September 18, 2020/Ottawa, Ontario/- Over the past months, Canadians have been following public health advice and doing their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. As we safely restart our economy and build a more resilient Canada, we need to continue to work together to contain the virus, help prevent potential future waves, and keep Canadians safe and healthy.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Premier of New Brunswick, Blaine Higgs, today announced that people in New Brunswick can now receive one-time keys from their health authorities to use with COVID Alert, Canada’s COVID-19 exposure notification app. The app helps notify users if they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The COVID Alert app is free and voluntary, and is another tool to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Users who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a one-time key from their health authority that they can enter into the app. When the key is entered, COVID Alert will notify other users who may have come in close contact with that person for at least 15 minutes, and direct them on next steps based on their provincial public health advice.
To safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of all Canadians, the app uses strong measures to protect any data it collects, and does not track a user’s location or collect personally identifiable information. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada was consulted on the development of COVID Alert, and supports its use by Canadians.
COVID Alert is available for download to all Canadians, and one-time keys provided by health authorities are now available to the people of New Brunswick, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Saskatchewan. The Government of Canada continues to work with the other provinces and territories to bring their health authorities on board in the coming weeks and months.
“The COVID Alert app is a tool that New Brunswickers can use to help protect themselves, their loved ones, and their communities from COVID-19. As more people use it, we can slow the spread of the virus and help prevent future waves. We will continue to work with other provinces and territories to bring their health authorities on board so as many Canadians as possible can benefit from the app.”
“We all need to keep doing our part to keep our loved ones healthy and safe. This is an additional tool to help limit the spread of COVID-19.”
“People in New Brunswick expect us to work together and do everything we can to continue keeping them healthy and safe. This is exactly what we’ve done and keep doing, and today, we are making the COVID-19 Alert app available in New Brunswick. This app will help keep each other safe and I encourage everyone to download it today.”
- Since launching, there have been more than 2.5 million downloads of the app.
- COVID Alert is available for Canadians as a free download from the App Store or the Google Play Store. When a user downloads the app, their phone sends out randomly generated codes via Bluetooth to other smartphone users who have the app and are within approximately two metres. If they test positive for the virus, users can choose to upload their random codes to a central server located in Canada. Once uploaded, the random codes are stored on the server for 15 days, after which they are automatically deleted.
- Since the app first launched, more than 260 people have voluntarily input their one-time key to notify others around them after testing positive for COVID-19.
- Canadians who want to know more about COVID Alert can call 1-833-784-4397.
- The Government of Canada established the COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council to ensure the app meets the highest standards in public health outcomes, privacy, and technology. The members of the Council reflect Canada’s regional and cultural diversity, and cover a wide range of expertise, including health, privacy, data governance, science, and innovation. Their advice informs the implementation and rollout of the app.
- BlackBerry and the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security completed a security assessment of the app before it was launched. All data provided to the app is securely stored and protected.
- COVID Alert is a collaboration between Health Canada, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the Canadian Digital Service, and the Ontario Digital Service. It builds upon an exposure notification solution developed by Shopify volunteers in coordination with the non-profit Linux Foundation Public Health. It is also the work of a team of developers from across the country.
- As part of our commitment to open and transparent government, the Canadian Digital Service is making its work on the app’s development and testing available on Github.
- The Canada COVID App is another digital tool that supports Canadians. It allows users to track their symptoms while receiving the latest updates and accessing trusted resources.