November 26, 2020
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 continue to deal with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic, we need to work together to keep people safe and healthy and contain the virus, so we can build a more resilient Canada.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Premier of the Northwest Territories, Caroline Cochrane, today announced that people in the Northwest Territories can now receive one-time keys from their health authority 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 or territorial 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 continues to be engaged on 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 the Northwest Territories, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
“The COVID Alert app is a tool that the people of the Northwest Territories 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.”
The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
“Our biggest priority is protecting the health and well-being of our residents and communities. As cases continue to rise across the country, the COVID Alert app will help limit the spread of the virus in the Northwest Territories and provide comfort and peace of mind to residents as we continue to navigate this difficult time. I strongly encourage all residents to download the app.”
The Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Premier of the Northwest Territories
“Already downloaded by more than 5.5 million Canadians, this app is an additional tool we can use to protect ourselves and our loved ones. I encourage you to download it and input the one-time key to notify others should you get COVID-19.”
The Hon. Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health
“Congratulations to the people of the Northwest Territories who now have access to the full functionality of COVID Alert. This secure digital tool is an important part of our public health efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, and I encourage all Canadians to download it today.”
The Hon. Joyce Murray, Minister of Digital Government
“People in the Northwest Territories expect us to work together and do everything we can to continue keeping them healthy and safe. This is exactly what we are doing and we are pleased to make the COVID-19 Alert app available in the Northwest Territories. This app will help keep each other safe and I encourage everyone to download it today.”
The Hon. Dominic LeBlanc, President of the Queen’s Privy Council and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
“Download the app today. It’s free, it’s secure and it was developed with key privacy considerations in mind. Let’s use every tool in the toolkit to help keep our loved ones and neighbors safe during the pandemic.”
Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories
- Since launching, there have been more than 5.5 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 6,200 people have voluntarily input their one-time key to notify others around them after testing positive for COVID-19.
- 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. Council members 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.
- The COVID Alert app is continually re-assessed and updated as it rolls out across the country based on provincial and territorial needs, user research, and testing. Users who already have the app downloaded should keep both the app and their device’s operating system up to date.
- 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-profitLinux Foundation Public Health.
- 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.