Albertan Government Refuses to Allow Federal Exposure Notification App to Operate in the Province

Carrie Tait, the Globe and Mail:

Alberta’s contact tracing app has been used to track down people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus just 19 times since it launched this spring, revealing another weakness in the province’s strategy to thwart the infection.

Premier Jason Kenney has rejected calls to adopt the federal exposure notification app, insisting the province’s tool is superior because it is folded into Alberta’s contact tracing network. But Alberta’s virus investigators are so overwhelmed by the explosion of COVID-19 that they have stopped contact tracing, save for high-priority cases.

This article was published November 16. In the past week, we have broken our own record for the number of new cases nearly every day. Still, the provincial government has generally refused to implement tighter restrictions on gatherings, mandate mask use, or come up with supports for businesses and their employees so they can temporarily close. Teachers are in classrooms with more students than they could handle if there was not a pandemic, and are not being adequately equipped or supported for the additional measures required. Many businesses and organizations are requiring that employees return to in-person work, albeit while wearing masks in common areas, even for jobs that can be done from home.1

This, despite its claim that this is “our last chance to avoid more restrictive measures”, is where we are at in Alberta. Our premiere won’t allow the federal exposure notification app to function in this province, even though it uses the joint iOS and Android framework, and has stood by its own unreliable tracing app. Instead, as of today, it continues to portray this as a problem that can be helped by washing doorknobs and pet leashes more frequently. I am frustrated — I feel powerless to do anything to help, other than the measures I have already taken — but I am also deeply ashamed to be living in this province. The federal and provincial apps can be run concurrently, too. There is no good reason for this harmful refusal to allow the federal app to work in Alberta, at the very very least.

  1. As with everything I write, these views are my own and do not reflect my employer. I feel extremely lucky to work for an organization with leadership that is sensible and excellent. ↥︎