United Nurses of Alberta strongly urges the provincial government to immediately adopt the federal government’s COVID Alert smartphone app in this province.
Contact tracing and exposure notification are key parts of an aggressive infection control effort. The COVID Alert app appears to work well and has widespread acceptance by Canadian provinces and territories. Only two provinces, Alberta and British Columbia have not yet adopted the app.
Unlike British Columbia, which has implemented its own app, the Alberta government announced in early August it was abandoning its ABTraceTogether app after design flaws resulted in low uptake among Albertans.
Since then, however, nothing has happened despite a dramatic increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Alberta to levels higher than during the spring pandemic lockdown, which helped reduce COVID-19 infections for a time.
With COVID-19 on the rise after schools reopened and the Thanksgiving holiday and the provincial government unwilling to contemplate a return to previous lockdown measures, it is imperative to protect the public by using available tools like the COVID Alert app, UNA believes.
UNA has also noted that by using an app available nationwide, more effective measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through interprovincial travel are also possible. More than 4.5 million Canadians have already loaded the COVID Alert app on their smartphones.
The Alberta government’s excuse for the delay of more than two full months since it said it would adopt the federal app has been the need to somehow transition the small number of Albertans who downloaded the ABTraceTogether app to the national app.
UNA believes this is not necessary since smartphone apps take only seconds to download and because the provincial government’s delay is needlessly hampering the fight against COVID-19 and blocking access to a useful tool for Albertans.
The Alberta government should put aside the partisanship evident in Government House Leader Jason Nixon’s characterization of COVID Alert as “the Trudeau tracing app” and remember that we are all in the fight against COVID-19 together.
UNA urges Alberta to be part of the national effort to control COVID-19 and to save Albertan lives by adopting the COVID Alert app immediately.