Ottawa loosens up ArriveCAN |  on Coronavirus

Ottawa loosens up ArriveCAN | on Coronavirus

More than two years after launching the ArriveCAN application for people coming to Canada, Ottawa has decided to let go of some baggage.

From now on, neither Canadians nor workers nor foreign tourists will suffer painful consequences the first time they forget to fill out ArriveCAN before crossing the land border.

However, if this situation repeats itself, customs officials will have to ask them to do their homework, and in the event of refusal, motorists entering Canada risk quarantine and a fine.

Originally, such a measure was introduced for Canadian citizens at the beginning of the summer. According to our information, it was then extended to all foreign travelers during the month of July.

This initiative, implemented very discreetly, has not been the subject of a public announcement by the government of Justin Trudeau, who does not wish to elaborate on the issue. The Office of the Secretary of Public Safety, contacted by Radio-Canada, confirmed the information but made no comment.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) also did not respond to our questions.

An officer in front of a car that wants to enter Canada

Customs officials are currently verifying that everyone arriving in Canada has completed the ArriveCAN application.

Photo: (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Lack of staff at customs

This government directive has been sent to all agents stationed at the Canada-United States land border, says the Customs and Immigration Union, which welcomes the relaxation.

The implementation of the ArriveCAN application and associated measures will certainly entail additional tasks and the policy on exceptions reflects a lack of adequate border staff to ensure efficient processing of travelers, says Pierre Saint-Jacques, spokesman for the union.

From the point of view of the union, 2,000 to 3,000 officials are missing for all border services.

“For us, the requirement to complete the ArriveCAN application for whatever reason causes the most delays. »

— A quote from Pierre Saint-Jacques, spokesman for the Customs and Immigration Union

It is estimated that between 25% and 30% of travelers did not fill it out upon arrival. This definitely slows down the process as border officials may have to help travelers fill out the application. Ultimately, the use of the ArriveCAN application does not make cross-border travel easier, we argue on the part of the union.

However, according to our information, this recent flexibility by the Trudeau government is by no means a sign that this application will disappear anytime soon.

ArriveCAN went into effect in spring 2020, well before the Canadian border reopened, and initially allowed the quarantine plan for people arriving in the country to be fleshed out.

Subsequently, this computing tool evolved and would become a permanent part of the lives of Canadians and foreign travelers alike. At least that is the will of Ottawa and the CBSA.

For a few weeks now, travelers at the country’s most important airports – Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver – have been able to complete their customs declaration online with ArriveCAN.

In the coming months, this optional feature will also be offered to travelers arriving at Winnipeg, Halifax, Calgary, Edmonton, Billy Bishop of Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec International Airports, Ottawa also announced on its website (New Window).

This new feature, currently only available for flight arrivals, makes it easier to submit information [des voyageurs] faster and easier,” said Minister Marco Mendicino recently.