Public Health insists arrival is mandatory, saving travelers time

According to a Public Health Service report filed before the House Committee, travelers must use the mandatory ArriveCan app when traveling to and from Canada, and are threatened with fines if they do not, and travelers saved “about 5 minutes” at the border crossing.

“ArriveCan was a necessary component of Canadian measures to prevent the introduction and spread of Covid-19 in Canada,” Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) told the Commission’s MP. . Submission November 14, 2022, first report January 6th by Blacklock’s Reporter. “The information collected by ArriveCan was important.”

“It saves about five minutes at the border for each traveler, and significantly reduces overall processing time and contacts at the port of entry,” PHAC reports to the House Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimation. the book says.

Epoch Times photo
A person holding the smartphone set as the startup screen of the ArriveCan app over a file photo. (Canadian Press/Giordano Ciampini)

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, ArriveCan cost $54 million.

was created in response to request PHAC was created in April 2020 for then-Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) President John Ossowski to develop an application to collect traveler and health information.

In testimony before the committee on December 8, 2022, Ossowski, who left the CBSA in June of the same year, said in April 2020, “the average transit time per traveler was up to seven minutes. It was,” he said. .

Comparing the numbers provided by Ossowski with the time savings PHAC described of “about five minutes” means that it took travelers just two minutes to cross the border since ArriveCan was installed. .

In April 2020, nearly 70,000 travelers were exempted from entering Canada, compared with nearly 3.2 million travelers who arrived in April 2019, despite entry restrictions at the time. Allowed.

the union did not agree

The 7-minute time-saving figure in the PHAC report contradicts testimony by the Customs and Immigration Service (CIU) in September 2022. The lines were so long that a border crossing traveler soiled his clothes while waiting to cross the border. according to To the BlackRock reporter.

“I heard from one of the Niagara Falls police officers that a traveler who was stuck in a car for a long time actually urinated and defecated. The border was very understaffed.” testified CIU National President Mark Webber said: “I think that says it all.”

“The biggest difficulty we faced was that people simply didn’t know they had to complete the app, or there were cases where some people simply refused to fill it out,” said Weber. says Mr. “What we saw was that he had to deal with a significant 30-40% of travelers who arrived without completing, which caused four or five hour queues.”

“It wasn’t a matter of not being able to do it,” said Weber. “A lot of times they simply didn’t want or know that it was a problematic requirement.”


On November 2, 2022, the House of Commons voted 173 to 149 to conduct an audit of the ArriveCan program as a result of a motion put forward by opposition leader Pierre Polivre.

“We didn’t need an app,” Poilievre said at the time. “Canadians have been able to cross borders without borders for decades, hundreds of years. Why the sudden need for this app?”

The audit will cover all aspects of ArriveCan’s payments, contracts and subcontracts, but no deadline has been announced for the final report.

osowski said Committee In his testimony dated December 8, 2022, he testified that ArriveCan was necessary.

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Travelers at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, British Columbia on March 13, 2020. The Canadian Border Services Agency says it is adding new screening questions to travelers arriving in Canada asking if he has symptoms of COVID-19. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward)

In the early days of the pandemic, “travelers were required to respond verbally to CBSA officers to ensure they were complying with the myriad of rules established through various decrees of the council. , combined with the need for social distancing, made the airport a chaotic scene,” said Ossowski.

“Papers have been distributed to travelers to obtain information for contact tracing and quarantine plans,” and the CBSA had collected a “huge amount of paper.”

“It was critical that federal and state health officials had timely access to this data in order to slow the spread of the virus,” Ossowski testified.

by PHAC Report Presented to the commission, the agency “needed a technological solution to digitize the collection of traveler information upon entry into Canada.”

“The heavy reliance on paper forms for traveler contact information in the early days of the pandemic created many inefficiencies.”

The federal government used ArriveCan Required For air travelers wishing to enter Canada in November 2020. It was subsequently decommissioned on October 1, 2022.

During use, ArriveCan collects data and “to share this information with states that have been desperate,” Ossowski testified.

ArriveCan, he said, is linked “in real time” with passports, state vaccination credentials, and the CBSA system, helping an estimated 60 million travelers and CBSA officials “see a green check mark on their screen.” They said they were allowed to cross the border just by seeing ‘notify them’. All border health requirements are met. “

“CBSA incorporates new aspects to help verify proof of vaccine certificates for foreigners using AI tools, as well as real-time verification of key provincial QR codes to help Canada We can make it easier for citizens,” said Ossowski.

Marnie Cathcart

Marnie Cathcart is a reporter based in Edmonton.