Evidence of meeting #24 for International Trade in the 44th Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was app.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Denis Vinette  Vice-President, Travellers Branch, Canada Border Services Agency
Marie-Hélène Lévesque  Director General, Centre for Compliance, Enforcement and Exemptions, Public Health Agency of Canada
Clerk of the Committee  Ms. Dancella Boyi
Mark Agnew  Senior Vice-President, Policy and Government Relations, Canadian Chamber of Commerce
Mark Weber  National President, Customs and Immigration Union
David MacLachlan  Executive Director, Destination Northern Ontario
Beth Potter  President and Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Industry Association of Canada
Lynnette Bain  Vice-President, Destination Development, Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island

June 15th, 2022 / 6:50 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Baldinelli Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I'd like to thank all the stakeholders for being with us today.

It's already June 15, and 75% of the tourism revenues are going to be generated within 25% of the year, which is June onwards. In only four months, the tourism sector will look to generate 75% of the revenues they need.

You all mentioned the importance of American visitors and that the continued use of ArriveCAN is placing a great impediment on the free flow of visitors into Canada. It's serving as a disincentive to wanting to come to Canada.

Ms. Potter, do you believe that the continued use of ArriveCAN places the 2022 tourism year in jeopardy?

6:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Industry Association of Canada

Beth Potter

It certainly is having a negative impact on the number of international visitors who are arriving. The forecasting that we've seen looks at different countries and how fast we expect they will come back. Right now, the U.S. will be the last country to get back to 2019 numbers. It will take us until almost 2026 to do so.

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Baldinelli Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Excellent. In my own community again, American visitors are about 23% or 25% of our visitor base, but they account for over 50% of the revenues generated. In 2019, the best tourism year in my community, we generated $2.4 billion in tourism receipts. That's at risk because of the impact of the border and the difficulties that are being placed on the industry.

You indicated earlier that, following the budget, several programs ended and no additional dollars were provided. My rationale to the government is saying that, if you're not going to provide any additional supports to the tourism sector and you've ended the programs that the stakeholders had asked to be extended, let them do what it is that they do best, and that is to welcome people from throughout the world.

That's my call to the government. Let's stop the mandatory use of this ArriveCAN application. Would you agree with that?

6:55 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Tourism Industry Association of Canada

Beth Potter

I would. It's really hard for visitors—and we have 10 million day visitors coming across the border from the U.S. every year—to complete the ArriveCAN app, because they don't have an address in Canada to which they're going and they don't have a place where they can quarantine. They are having a really big challenge; thus, we are seeing up to 50% fewer U.S. travellers coming across for day trips as it stands right now. This includes seniors groups travelling on motorcoaches.

I was talking to people at some of our duty-free stores just last week, and whereas they would normally get 50 motorcoaches coming through their store on a weekend, they're now getting two.

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Baldinelli Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

I'll ask one last question if I can. This is for Mr. Weber.

You indicated some of the difficulties in the role that your officers are playing. You're saying that they're assuming more of an IT consultant role in assisting Americans who simply don't know about the application when they reach the border. The government indicated today that they're buying billboards. That's totally insufficient.

I wanted to ask this question. Did the government approach the union to discuss the implementation of ArriveCAN for the officers, how it would be implemented and how it would impact staff?

6:55 p.m.

National President, Customs and Immigration Union

Mark Weber

We were not consulted at all on anything that was planned or rolled out. Again, you would think that they would ask the people who work on the border every day how best to do things at the border, but that simply wasn't the case.

6:55 p.m.

Conservative

Tony Baldinelli Conservative Niagara Falls, ON

Exactly.

Thank you.

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Ms. Dhillon, I can probably squeeze in one question, if you'd like.

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

Sure. My question is for Mr. Agnew.

In your opinion, what kind of epidemiological indicators should be considered when determining lifting, or reinstating, public health measures at the border?

6:55 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Policy and Government Relations, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Mark Agnew

Sorry. You mean reinstating the ones that were lifted this past week?

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

Yes.

6:55 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Policy and Government Relations, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Mark Agnew

That's a question outside of our expertise, and I'll readily admit that. My wife would love to hear me say on the record that I get it wrong and I don't always know the answer. I'll clip and save that for her.

Kidding aside, if the government has a plan, I haven't seen it. I think it's really critical that we use the period right now for the government to talk to industry about what the plan is to live with COVID-19 in the endemic phase—if I'm allowed to use that term, as a non-epidemiological expert.

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

Would you take into account the global epidemiological context yourself, as well, putting the government aside?

6:55 p.m.

Senior Vice-President, Policy and Government Relations, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Mark Agnew

Absolutely. I think everything we do in the pandemic response should look at the global situation. That's in part, for instance, why we're saying we should be lifting things like vaccine mandates, because other countries have gone in that direction. What's going on globally is going to be important.

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

Anju Dhillon Liberal Dorval—Lachine—LaSalle, QC

Perfect. Thank you.

6:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Judy Sgro

Thank you all very much.

Thank you to our witnesses.

I have to move adjournment.