Saturday, June 15, 2024

Lobbying Ottawa to eliminate ArriveCan at the Canada-US border

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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Elected officials and business representatives in the United States are increasing pressure on the Trudeau government to reduce travel delays between the United States and Canada.

Près de 1500 courriels ont été envoyés aux députés fédéraux et au ministre de la Sécurité publique, Marco Mendicino, depuis la mise en ligne de la nouvelle campagne du Conseil des Vos affaires canadiennes-américites «cécurité com 2019](CABC) ‘, two weeks ago.

She is calling on Ottawa to cancel the controversial ArriveCan, a mandatory screening tool for people arriving in Canada.

CABC also wants the federal government to get rid of the 350,000 backlog of applications to join the NEXUS program, making it possible to expedite the passage of travelers at the Canada-US border.

Both are direct symptoms of the epidemic and are just one of a series of factors that critics of government measures say are causing widespread delays in travel across the continent and deterring some potential travelers.

But they are also the easiest factors to remove, according to the organization’s president and CEO, Mariscott Greenwood, who fears the pandemic is becoming an easy excuse to gradually increase access to the borders.

Just last week, Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told the House of Commons Transport Committee that the ongoing effects of the pandemic are to blame for chronic travel delays at Canadian airports.

However, the conservative opposition has tried to make ArriveCan a political tool for lightning bolts, as have some US lawmakers.

“This requirement discourages travel, impedes the flow of commerce, and burdens travelers with providing private health information,” New York Republican Representative Elise Stefanik wrote in a letter last week to Secretary Mendicino and to Canada’s ambassador to the United States, Christine Hellman. .

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Persons entering Canadian territory must use the web- and smartphone-accessible application to pre-load their travel documents and immunization status.

Stefanik continued that app requests frighten some travelers, while others don’t follow through with the download process until they reach the border or airport, leading to delays at customs.

As a result, travelers are choosing to stay at home rather than facing long wait times and frustrations caused by the ArriveCan app. »

On NEXUS, New York Democratic Representative Brian Higgins wrote to Chris Magnus, the commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection, demanding that the agency prioritize reducing the backlog of applications from the US side.

Higgins wrote that the system receives between 8,000 and 15,000 requests per day, and the current waiting time for an appointment is over nine months.

He also cited recent border statistics indicating that the volume of inbound traffic to the United States is still a shadow of what it was in 2019.

Data released by the Border Agency last week shows that 250,678 passenger vehicles entered the United States through the Buffalo-Niagara Falls region in June this year, up from 462,665 in June 2019.

“These reduced operations are detrimental to the United States economy as well as the quality of life along our northern border,” Higgins said.

“The rapid processing of NEXUS applications and interviews will increase border activity as we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The current backlog of NEXUS orders has reached 350,000. NEXUS offices in the US reopened in April, while all 13 registration centers in Canada remained closed.

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The media recently reported that these offices are closed due to a dispute over whether US customs officials should be allowed to carry handguns inside NEXUS centers, but Maryscott Greenwood is not convinced.

She said the bilateral treaty governing pre-clearance between Canada and the United States already allows US border guards to keep their guns under certain conditions. The United States would like to see these terms extended to NEXUS.

Greenwood said she believes the federal government can quickly open up these centers if it makes them a priority — and hopes the campaign will help make that happen.

“They’ve heard about it from us, they’ve heard about it from members of Congress, and they’ve heard about it from their constituents,” she said.

I think it’s escalating to the point that it needs to be addressed. »

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