ArriveCan app might still be used after the pandemic: public safety minister

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)

The ArriveCan app appears to be staying in place for now with the Minister of Public Safety saying it may be utilized beyond the pandemic.

While touring The CBSA Commercial Inspection Facility near the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Marco Mendicino said compliance with the app is high, suggesting it helps reduce border delays.

“ArriveCan was originally created for the purposes of COVID-19, but it has technological capacity beyond that to really shrink the amount of time that is required when you're getting screened at the border,” Mendicino said.

He continued, “statistics reveal that well over 90 per cent of people are complying with the ArriveCan and so once you do that initial upload, it's very fast and very efficient.”

Mendicino said the government was trying to make a smooth and efficient experience for travellers with the onset of the summer travel season here.

“Technology is a positive way in which you can decrease the amount of time that is that is required to clear customs and border at border checkpoints,” he said. “And we'll continue to do that constructively and collaboratively taking all of the feedback that we get from our border communities.”

Meantime, area politicians continue their calls for the app to end. Windsor West MP Brian Masse told CTV News he believes the reliance on technology has gone too far, blaming the app for creating cross border delays.

“We even see it here when there's actually a breakdown on the system,” Masse said. “That's where you get the lineups going blocks upon blocks is mostly because of the system being down. And this is just an unnecessary vulnerability for ourselves and again, doesn't make us any safer because the officers can check the vaccination status just was quick with the paperwork versus out of actually fooling around with a phone.”

Masse explained, “especially during the summertime right now with lots of travel, let's start educating and training people to be prepared when they go to the border and having the proper trained staff at the border is the key component.“

At the annual Jay Treaty Border Alliance conference in Windsor Tuesday, Chief Charles Sampson of Walpole Island First Nation told CTV News many people believe the app doesn’t make sense.

“I feel that it is a redundant technology that is not utilized on the American side,” Sampson said, “And I think it makes no sense.”

He continued, “It is a hindrance and for a lot of our people that lack the technology to download and do all these other requirements that are necessary to activate the app, we feel that it has to be eliminated, particularly along the border if we are to enjoy the freedom we have under the Jay Treaty as well as for the other Canadians that want to do shopping or even to continue on with their businesses on the United States side.”

Mendicino later said he understands that there are concerns that have been expressed about ArriveCan.

“But what I have communicated is that we will continue to take the input that we receive from the community so that ArriveCan is streamlined so that for those who can't access digital devices, that we find other ways to reduce those barriers and that is something that CBSA is committed to doing,” said Mendicino.