Although the issue was resolved on Wednesday, social media platforms are filled with messages from passengers complaining that the app is not generally user friendly. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
Tech and medical experts, as well as travelers, continue to demand the cancellation of the ArriveCan app, even after the federal government fixed a technical flaw that required some users to self-isolate unnecessarily.
Although the issue was resolved on Wednesday, social media platforms are filled with messages from passengers complaining that the app is not generally user friendly.
The union that represents border services officials estimates that about 30% of people crossing the border have not completed their document in the application, extending processing times for travelers during a chaotic travel season.
“We are understaffed and we spend so much time running this app that we don’t really have the time to do our real work,” Mark Webber, president of the Customs and Immigration Federation, said during an interview.
Dr Andrew Morris, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Toronto, said the app has also lost its usefulness as a way to protect public health.
“I really have no idea why we continue to use it the way we use it now. It seems to me that there is a lot of effort and work involved, and to be honest, it causes a lot of inconvenience to a lot of people, as opposed to very little benefit,” he noted in an interview.
Morris also questioned the value of assuring participants to be vaccinated “at a time when we are not really sure that their vaccines are up-to-date, when the federal definition of full vaccination does not include three vaccines or a vaccine in the past, say, five or six months.”
The ArriveCan app, launched in November 2020, aims to limit the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring arrivals are doubly vaccinated and facilitating contact tracing, with the potential advantage of faster processing at borders.
The application was initially only mandatory for air travelers entering Canada, but became a requirement for all border crossings in February 2021. Canadian and international travelers still must provide information, including proof of vaccinations, travel dates, and contact details within 72 hours of arriving in Canada. country.
The government announced last month 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 aimed at reducing bottlenecks at the border.
Pendant ce temps, les tests aléatoires, qui sont communiqués par l’entremise des courriels associés aux utilisateurs d’ArriveCan, ont repris dans les quatres plus grands aéroports du pays mardi dernier, à pees sur le cens le semain 11 June.
Controversial data collection
Bianca Wylie, tech expert and partner at Digital Public, says a lack of oversight and accountability plagues the app – which contains sensitive information – and says use of the ArriveCan platform should be voluntary.
“You are telling people that you should use this app, when we know that there are people who are uncomfortable with an app like this and may not have the required technology,” she said in an interview.
“The (application) code is locked. We don’t know how it works. There is no advisory board, no oversight (…) there has been no audit.”
Ms Wylie said the quarantine law authorizes data collection, but does not specify anywhere that any particular technology will be used.
The application was developed by the Canada Border Services Agency and five companies that did not have to participate in the tender process due to pre-existing contracts with the government.
The federal agency said it spent $24.7 million to develop and maintain ArriveCan, as well as $2.2 million to advertise.
Following a recent update, travelers arriving at Pearson and Vancouver airport can now complete customs declaration forms before landing in Canada — Montreal will do the same as of Thursday — as part of Mr Mendicino’s plan to “modernize our borders” and reduce queues at the border.
According to Transport Canada, travelers who pass through hundreds of automated kiosks in customs areas at the four largest airports and who use the app save 40 seconds of two-minute interaction.
“With thousands of travelers passing through Toronto Pearson International Airport using ArriveCAN’s optional CBSA pre-advertisement feature, this can save hours of processing each day,” the department emphasized in a statement earlier this month.
ArriveCan has been used successfully by more than 99% of international air passengers and 89% of passengers on the ground, according to the Department of Public Safety.
But Mark Webber, who heads the union that represents Border Services officers, says these are “success rates after helping a traveler complete it — or a traveler complete it.”