ArriveCan app could be used beyond pandemic, says public safety minister

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Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino said the much-criticized ArriveCan app could help speed up border bottlenecks and could have uses beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

While visiting a customs checkpoint in Windsor, Ontario. On Tuesday, Mendicino said the ArriveCan app — the COVID-19 screening tool that border town mayors have asked the government to scrap — could be a useful technology moving forward.

“ArriveCan was originally created for the needs of COVID-19, but it has a technological capability beyond that to really reduce the time it takes when you are checked at the border,” he said.

“So the vision is really to use the platform to reduce time, so CBSA officers can really focus on the issues, like if you’re trying to smuggle a gun or smuggle Drugs.”

The app was introduced during the pandemic to allow travelers to report their travels and vaccination status. Ottawa requires travelers to use the ArriveCan mobile app, or its desktop versionto submit their travel and health information related to COVID-19 before arriving in Canada.

Travelers who do not may face a 14-day quarantine and even a $5,000 fine.

Mayors of border towns say the tool is a barrier for tourists seeking to enter Canada and for trade.

Chief says delete the app

Some indigenous people also have problems with this.

“We have issues with ArriveCan,” Chief Charles Sampson of Walpole Island First Nation told CBC News.

“In particular, in many cases our employees do not have the technology to download the app and do not have the necessary iPhones to commute and take with them on their trips to the United States. “

Chief Charles Sampson of Walpole Island First Nation said the ArriveCAN app is a barrier for members of his community wanting to cross the border. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Sampson said he was in a Tuesday morning meeting with the minister’s office, saying he told them adamantly to scrap the app for his community and all Canadians.

“Regarding the treaty Jay [an agreement signed in 1794 by the U.K. and the U.S.]one of the articles says we have free access to cross the border safely,” Sampson said at the annual conference of the Jay Treaty Border Alliance, held in Windsor and Detroit this week and attended by Mendicino.

“We recognize that and interpret that in modern terms to go back and forth across the border to do our business and come back to Canada without the barriers and technological issues that we have to deal with.”

Sampson said he thought the app was “redundant” and “unnecessary”.

Mendicino said his government is working to streamline technology. He said he was “receptive” to mayors and border stakeholders and made himself available to share their concerns.

The Canada Border Services Agency HCV mobile vehicle is used to X-ray the contents of entire transport trucks, without removing all the goods inside. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

Mendicino was in Windsor to tout the merits of his government’s new gun control legislation, Bill C-21.

He attended a demonstration in Windsor of technologies used by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers to seize firearms and illegal goods entering the country. Technologies included a sniffer dog and a vehicle capable of X-raying entire transport trucks.

“One of the ways we’re going to make sure travelers have a seamless experience at the border is to introduce technologies like the one you’ve seen here,” Mendicino said, speaking to reporters after the demonstration.

“So if you can scan a truck in minutes rather than hours, you actually save time, you save resources so that we can book other carriers and staff for the volumes of trips that come back.”

The customs union calls for thousands of additional hires

Mendicino’s comments come a day after the union representing customs officers criticized the CBSA for not hiring enough staff to fill shortages amid a busy travel season, and demanded that the agency hires 1,000 to 3,000 additional employees.

“With no end in sight to the delays affecting travelers at airports and border crossings across the country, it is clear that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has no intention of putting travel back on the rails anytime soon,” the Customs and Immigration Union said in a release on Monday.

The federal government has scrambled to respond to the scenes of endless lines, flight delays and daily bustle at airports, a problem the aviation industry — and now unions — blames the shortage of federal security and customs officers.

“Summer is a season, it’s not an emergency. We don’t understand how the current situation wasn’t entirely predictable and wasn’t resolved until we got to this kind of desperate situation,” he said. said union president Mark Weber.

The Ambassador Bridge connecting Detroit to Windsor, Ontario is pictured in this file photo. The head of the union representing CBSA workers said wait times at air and land borders are increasing amid the busy summer travel season. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

Bottlenecks are growing despite passenger volumes at land crossings and airport customs standing at around three-quarters of pre-pandemic levels, Weber said.

Land checkpoints are not exempt from the delays that plague Canada’s largest airports, with “significant wait times” at busy crossings, he added.

“At our busiest ports, somewhere like Windsor, it’s not uncommon to see wait times of two or three hours for cars to come through.”

The CBSA said it is making more workers and students available, as well as additional automated kiosks in the busy customs area at Toronto’s Pearson airport.

“In response to recent delays related to increased spring and summer travel, the CBSA is making significant extra efforts and adding resources to plan and prepare for various peak periods. Considerable analysis is carried out to inform the need for resources that will be required to respond to projected trends and patterns,” Audrey Champoux, spokesperson for the Minister of Public Safety, said in an email.

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