Health Minister details pushback towards potential Canada-wide COVID-19 contact tracing app

Some jurisdictions would prefer to conduct contact tracing "the old-fashioned way"

Health Minister Patty Hajdu says the government’s plan to recommend a single COVID-19 contact tracing app, once it is developed, is facing pushback.

This comes after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent comments stating that the government is working with several companies, including Apple and Google, to develop a Canada-wide contact tracing app.

Trudeau did not offer a timeline regarding the release of a potential COVID-19 contact tracing app, but indicated that Canadians would be advised to download it once it is available.

Hajdu told reporters on June 1st that some jurisdictions in Canada would prefer to keep conducting contact tracing “the old-fashioned way.” This refers to manual contact tracing, which involves volunteers for public health agencies making phone calls to people who may have come into contact with someone infected with COVID-19.

She said that the government is in talks with provinces about a digital means of contact tracing, but stated that an app would only be considered effective if people actually used it.

“As the minister of health of course, having a digital contact tracing app would likely be helpful. One of the things that I think from a health perspective we’re keeping our eye on is the usefulness of an app if there is not a high take-up,” she said.

She noted that some regions, like Alberta, have already launched their own apps, and that these apps could be bridged together somehow. Hajdu stated that regardless of the path the government chooses to follow, the app must be something that Canadians are comfortable using.

It’s interesting to note that Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien has yet to be consulted about any potential contact tracing app. This indicates that perhaps a government-recommended contact tracing app won’t be released anytime in the near future.

Source: CTV News