“What’s the point?” ask Chambers of Commerce demanding ArriveCAN app’s demise

BlackburnNews.com file photo of traffic on the Ambassador Bridge, November 3, 2015. (Photo by Jason Viau)

The chorus calling for the demise of Canada’s ArriveCAN app is getting louder with the addition of a coalition of Chambers of Commerces.

“The ArriveCAN app is hurting both our tourism industry and our economy in general,” declared Rakesh Naidu, the CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Local numbers to quantify the impact are not available, but Statistics Canada says border crossings from the U.S. in June were little more than half what they were in June 2019.

Tourism spending is also down substantially. The agency said it is still only two-thirds what it was before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, wait times at the border are longer. Despite lower traffic volumes at land border crossings like the Ambassador Bridge and the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, it takes up to two hours longer to cross. At Canadian airports, the arrival processing time has increased by 400 per cent.

Interim CEO Rakesh Naidu speaks at the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporations's annual general meeting, June 8, 2016. (Photo by Jason Viau)

CEO Rakesh Naidu speaks at the Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporations’s annual general meeting, June 8, 2016. (Photo by Jason Viau)

Naidu believes it is discouraging tourism when those businesses are still trying to get their feet under them.

“These businesses have been starved of customers in the last two-and-a-half, three years,” he said. “We’re just pushing a lot of businesses to the brink.”

The federal government has argued the ArriveCAN app is integral to efforts to keep Canadians safe and track new variants as they enter the country. However, Naidu points out that the app only asks travellers if they’ve had two doses of the vaccine.

“In most cases, that has happened almost a year back,” he explained. “We know that immunity goes down in three to four months’ time. If people have only had the first two vaccinations which have been verified, what the point?”

It’s not just tourism that is suffering. Naidu believes the app is slowing trade and stretching already stressed supply chains.

“More than half of the total trade Canada conducts with the United States is by truck. The additional time and resources spent on border measures and the ArriveCAN app slows the crossing for all,” he said.

The coalition calling on Ottawa to suspend the app includes chambers in Sarnia-Lambton, the Greater Niagara area, and Fort Frances.