Mayors of Canada's border communities, including Jim Diodati of Niagara Falls, Ontario, are also joining the chorus. He told Canada's National Observer at an Ottawa news conference last month that requiring use of the app or online portal to the Canada Border Services Agency has outlived its usefulness.
"We all supported the federal government with all the restrictions at the border," Diodati said then. "But the science is now telling us that having these restrictions at the border (is) no longer serving us."
In addition, the two international bodies governing border crossings across the Niagara River fear major financial problems if normal traffic levels do not resume soon. Ron Rienas, general manager of the Peace Bridge Authority, said crossings remain 44% below normal, even after the Canadian government lifted testing requirements in April. Similar declines are reported by the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, he said.
"So people aren't crossing the border, even though they can," Rienas said.
In a submission to Parliament last month, Rienas said the continuing requirements have had a "devastating impact on our toll revenues, the tourism industry and other border dependent businesses like Duty Free stores." He said most U.S. travelers are unfamiliar with ArriveCan and must often complete the requirements at the border, resulting in inordinately long processing times and backups.
Rienas also told Parliament the technology discriminates against seniors unfamiliar with computers and smart phones, and that it discourages discretionary travel familiar to a border community.
"The nature of this binational community is being able to cross frequently to visit friends or family, for dinner, a show, a winery tour, a baseball game, shopping, beach, etc., without going through the process and inconvenience of having to file with ArriveCan each and every time," he said. "People just won't bother to cross the border for discretionary travel as they have for decades."
Higgins, meanwhile, noted the downturn in bridge traffic also affects U.S. interests, including airports in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, pro sports franchises and retailers used to a binational economy. He suggests Trudeau and President Biden personally discuss solutions to the problem, since any effort below their level has so far failed.
"After all," he said, "we're not enemies."