More staff needed to reduce border delays, union says

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More staff needed to reduce border delays, union says

According to the head of a union representing customs and immigration officers, the fact that the ArriveCAN app will now be optional does not reduce delays at Canada's borders.

The President of the Customs and Immigration Officers Union says long lines at the border won't necessarily disappear magically when using the ArriveCAN app becomes optional, effective Saturday.

Mark Weber, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union, said Tuesday that because of a chronic shortage labour, there will be significant delays at Canada's border crossings if the number of trips begins to increase significantly.

Mr. Weber spoke to the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade, which is looking at the potential impacts of the ArriveCAN app on certain Canadian sectors. The app was designed to provide travel and public health information before and after people enter Canada.

The Cabinet Order that mandates proof of vaccinations at the border and the use of ArriveCAN for inbound travelers expires Friday evening, and the Government confirmed on Monday that this Order will not be renewed.

Weber says the Canada Border Services Agency needs thousands more officers to carry out its mandate. He therefore urges the government to hire more staff to ensure the movement of people and goods across borders, and not rely on technology like the ArriveCAN app which he says is poorly designed.

“I urge the government and the agency to address the severe labor shortage now. ;work that affects border services throughout the country. The reality is really dark.

—Mark Weber, National President of the Customs and Immigration Union

Mr. Weber contends that, despite the best will of its members, the Border Services Agency cannot adequately curb the smuggling of dangerous goods into Canada.

This summer, he said, at some of the busiest land border crossings, the agency sometimes had to choose between properly screening goods and screening travelers.

Separately, the president of the Border Duty Free Association reminded committee members on Tuesday that duty-free shops at land border crossings were forced to close almost completely during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. p>

Without exaggerating, we have been the hardest hit of the hardest hit, said Barbara Barrett, the association's chief executive.

Over the past several months, as the Canadian economy has recovered, duty-free sales have remained well below pre-pandemic levels, she argued. Barrett attributes this crisis to federal health restrictions and the mandatory use of the ArriveCAN app at duty-free shops.

She argued that many American seniors found the ArriveCAN app too complex and shunned it, while others either didn't have a smartphone or needed help from duty free shop staff to use it.

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