Some local voices are joining a growing chorus of Canadian border town mayors, who are calling on the federal government to scrap the ArriveCAN app. After Ottawa announced the loosening of vaccination requirements and travel restrictions, many question the app’s purpose.
“With all the restrictions begin lifted, you wonder if it makes sense,” says Rainy River mayor Deb Ewald. “I’m not sure what purpose ArriveCAN serves now. If it’s not necessary, then why do it?”
“Let’s move on,” says Fort Frances mayor June Caul. “It has to go. I’m hoping the government does that very soon.”
Especially in towns like those across the Rainy River, Caul says people who must continually use this app are getting tired of it.
“We’ve got people working on either side of the border, families who travel back and forth, people who have friends, and some go to church there,” she says.
As the pandemic phases out, Caul says we should move on as well.
“We’re never going to be rid of it. People are going to get it at some point or another. It’s time to just let people decide the risk to their own bodies and health now — if they want to wear a mask or not, if they want to attend big events with lots of people,” she says. “I think people have learned to be cautious, people have learned what they feel they need to do in their lives to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s just time to move on.”
“You want to be safe, but is it really necessary?” added Ewald.
All travellers, with limited exceptions, whether entering the country by air, land, rail, or marine vessel must submit their information on ArriveCAN within 72 hours of arrival in Canada.
Failure to do so may mean a 14-day quarantine and a $5,000 fine.
“It’s very extreme,” says Caul. “To have to always have that app with you and go through the rigmarole before they’ll allow you back into Canada… it’s overdue we get rid of it.”
Many believe the app may be discouraging Americans from crossing the border, taking away from the local economy.
“It’s difficult enough this year because of the flooding,” says Caul. “This makes it that much more difficult for our camp owners to try to get back to normal life and start making a living again.”
Mayor Ewald echoed her concerns.
“That is the biggest detriment,” she says. “In our area, most of the tourists are from the United States. Camps especially have already gone two years with basically no revenue coming in at all.”
Michelle Ferreri, Conservative Shadow Minister for Tourism, and Tony Baldinelli, Conservative Shadow Minister for Manufacturing and Export Promotion, issued a statement about the app on Thursday.
“The tourism industry is finally hoping to see a recovery this summer travel season, but the federal government is standing in its way. By doubling down on requiring the mandatory use of the ArriveCAN application, the Liberal government is actively discouraging travel to Canada.”
At the International Trade Committee last Wednesday, it was shared that American visitation is not expected to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2026.
“The Tourism Industry Association of Canada, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, and the Customs and Immigration Union all confirmed to the committee that the ArriveCAN application is causing major delays at international ports of entry and stalling economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Its continued mandatory use is disproportionately impacting Canadian travel and tourism.
“This important committee meeting provided ample evidence that ArriveCAN as it currently operates, is hindering travel, tourism, and our overall economic recovery. Time is running out for the Liberals to fix the problem they created, to save the 2022 summer tourism season in Canada.”