'Leniency' offered to Canadians having difficulty using ArriveCan app at border
After complaints began piling up over glitches with Canada’s ArriveCan app, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino says Canadians will be able to provide information in-person at the border when the app isn’t working.
The minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons Monday after questions from Conservative MP Raquel Dancho.
“The ArriveCan app has crashed for some users, many can’t access it from poor cell service, some seniors don’t have smartphones, for others costly data plans are out of reach for them,” Dancho said in the House. “Something needs to be done about this and something needs to be done, now.”
Mendicino responded that the government has advised CBSA officers “to provide the opportunity for travellers to provide the information that is necessary on ArriveCan, in person at the borders.”
Dancho also released a statement along with fellow conservative MPs Luc Berthold and Melissa Lantsman saying while CBSA has been instructed to offer accommodation for those returning home, there are still many Canadians stuck in two weeks of quarantine for failing to use the app.
"Canada’s Conservatives are deeply concerned by the haphazard patchwork of policies and the lack of consideration for travellers subject to this policy,” the statement said. “During a pandemic, clear and concise communications from the government is critical.”
The MPs go on to call for the Liberal government to revoke quarantine orders for fully vaccination Canadians who have been “wrongly punished due to this government’s bungled ArriveCAN app policy.”
One of those people having difficulty is Kathy Nield.
“I knew when I got to the border that I was going to have a bit of an issue,” Nield told CTV Ottawa.
She says she was returning to Canada from New York State and had used the ArriveCan app before, but this time she couldn’t log on and couldn’t reset her password.
“And then she (CBSA officer) said ‘oh,’ and started to read me the regulation of all the penalties that I was going to have to incur,” said Nield.
Those penalties can include $75,000 fine and potentially, a 14-day quarantine.
Thankfully for Nield, the border guard granted her an exemption.
“It’s not fair to be penalizing people when your software isn’t up to snuff,” Nield said.
“It appears all the complaining, all the social media pressure whatever you wanna call it, actually worked,” said Martin Firestone, a travel insurance broker said.
“Now individuals who either did not fill it out, did not complete it properly, or weren’t even aware of it, can now get an opportunity, to how do you say, pull over on the side of the road, and do it and be accepted,” said Firestone.
Even with this development, It’s still recommended travellers use the ArriveCan app and when you’ve filled it out — screen shot your receipt so it’s ready in case of internet connection issues.
In absence of the app on a smartphone, Firestone advises travellers to fill out the form online before their trip and print out a paper copy of the receipt.
Firestone says the rules seem to be changing almost daily and it’s no wonder many people can’t seem to keep up.
“We’ve got to get this into some sort of constant normal flow where we’re not surprised everyday with something new,” he said.