Canada’s ArriveCAN Criticized For Causing Travel Delays

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Canada’s ArriveCAN Criticized For Causing Travel Delays
Canada immigration free assessment

Canada immigration news: ArriveCAN is increasingly coming under fire for causing delays at airports and border crossings, despite first being introduced by the federal government to make travelling to Canada easier during COVID-19.

Ottawa insists travellers use the app to provide their personal information and COVID-19 vaccination status. The app was launched in April 2020 and its stated purpose was to create a “secure and user-friendly way to help travellers comply” with public health restrictions at the border.

It has not turned out that way for many people.


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Mark Webber, president of the Customs and Immigration Union, has reportedly told The Globe and Mail, a national newspaper in Canada, the ArriveCAN app and excessive dependency on technology are causing delays at Canadian airports.

“What we’re seeing specifically on the customs side is really long delays for travellers to clear customs when they’re coming into the country,” Weber reportedly said.

He described the ArriveCAN app screens which need to be populated with the in-coming traveller’s information as something “which does take a lot of travellers quite a bit of time to fill out.”

Others, though, say Ottawa should be given time to fix any troubles users may be experiencing with the app.

“Isn’t the solution to fix the glitch in the app?” asked one man on Twitter. “When Windows gives me a glitch, I don’t go on Twitter demanding that everyone abandon Windows because I had a problem. If the glitch is worldwide, Microsoft sends an update to fix the glitch.”


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Available through Apple’s App Store and Google Play, the ArriveCAN app’s latest version, which travellers must now use, came out on June 28 this year. 

“You must use ArriveCAN to provide mandatory travel and public health information before and after your entry into Canada,” states the federal government on its website. “ArriveCAN is not only keeping travellers safe but is part of our ongoing efforts to modernize cross-border travel.”

That “modernization” is now facing a lot of backlash.

Last month, only weeks before Ottawa unveiled the latest version of the app, mayors and business leaders of communities near Canada’s shared border with the United States called to have the app scrapped.

Ottawa Urged To Scrap ArriveCAN

In an interview with the CBC, Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley reportedly dubbed the ArriveCAN app a disaster which is discouraging Americans from coming to Canada.

“When you’re riding a dead horse, dismount. That’s what the federal government needs to do,” Bradley reportedly said.

An Ipsos poll conducted for Global News and released last week shows 70 per cent of Canadians see the widespread delays at airports across the country as a national embarrassment. 

A whopping 60 per cent of surveyed Canadians told Ipsos they are avoiding travel until the situation improves.

“The poll definitely suggests there’s a lot of anger right now and uncertainty around travel,” Gregory Jack, vice-president of Ipsos Public Affairs, reportedly told Global News.

“Overall, we definitely see a very high level of concern among Canadians in what’s happening at our airports and they are spreading the blame around pretty equally.”

Critics of the ArriveCAN go so far as to describe the app as an example of big government intruding into the personal lives of travellers.

Ezra Levant’s Rebel News, a conservative media outlet, describes the app as “Orwellian” and has a petition on its website calling on Ottawa to scrap it. As of Tuesday afternoon, that petition had 7,272 signatures.

ArriveCAN Lambasted As ‘Seizure Of Personal Information By The Government’

“By (Prime Minister) Justin Trudeau’s logic, the app somehow keeps Canadians safe against the virus,” states the Rebel News website. “But in reality, ArriveCAN is a seizure of personal information by the government which should be protected under section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Canada’s failed pandemic response continues to freefall into an authoritarian abyss and the ArriveCAN app used to track and trace Canadian citizens is no exception.”

On its website, though, Ottawa notes the personal information provided through ArriveCAN is protected under the Privacy Act.

All travellers, with limited exceptions, are required to use the ArriveCAN app when entering Canada by air, land, rail or boat must unless exempt from this requirement due to an accessibility need.

The information needs to be submitted within 72 hours before arrival in Canada and/or before boarding a cruise ship destined for Canada.

Travellers who don’t submit their information through ArriveCAN can be denied boarding a cruise ship and even entry into Canada at a land, rail or marine border crossing.

 “Canadian citizens, permanent residents, persons registered under the Indian Act and foreign nationals eligible to enter Canada under another entry exemption (such as foreign work, study, compassionate grounds) will not be denied boarding or entry,” states the federal government website, “But you:

  • won’t be eligible for the fully-vaccinated traveller exemption, and may be required to quarantine and complete an arrival and Day-8 test;
  • may face additional delays at the border for public health questioning, and;
  • may be subject to fines or enforcement action.”
Canada immigration free assessment
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Colin Singer is an international acclaimed Canadian immigration lawyer and founder of immigration.ca featured on Wikipedia. Colin Singer is also founding director of the Canadian Citizenship & Immigration Resource Center (CCIRC) Inc. He served as an Associate Editor of ‘Immigration Law Reporter’, the pre-eminent immigration law publication in Canada. He previously served as an executive member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Quebec and National Immigration Law Sections and is currently a member of the Canadian Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Colin has twice appeared as an expert witness before Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration. He is frequently recognized as a recommended authority at national conferences sponsored by government and non-government organizations on matters affecting Canada’s immigration and human resource industries. Since 2009, Colin has been a Governor of the Quebec Bar Foundation a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of the profession, and became a lifetime member in 2018.