Trudeau announces new national app for coronavirus contact tracing

Jun 18 2020, 8:15 am

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada will be launching a national app for COVID-19 contact tracing.

The app is being developed by Shopify, Blackberry, and the Province of Ontario.

Trudeau said the app will be testing in Ontario before rolling out nationally and it will be voluntary, anonymous, and no personal information will be shared.

“Canadians’ privacy will be respected at all times,” he added.

According to the prime minister, the more people use it, the better the app will work.

The function is simple: if someone tests positive for COVID-19, it will be registered in a database, and those who have been in close contact will be notified in the app.

No location services will be used.

Trudeau said this is a helpful tool for Canada’s contact tracing.

The app will be the same for all provinces, and “you can download it, and forget about it,” said Trudeau.

There will be no data retained by any company other than the federal government.

Trudeau said the app will be available nationally in early July.

As of Thursday, Canada’s COVID-19 numbers have surpassed 100,000 known cases.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to detail an enhanced COVID-19 case and contact management strategy during his daily press conference this afternoon. He is expected to announce further details on the app at the time.

In Alberta, the ABTraceTogether app has been available since May.

The app was created to assist in Alberta Health Service’s contact tracing efforts, and a step to detect COVID-19 cases before they can spread to other unsuspecting Albertans.

The Alberta app is also entirely voluntary, and uses Bluetooth to determine if a user has come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. Alongside the app, contact tracing is done by contacting all people who a coronavirus patient remembers being in close proximity to.

It was noted that the app does not track anyone’s geographic location, and that the government has contacted the Information and Privacy Commissioner about it, and no concerns were raised.

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