are next with regards to it. So that's what you know it is a good thing that they're not going to persecute people because they can't fill out their arrive count on time.”

The group of border chambers currently includes the Vallee Chamber of Commerce, New Brunswick; the Amherstburg, Fort Frances, Windsor-Essex Regional, Greater Kingston, Sarnia Lambton, and Greater Niagara Chambers of Commerce in Ontario; and the Crystal City & District Chamber of Commerce in Manitoba.

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