Canada preparing to launch nationwide COVID-19 contact tracing app

Canada preparing to launch nationwide COVID-19 contact tracing app
Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press
PM Justin Trudeau has announced the federal government is planning to launch a new nationwide contact tracing app in the coming weeks.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that the federal government is preparing to test a new contact tracing app, with plans for a nationwide launch in the coming weeks.

During his daily press conference, Trudeau said that the government’s focus is shifting to new safety measures as more Canadians return to public spaces.

“As we start loosening some restrictions, we have to strengthen other measures so that we don’t lose the progress we’ve made,” said the prime minister from outside of Rideau Cottage in Ottawa. “As some people start heading back to work, testing and contact tracing is crucial.”

Trudeau sees the development of this app – which has been a collaborative effort between the Canadian Digital Service, Shopify, Blackberry, and the Government of Ontario – as an “important step forward” towards minimizing the risk of COVID-19, whiling allowing for a safer reopening of the economy.

The main purpose of this new mobile app is to notify users if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 can anonymously upload their status to a national network. Other users who have the app and have been in close proximity with that person who contracted the virus, will then be notified.

“The notification will encourage them to reach out to their local health authorities,” said Trudeau.

Trudeau emphasized that this made-in-Canada app will be “completely voluntary” and is up to individuals whether they choose to download the app or not, however, he suggested more users will make help the app better serve its purpose.

“The app will be most effective when as many people as possible have it,” claimed Trudeau.

Many Canadians may see red flags that this app is a breach of privacy, but Trudeau stressed that this is not the case.

The prime minister highlighted that the app will not share, store, or collect any personal information from users. He also added that no geographical location services will be used by the new mobile app.

“The privacy of Canadians will be fully respected,” stated the prime minister.

According to the government, the app will begin testing in Ontario soon, with more information expected to come from the province’s Premier, Doug Ford, later on Thursday.

Trudeau said other provinces, including British Columbia, are currently working with the government to get things set up, with the prime minister hoping that the app “will be available to everyone in the coming weeks.”

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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