Ontario plans to extend its state of emergency until mid-July

App users will see a notification like this if they are exposed to COVID-19

App users will see a notification like this if they are exposed to COVID-19

A new COVID-19 contact tracing app, being tested in Ontario, will soon be available to download for free.

Launching a privacy-first exposure notification app to alert Ontarians when they may have been exposed to COVID-19. "One is the national app that everyone can download that will be customized for each province, but it will be one app that, whether you download it and live in Ontario and travel to B.C. or travel to the Northwest Territories, if that becomes an option, it'll work everywhere across the country".

"You can't manage what you can't measure". That's why our government has been relentless in building our testing and contact tracing capacity to track, trace, and contain the invisible enemy we face.

"We need people to download this app - it's going to protect us, it's going to protect our families".

"Extending these emergency orders gives our frontline health care providers the necessary flexibility to rapidly respond to urgent needs and protect our most vulnerable", Premier Doug Ford said in a release.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said the province has been doing case and contact tracing throughout the pandemic but often using out-of-date systems. The app should be available by July 2nd.

In addition to the mobile app, the province has also committed to "ensuring that all cases, and close contacts of positive cases, are identified early, reached quickly, with contacts advised to get tested and followed up with for up to 14 days".

They will also be providing additional staffing resources to support public health units.

The provincial government is supporting public health units with up to 1,700 additional staff from Statistics Canada to assist in contact tracing, and it is modernizing the integrated Public Health Information System with a new COVID-19 case and contact management system.

This will allow public health units to perform their other critical functions, including inspections of food premises and water in recreational facilities, and vaccinations. The company's response wasn't of much help, sending a boilerplate message directing the question to the Canadian government.

One of the overarching principles is ensuring the privacy and security for all users, which is why the government will leverage BlackBerry volunteer expertise to audit the security and privacy of the application, in addition to the province's internal security reviews.

University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist, an expert in technology law, said using Bluetooth technology instead of Global Positioning System will be more accurate in terms of identifying people who were actually in close proximity to someone with COVID-19.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the app will notify users if they have been exposed to the virus and its use will be "completely voluntary".

Ontario is also implementing a new user-friendly case and contact management system that will integrate with COVID-19 laboratory results from the Ontario Laboratory Information System (OLIS) data, making current processes significantly more efficient and reducing the administrative burden for public health unit staff.

The province is watching data from a contact tracing app Alberta is using, Williams said.

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