Quebec will not ask its citizens to download the federal COVID-19 notification app for now, officials are expected to announce this afternoon.
The government told Radio-Canada it believes the tracing system it is using now is adequate, given that there has been a slowdown in the number of cases reported in the province.
There are also questions regarding how many Quebecers would download the app.
The government said it would not be opposed to changing its mind if outbreaks of the illness worsen.
The announcement is expected at a 1 p.m. ET news conference, when Health Minister Christian Dubé, Public Health Director Horacio Arruda and Éric Caire, minister responsible for digital transformation, will address the media.
Launched by the federal government on July 31 — and so far only operational in Ontario — the COVID Alert app is designed to warn users if they’ve spent at least 15 minutes in the past two weeks within two metres of another user who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
The app, which works on Apple and Android devices made in the last five years, has received positive reviews from privacy advocates, but myths persist about the data it collects — and doesn’t collect.
Experts in both technology and public health stress that the more people who use it, the better it will be.
In mid-August, Caire pointed to an online survey that showed 76 per cent of Quebecers believed a mobile application would be useful as an additional tool in the fight against COVID-19.
But the Commission des institutions, the province’s parliamentary committee responsible for studying the usefulness of the app, said the disadvantages of the app outweighed the advantages.
“Quebec’s legal framework is inadequate in terms of data and personal information protection and access to information, informed consent and the fight against discrimination,” the committee said in its report.
Committee members acknowledged that almost all of the 18 experts who testified at the hearings expressed serious reservations about the effectiveness and reliability of these technologies.
The populations most vulnerable to the virus are those who would have the least access to applications, the report said.