Majority of Canadians not using government’s COVID Alert app: study

The Trudeau government’s heavily marketed COVID Alert app is not being used by the majority of Canadians.

Research from York University reveals that the app is having little impact on slowing the spread of COVID-19 because the majority of Canadians did not download the app.

Director of York University’s Digital Global Health and Humanitarianism Lab Researchers Jennie Phillips told CTV News that in order for the app to work, Canadians need to use it but some people have a fear of using these types of apps.

“The perceptions around these risks actually can be bigger or different than the actual risks associated with using this app, so in many cases these perceptions can override any efforts that are taken to minimize the actual risks,” Phillips said.

The app cost the government $480,000 to develop and $16 million for marketing. In previous statements, Trudeau had aimed to have 50% of Canadians download the app.

“We know solid data is the foundation for making the right public policy decisions,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said when announcing the app in June. “This is an approach we are confident is going to make a big difference.”

In a submission to the Senate finance committee earlier this year, the Public Health Agency of Canada said that the app was downloaded on 6,361,424 cell phones, or just 18.8% of all Canadian cell phones.

With few Canadians downloading the app and even fewer using it as intended, health experts have called the COVID Alert app “completely useless.” 

Despite claims from the federal government that the app will protect Canadians’ information, the Office of Canada’s Privacy Commissioner has stated there is a chance anonymity may not be maintained.

Privacy concerns have been the main reason why people have consistently refused government COVID-19 tracing apps around the world.

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