Omar Alghabra, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister attends a news conference on the Iran plane crash, Wednesday January 15, 2020 in Ottawa. The federal government says it will contribute to a national campaign to help cover funeral costs for families affected by the deadly plane crash in Iran earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Ottawa: Transport Minister Omar Alghabra has told the House of Commons transport committee that COVID-19 is to blame for airport delays.

The minister says Canadians have witnessed significant disruptions in the economy because of the pandemic and that the government is working on tackling those issues.

Alghabra says it is labour shortages that are primarily contributing to delays.

In his testimony, Alghabra also defended the ArriveCan app, saying it has helped reduce wait times by digitizing the process.

Last month, due to a glitch, ArriveCan instructed about 10,200 travellers to quarantine for 14 days when they didn’t have to.

Bianca Wylie, a partner at Digital Public, questioned why the app would be automating those decisions in the first place, rather than sticking to the information-collection mandate it was launched with.

Conservative MP Melissa Lantsman asked Alghabra if the federal government bears any responsibility for the delays at airports that have wreaked havoc on travellers for months.

“I blame it on COVID,” Alghabra replied.