Here’s What Canada’s ‘COVID Alert’ app (beta) Looks Like

[UPDATE – July 31]: The app is now publicly available. Go get it!

On Wednesday, Health Canada finally released a beta (test) version of the Canadian ‘COVID Alert’ exposure notification app.

I have been waiting for a couple of months to finally be able to get this set up once Apple and Google announced they would be building exposure notifications in to their operating systems, and it’s finally here (if you are willing to jump through some hoops and help test it out).

Let’s take a look!

When you first launch the app, you’re given a bunch of info right off the top. You’ll also have to accept exchanging exposure tokens with other phones, as well as receipt of exposure notifications, and then standard iOS app notifications as well. Here’s what the setup screens look like:

Once you’ve got everything activated, there’s not a whole lot to do besides look at the menus and edit your information.

I was informed via email they will be testing what an ‘exposure’ looks like in the app over the next 2-4 days, so if that happens, I will definitely share that information!

There’s not much to the app to be honest (which is a good thing), but there is a little more information to go over.

In the meantime, here’s some information provided under ‘How it works’:

These exposure notification apps (one per country, by rule) are meant to be for public health reasons only, so they’re very minimal, and outside of use in conjunction with your doctor, you won’t really notice it on your phone.

The only information the app collects and is able to use is a set of randomly generated ‘codes’ from the phones of others you interact with, and your phone sends out a similar set of ‘codes’ to people around you. No private information is stored or sent anywhere, like location or your personal details.

If you test positive, your doctor will give you a one-time use code which you enter in to the app, and this (if you choose to do it) will notify anybody else who has the app that you were nearby them and may have exposed them to the virus, because their phone has stored your ‘code’ from while you were near each other.

It’s a pretty incredible, secure system, and I’m really eager to have it see wide use in Canada and around the world, on Android and on iOS, over the coming months and possibly years.

When I hear more about the public release, I will post updates here!

Proposition 4: Health Care

This question is REALLY tough for me, mostly because it exposes some flaws in my understanding of how these systems are run. My understanding is the health care is currently administered on a provincial level, and most of my basic procedures and medical appointments are paid for by OHIP (the Ontario Health Insurance Plan). This is a public sector system, but private companies can handle all kinds of procedures which are then billed to OHIP.

I think the balance between private and public that we have in Ontario is pretty good, so I thought that things should pretty much stay the way they are (I certainly wouldn’t advocate for more private health care). I will say clearly that I’m also very ignorant of these things though, other then hearing about proposals for national drug coverage (Pharmacare), which I’m also fully in support of. This question/answer didn’t really help me at all, because it doesn’t give you any information about how much the federal government determines these things, and how much the private sector is actually involved in health care in Canada.

Summary: This is not the worst question, but with no context or information, I find it really hard to come to any conclusion other than to say I’m happy with how things are in Ontario, and we have some balance of private/public health care.

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