ArriveCAN App is ‘Ageist,’ Says Senior Citizen Advocacy Group

The Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), an advocacy group for older Canadians, has raised several concerns against the federal ArriveCAN app and argued that it is “ageist” — reports The Star).

CARP’s comments follow complaints about ArriveCAN from 69-year-old Montreal resident Dorothy Lipovenko and several other senior citizens.

Lipovenko, for one, doesn’t own a cell phone and doesn’t want to buy one. She and her husband were able to fill in their ArriveCAN information on their home computer before leaving for a recent grocery trip. However, that was a pretty short trip.

If Lipovenko or her husband want to travel outside Canada for more than 72 hours, they’ll either need to get a phone or use a public computer to complete their ArriveCAN filing before crossing back into Canada.

Anyone who doesn’t complete the ArriveCAN app before re-entering Canada, seniors included, gets a one-time exemption, but they can potentially face delays at the border, quarantine orders regardless of vaccination status, and even fines on subsequent entries.

“Basically, we’re restricted,” Lipovenko said. ArriveCAN was introduced as a mandatory measure at Canadian borders to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, but it remains in place even as Ottawa eases other regulations across the country.

“What happens if this becomes permanent? Will we have to buy a service that we neither want nor use in order to be able to have the most basic travel outside the U.S.?” Lipovenko asked. “What about people who are pensioners on fixed incomes … do they need this added expense at this particular point in time, especially with inflation?”

CARP brought up several financial and accessibility concerns regarding the ArriveCAN app.

“There’s a lot of ageist presumptions made in how easy it can be,” said Anthony Quinn, chief community officer, noting CARP has received concerns from multiple older adults about the app.

Travellers with accessibility issues can provide their information on paper and answer questions verbally, but only if they have a cognitive or physical disability under the World Health Organization’s definition.

Anyone else has to provide their information digitally, and CARP noted that not every older adult has access to the support networks or a computing device they don’t own that would allow them to do so.

Earlier this year, Manitoba Conservative MP Raquel Dancho told the House of Commons that ArriveCAN “is so difficult that some seniors are having to cancel trips to funerals, weddings and the birth of grandchildren. They are facing massive fines and mandatory quarantine, all because of a government app.”

The Customs and Immigration Union, which represents Canada’s border workers, previously said that the ArriveCAN app is causing delays at the border. What’s more, delays are especially prevalent with older travellers.

Some privacy experts have lately even claimed that ArriveCAN violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.