Ottawa launches COVID-19 alert app for Ontario, Alberta follows
The Canadian government launched its coronavirus exposure notification app in Ontario on July 31.
The ‘COVID Alert’ app aims at curbing the spread of the virus by notifying its user of possible exposure to another user who has tested positive for COVID-19, the government of Canada’s website stated.
The app’s launch in Ontario was delayed by three weeks because the government wanted to take time to make the smartphone app user-friendly, the government said.
“COVID Alert does not collect any personal information, health information, or location data,” said a government report on the best global practices to protect privacy.
The app is free to download for both Android and Apple users.
“We’ve heard people say they can’t afford to add another expense while the app is free of cost,” said Ontario Treasury Board’s press secretary Sebastian Skamski.
However, the website specifies users can only download the app if they have Apple or Android phones made in the last five years with a new operating system.
“Accessibility is a big concern for people who are older, who don’t have the newest smartphones,” said cybersecurity expert Sumit Bhatia. “People who are coming from marginalized groups or low-income groups where we know that the COVID-19 impact is greater.”
Alberta followed Ontario in using the nationwide coronavirus exposure app.
Alberta’s spokesperson for the health minister Steve Buick confirmed to CBC on Aug. 8 the province will switch from its “ABTraceTogether” app to the federal COVID Alert app.
“As businesses open their doors and schools prepare for September, we need to help stop the spread and keep others safe by downloading this COVID Alert app,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford during the launch of the app.