Quebec to Launch COVID Alert App Support, Ditch Creating Its Own

The province of Quebec has announced it will officially support Canada’s COVID Alert app, and abandon the idea of making its own exposure notification app.

According to the Montreal Gazette, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé told reporters at a last minute news conference, “Yes, we will have the application,” referring to COVID Alert.

The Quebec government didn’t give a specific timeline of when COVID Alert app support was coming, only to say support and was coming and it would no longer try to make its own app.

Back in July, Quebec launched a public consultation into COVID-19 tracking apps, citing privacy concerns. Later in August, Quebec publicly rejected Ottawa’s COVID Alert app, citing its current contact tracing measures were sufficient, while also noting it preferred a locally-made app instead.

Canada’s COVID Alert app is based on Google and Apple’s exposure notification framework, which leverages Bluetooth on devices for anonymous “handshakes” in the background. The app does not use GPS info or collect any user data. It has been vetted as safe by Canada’s privacy commissioner and provincial counterparts.

When someone tests positive for COVID-19, they can anonymously alert others that may have been in contact using COVID Alert, by obtaining a one-time use from their provincial health authority.

COVID Alert for iOS and Android can be downloaded today and work in the background. Recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other members of his cabinet, have been pushing COVID Alert downloads through social media.

Manitoba announced on Monday it would support COVID Alert this week, joining Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, Saskatchewan and New Brunswick. Alberta has said it would switch to COVID Alert, while B.C. will most likely support as well now that other provinces are quickly jumping on board (and with a provincial election next month).