ArriveCan App Still Annoys Some Users Despite Patch

Although the issue was fixed on Wednesday, social media platforms are full of messages from commuters complaining that the app is generally inconvenient for the user. (Photo: Canadian Press)

Tech and medical experts, as well as travelers, continue to call for an end to the ArriveCan app, even after the federal government fixed a technical glitch that caused some users to needlessly self-isolate.

Although the issue was fixed on Wednesday, social media platforms are full of messages from commuters complaining that the app is generally inconvenient for the user.

The union representing border officers estimates that about 30% of people crossing the border have not completed their paperwork on the app, prolonging traveler processing times during what is proving to be a chaotic travel season.

“We are so understaffed and spending so much time managing this application that we really don’t have time for our real work,” Mark Weber, President of the Customs and Immigration Union, said during an interview.

According to Dr. Andrew Morris, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, the app has also lost its usefulness as a way to protect public health.

“I really have no idea why we should continue to use it the way we do now. It seems to me that this is a lot of effort, work and, frankly, inconvenience for many people in exchange for very little benefit, ”he said in an interview.

Morris also questioned the value of confirming that participants are vaccinated “when we don’t even make sure their immunizations are up to date, when the federal definition of full immunization doesn’t include three vaccines or a vaccine in the last, say five to six months.”

The ArriveCan app, launched in November 2020, aimed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by dual vaccinating arrivals and facilitating contact tracing, with the potential bonus of faster border processing.

Initially, the app was only mandatory for air passengers entering Canada, but in February 2021 it became mandatory for all border crossings. Canadian and international travelers are still required to provide information, including proof of vaccination, travel dates and contact details, within 72 hours of arrival in the country.

Last month, the government announced that the app would be mandatory until at least September 30, and Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino said it would survive the pandemic as part of a modernization strategy to eliminate bottlenecks at borders.

Meanwhile, selective testing, reported in an email linked to ArriveCan users, resumed at the country’s four largest airports last Tuesday, just five weeks after being suspended on June 11.

Collection of disputed data

Bianca Wylie, technology expert and partner at Digital Public, says the lack of oversight and accountability hinders an app that contains sensitive information and says use of the ArriveCan platform should be voluntary.

“You tell people you should use this app when we know there are people who don’t like that kind of app and who might not have the necessary technology,” she said in an interview.

“Code (of the application) is closed. We don’t know how it works. No advisory board, no oversight (…) no audit.”

The Quarantine Act allows the collection of data, but nowhere specifies the use of any specific technology, Ms Wylie said.

The app was developed by the Canada Border Services Agency and five companies that did not need to bid due to pre-existing contracts with the government.

The federal agency said it spent $24.7 million developing and supporting ArriveCan, as well as $2.2 million in advertising.

With a recent update, passengers arriving at Pearson and Vancouver airports can now complete customs declaration forms prior to landing in Canada – Montreal will do the same from Thursday – as part of Mr. Mendicino’s plan to “modernize our border” and cut lines at the border. .

According to Transport Canada, travelers who go through hundreds of automated kiosks at the four largest airports and use the app save 40 seconds on a two-minute interaction.

“Thousands of travelers passing through Toronto Pearson International Airport using ArriveCAN’s optional CBSA pre-application feature can save hours of processing each day,” the ministry said in a statement earlier this month.

According to the Department of Public Safety, ArriveCan is successfully used by over 99% of international air travelers and 89% of land travelers.

But Mark Weber, who heads the union that represents border officers, says it’s “the level of success after helping a traveler complete a task – or doing it for a traveler.”


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