What should have been a weekend getaway to Grand Forks ended up getting Ramiro Matias and his wife 14 days locked inside their Gimli home instead.
“By doing all the right things, I’m sitting at home kind of punished, because of a glitch in an app,” Matias told Global News.
It’s an issue many Canadians have reported. A traveller entering Canada by land, rail or marine vessel is required to upload proof of their vaccination using ArriveCan.
Matias says he followed the federal government’s rules. He even made double copies of important paperwork. But a technology issue ultimately landed him in a mandatory two week quarantine period.
“We were both double-vaccinated, both stayed under the 72 hours. We did everything that we could do to get through the border easily…but we had a glitch with the app.”
“I tried to show him the app on the screen but it wouldn’t open,” he said.
“They said if you don’t have the verification or the reference number from the app, I cannot let you in without giving you a 14-day quarantine.”
The apps unreliability problem has been brought up in The House of Commons by conservative public safety critic Raquel Dancho.
“The ArriveCan app has crashed for some users. Many can’t access it because of poor cell service. Many seniors don’t have a smartphone and for others, costly data plans are out of reach,” Dancho said during Question Period.
The federal Public Safety Minister, Marco Mendicino said he was aware of the issue.
“I’ve spoken with the CBSA so that there’s additional guidance to provide the opportunity for travellers to provide the information that is necessary on ArriveCan in person at the borders,” Mendicino said.
In a statement the Canadian Border Services Agency says: “Border services officers can help land travellers comply with the requirement to submit their information digitally, by allowing the traveller to return to the U.S. to take the time to complete the ArriveCan form and re-enter Canada after submitting it.”
They also say when possible, travellers can complete their ArriveCan submission upon arrival.
But that option was not given to Matias, who now faces another week in isolation.
“I had to explain to my employer I have to be stuck at home and can’t go into work,” he said. “Right now we’re getting groceries delivered, medications delivered.”
The app has been downloaded more than 4.3 million times since it was launched in April of 2020, according to the CBSA.
“I’m not trying to change the law. We were abiding by all the rules. We just came into a glitch with the app.”
For now, he says, he’s spending the next half of his 14-day isolation completing housework on his to-do list.