ArriveCAN-related 'issue' impacted U.S. crews at border during storm Fiona: Nova Scotia Power

WATCH: Nova Scotians are taking stock of the damage that was caused by the winds from post-tropical storm Fiona. Hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotia Power customers remain off the grid. Graeme Benjamin reports.

UPDATE: This is no longer the most recent version of this story. On Monday, Nova Scotia Power confirmed there had been some confusion with the app but that “we now know there were not any issues with ArriveCan.” To read the latest information on this and Nova Scotia Power’s explanation, click here.

Nova Scotia Power has confirmed there was an “issue related to ArriveCAN” that prompted concerns among U.S. crews that they “may not be able to cross the border” to help Canada amid post-tropical storm Fiona.

In a statement sent to Global News, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power said the issue was resolved and crews were on their way to affected areas “within a few hours.”

“When we heard from our crews that there were issues at the border, we reached out to provincial officials to see if there was any help that could be provided,” said spokesperson Jacqueline Foster in the statement.

“We understood there would be outreach to appropriate federal officials that might be able to help. Within a few hours the crews were on the road to support Nova Scotians.”

The province of Nova Scotia and the state of Maine have a memorandum of understanding that allows them to provide mutual assistance in managing an emergency or natural disaster. However, the Nova Scotia premier’s office told Global News earlier Sunday that the arrival of the U.S. power crews was delayed due to the ArriveCAN app.

“I do know that there was a situation where some crews from Maine were having an issue at the border,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston told reporters during a Sunday morning press conference.

“We became aware of that, we alerted the federal government. My understanding is that that was dealt with pretty quickly. But … there was an issue to begin with.”

ArriveCAN is a controversial mandatory COVID-19 pre-screening tool for people arriving in Canada — one the federal government is reportedly set to make optional at the end of the month.

Alex Cohen, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, denied there was any issue at the border — saying the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) had “no record of such a situation occurring at any Port of Entry into Canada.”

Cohen said that CBSA officers at both a regional level and individual border crossings were told to streamline the process of American power crews crossing the border to help.

“This erroneous story likely stems from a misunderstanding,” Cohen said.

In a subsequent phone call following the federal government’s denial, the premier’s office stood by the allegation that there had indeed been an issue at the border. Nova Scotia Power also acknowledged that there had been concerns raised by the U.S. crew.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair, meanwhile, said in a Sunday evening press conference that “any delay was, quite frankly, inconsequential.”

While he said he “wasn’t at the border” and couldn’t speak to specific interactions that may have occurred there, he acknowledged that he was “advised that there was a concern” at the border.

But, Blair added, “before any steps could be taken, the matter was resolved.”

 

Post-tropical storm Fiona made landfall early Saturday morning, bringing severe wind, heavy rain, and leaving hundreds of thousands without power across eastern Canada.

The fierce storm toppled a number of trees across the region, with some falling into power lines, cars and houses, and there have been multiple reports of blocked and washed-out roads as crews begin assessing damage in areas where the storm has already passed.

As of 6 a.m. AT on Sunday, nearly 267,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were still affected by outages, 82,414 Maritime Electric customers remained in the dark and more than 20,600 homes and businesses in New Brunswick were without power, with some provincial utility companies warning it could be days before the lights are back on for everyone.

Newfoundland Power reported outages affecting more than 3,600 customers, as high-end tropical storm force winds knocked down trees and power lines, although Environment Canada said winds would diminish this morning.

— With files from Global News’ Alex Cooke and The Canadian Press

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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