The Department of Health blamed Canadians’ lack of trust in government on the failure of the Covid Alert app rollout.
According to Blacklock’s Reporter, department staff wrote in a report that a majority of Canadians didn’t trust Ottawa to not collect their private information.
“Trust in government is clearly an issue. When asked if they believe the government does not collect their personal information and that it does not allow the Government of Canada to determine their location more than half of survey respondents, 52%, did not believe the government,” the report read.
“In another study Canadians who indicated they had not downloaded the app cited ‘not trusting the privacy of the app or the government’ (34%) and not wanting government to access location data (29%) among the top three reasons for not downloading the app.”
Earlier this month, the federal government announced it would be shutting down its Covid Alert apppermanently two years after it was launched.
While the app was active, only 21% of mobile phone users downloaded the software despite prime minister Justin Trudeau’s marketing efforts.
“Health experts say if enough people sign up this app can help prevent future outbreaks of Covid-19 in Canada,” Trudeau claimed during its launch in Jun. 2020.
“If we can talk about a 50% uptake for example, or more, then it becomes extraordinarily useful.”
Despite the lack of pick up, the federal government faced calls to expand the program in May 2021 after an advisory council suggested that the tracking app could be used for other purposes.
“The Government of Canada has begun to broadly consider how the Covid Alert app could potentially extend beyond a government service to Canadians and the public health systems towards a tool that will also support Canadians and businesses in our economic, social and mental health recovery and restoration,” the advisory council claimed.
Earlier this month, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam admitted to reporters that the app wasn’t being utilized enough and had to be shut down.
“Although the app strictly adhered to privacy principles and was seen by many internal and external key informants as one of its key strengths, Canadians’ privacy concerns and distrust of the government potentially collecting personal or location information through the app was also seen as one of its biggest challenges,” the Department of Health report wrote.