Canadians seek Charter damages against Feds for ArriveCAN Enforcement

TORONTO- The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedom announces that a lawsuit was filed on behalf of Canadians who were fined or forced into quarantine for refusing to disclose vaccination status via the federal government’s ArriveCAN software. The lawsuit alleges that the federal government breached the rights of the plaintiffs as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and that they are owed monetary damages as a result.

ArriveCAN was initially launched in April 2020 as an alleged pandemic management tool. The federal government claimed that it would streamline the border-crossing process by allowing travellers to upload their quarantine details. Eventually, ArriveCAN’s use became mandatory for air and land travellers and by July 5, 2021; the federal government required all travellers to disclose their Covid-19 vaccination status using the software. Travellers failing to use ArriveCAN could potentially face a maximum fine of $750,000 or be imprisoned for up to 6 months, or both.

While some of the plaintiffs were willing to disclose their vaccination status through other means, they all shared privacy concerns with respect to ArriveCAN potentially sharing their collected personal medical information widely with other government departments and agencies, police forces and even other countries. The Plaintiffs also share concerns with respect to having their vaccination status searched upon entry to Canada and being required to use software, in order to freely enter their own country without fine and quarantine.

One of the Plaintiffs, Ms. Joanne Walsh a retired Canadian, who resides in Burlington, Ontario travelled to the US on a short trip in the summer of 2022 to take advantage of the re-opened border. Upon her return to Canada, she presented a vaccine certificate to the border agents. The agents refused to accept this certificate and demanded Ms. Walsh use the ArriveCAN app. When she refused, border agents issued her a ticket and ordered her into 14-day quarantine, despite the fact she was a “vaccinated traveller” (see video of incident here. Video source: True North). Thereafter, the Public Health Agency of Canada sent agents to her residence during this period to check her compliance with quarantine.

“Privacy of Canadians is one of the fundamental rights which our Charter protects”, says Hatim Kheir, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs. “ArriveCAN’s disclaimer that Canadians’ private information could potentially be widely shared is a serious concern to the Plaintiffs and should be for all of us. With the introduction of this unprecedented requirement upon Canadians to enter Canada in order to allegedly address the pandemic, it is vitally important that the health of our rights and freedoms are examined in the process”.

The lawsuit will proceed in the Federal Court.

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