In an unsurprising turn of events, comments made by Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino suggested that ArriveCAN, a controversial app required at points of entry into Canada, could become permanent. Some changes made on its website and app also suggest the same.
Speaking at an event in Windsor earlier this week, Mendocino said that the app has the potential for other uses.
“ArriveCAN was originally created for COVID-19, but it has technological capacity beyond that, to shrink the amount of time that is required when you’re getting screened at the border,” Mendicino said, via the National Post.
The app is mandatory to enter Canada. Foreigners who refuse to use it or encounter problems while using it may be refused entry, while Canadians and permanent residents may face mandatory quarantines, additional delays at the border, and even fines.
Earlier this week, changes made to the app and on ArriveCAN’s website also suggest the app might become permanent.
Previously, the first paragraph on the website had a sentence reading: “It only takes minutes to help keep each other safe.” In the updated version of the webpage, the line was removed and replaced with, “ArriveCAN is not only keeping travelers safe, but is part of our ongoing efforts to modernize our border.”
“The application provides border agents with the tools to ensure that travelers are processed quickly, efficiently, and safely, as we see our ports of entry return to pre-pandemic volumes,” a spokesperson for ArriveCAN said to the Post. “We continue to regularly assess the various tools put in place to keep Canadians safe during their travels and will continue to look for opportunities to improve the border experience for those who seek entry to Canada.”
On Wednesday, the government announced that the current Covid measures for travelers will apply throughout the summers, meaning the mandatory ArriveCAN will remain in use until at least the end of September.
The continued use of the app has been heavily opposed.
Mendicino made the comments about the app while at the Jay Treaty Border Alliance Summit at Walpole Island First Nation, located at the Canada-US border. According to Walpole Island First Nation’s Chief Charles Sampson, ArriveCAN violates the Jay Treaty, a 1794 agreement between the US and UK to guarantee free passage for First Nations members on either side of the border.
Sampson called on Mendicino to decommission the app, which he described as “redundant and unnecessary.”
Border city mayors and tourism officials have also called for the app to be decommissioned because they fear Americans who want to cross the border might view it as an intrusive inconvenience.
Despite the discontent with the continued use of the app, the Liberal government allocated a budget of $25 million to ArriveCAN.