The federal government is considering ending the use of ArriveCAN, the unpopular app in which travellers to Canada are required to upload proof of vaccination and quarantine plans before entering the country.
According to a story in the Toronto Star published Friday, “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have yet to make a final decision, but several sources confirmed ministers will soon weigh in on a move that could also spell the end of the unpopular ArriveCAN app.” The move could come as soon as the end of September.
The government is apparently also considering ending other COVID-related travel restrictions, such as the ban on unvaccinated non-citizens from entering the country and randomized COVID-19 testing at the border. Unvaccinated Canadians are still required to present a negative COVID test (or previous positive test) at the border and quarantine at home for 14 days upon entering the country, or face a fine of up to $5,000.
The government appears to be internally divided on the issue of masking. Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos is reportedly interested in keeping mask requirements for travellers until after Thanksgiving, in order to monitor the effects of holiday travel. Technically, passengers on flights arriving in or departing from Canada are required to mask. However, some airlines are only enforcing the mandate in Canadian airspace, or before the plane’s door is locked for departure.
Travel delays were a major issue this summer, with massive waiting times at airports across the country. CNN named Toronto’s Pearson airport as the most delayed airport in the world this summer, with Montreal’s airport in second place and Vancouver’s in tenth. Critics blamed the app for causing unnecessary delays, with even the union representing Canada Border Services Agency guards saying that officers were spending too much time helping people fill out the forms. ArriveCAN has also been criticized for deterring travel from the United States, as well as privacy concerns.
Recently, the government rolled out an update to the app that allows passengers at several airports to make their customs declarations in advance, which it praised for cutting down on wait times at the border. However, the app has come under fire from new Conservative Party of Canada Leader Pierre Poilievre, who called it “disastrous” in his acceptance speech, earning significant applause. Commentators have suggested that Poilievre's rhetoric could be a push for the Liberals to end the public health restrictions.