OTTAWA - Travellers who can't access the government's ArriveCan app, or simply forget to fill it out, may start to receive some clemency at the border after Canada's public safety minister gave new instructions to border officials to allow people to provide their travel details in person.
Checking in on the app has become a mandatory part of crossing into Canada, regardless of how long the traveller has been out of the country.
It collects information about where the traveller has been, the purpose of their trip, their contact information, vaccination information, pre-travel COVID-19 test results, and their quarantine plan once they are in Canada.
Foreign nationals who fail to give their information have until now been barred from boarding planes into the country. Canadians, permanent residents and others with right of entry have so far been subject to two weeks of quarantine if they fail to offer their information to the app.
Members of Parliament have received hundreds of complaints about the policy, over inaccessibility and unreliability Conservative public safety critic Raquel Dancho said Monday during question period in the House of Commons.
"The ArriveCan app has crashed for some users. Many can't access it from poor cell service. Many seniors don't have smartphones. For others costly data plans are out of reach for them," she said.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino told the House the government will never hesitate to put measures in place to protect Canadians at the border, particularly in light of the emergence of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
"With regards to ArriveCan, I want to assure my colleagues that I've spoken with the (Canada Border Services Agency) so that there's additional guidance to provide the opportunity for travellers to provide the information that is necessary on ArriveCan in person at the borders," he said.
The government created several new border restrictions in response to the spread of the Omicron variant, including closing borders to foreign nationals who spent time in 10 African countries, and instituted new testing and quarantine requirements for all incoming travellers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2021.