Windsor

Federal transport minister defends ArriveCAN app despite criticism

Federal Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra has defended the ArriveCAN app, saying more delays would occur at border crossings if it was not a requirement. Alghabra said the app and the requirement to be vaccinated to cross to enter Canada makes the process more efficient.

Criticism comes as people experience issues entering or re-entering Canada

A man wearing a blue suit stands at a podium delivering a speech
Federal Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra defended the ArriveCAN app despite criticism from people who have experienced difficulties with the app when entering Canada. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Federal Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra has defended the ArriveCAN app, saying more delays would occur at border crossings if it was not a requirement.

Alghabra said the app and the requirement to be vaccinated to cross to enter Canada makes the process more efficient.

"Without it, the process of verification would be manual and it would be much more complicated and it would take a much longer time," he said.

Most recently a Windsor man who forgot to fill out the ArriveCAN app said he was "retroactively punished" after being told to quarantine because he "did not qualify as fully vaccinated," even though he's had three COVID-19 shots. 

Alghabra has acknowledged that people have encountered difficulties with the app when they attempt to enter Canada. He said his office has spoken with colleagues who are sharing feedback they have received from their respective communities about the app.

"We're listening," he said. "We want to make sure we work with them on enhancing and improving the flow of people, especially at land borders."

Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk has said he has heard those frustrations.

"Overwhelmingly, we've heard concerns that it is a barrier and it presents a frustrating challenge for residents and businesses," he said.

Kusmierczyk has said that while he and his office have heard people's complaints about the app, he has also heard experiences of people who have not had issues. He even sought out American tourists in Niagara Falls last week and asked them about their experience.

"I sought them out specifically and said, 'Hey, tell me about ArriveCAN'," he said. "Some of the tourists said it was not an issue."

Alghabra said his office is having discussions "with communities and within government" about the app, but declined to elaborate.

A man wearing a suit answering questions from reporters
Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk talking about the ArriveCAN app with reporters. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Alghabra also responded to allegations that the app is unconstitutional.

"Courts and other tribunals and other bodies have looked at the justification for mandates and other public health measures, and found them to be constitutional given the situation that we're in," he said. "I can assure you that every time we do anything, especially during the pandemic, our priority was guided by saving the lives of Canadians in a measured and prudent way."

An order in council relating to border measures is set to be reviewed in September.

Alghabra and Kusmierczyk made the comments in Windsor after Alghabra announced that the federal government would be exploring options in the fall to improve rail service in southwestern Ontario.

With files from Jason Viau

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