A coalition of Chambers of Commerce representing border communities across the country is calling on the Government of Canada to lift the remaining COVID-related border restrictions and to suspend use of the ArriveCAN app.
“The border measures are not only slowing down border crossings, they’re having a major deterrent effect on visitors from the USA,” said Heather Johnson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. “Our tourism industry is seeing a major hit, and after two years of highly restricted tourism seasons and the end of pandemic benefits, it’s one they’re struggling to absorb on top of inflation, labour shortages, and supply chain issues.”
US visits through land ports are still down significantly across the country. 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,” continued Johnson. “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 slow the crossing for all.”
Chambers of Commerce have repeatedly asked for the Government of Canada to provide supporting data indicating that ArriveCAN has a positive impact on public health. No data has yet been offered.
“Since virtually all mandates and vaccination requirements in Canada have been lifted, and with domestic transmission of all variants being recorded, we wonder if border restrictions are worth the economic cost right now,” said Johnson. “The app is also quite inflexible in its approach; visitors have to complete a quarantine plan even if they are only coming for a few hours and would be back home before they started to show symptoms, for instance.”
The group of border chambers currently includes the Vallee Chamber of Commerce, New Brunswick; the Amherstburg, Fort Frances, Windsor-Essex, Greater Kingston, Sarnia Lambton, and Greater Niagara Chambers of Commerce in Ontario; and the Crystal City & District Chamber of Commerce in Manitoba. All have called upon the Government of Canada to lift the remaining border restrictions and to cease the use of the ArriveCAN app for the benefit of their communities and their local economies.
The Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce is a voluntary organization of business and professional men & women who have joined together for the purpose of promoting the civic, commercial, and industrial progress of their community.