By Letter to the Editor on November 21, 2020.
Recently Minister Shandro defended the Alberta COVID-19 tracing app as a tool in the fight against the pandemic. He went on to say that the federal app wasn’t a good fit for our province.
Alberta has over 10,000 active cases, and the app has thus far identified just 70 contacts in 19 cases. The federal app, on the other hand, has been downloaded over five million times. This situation reminds me of the story of a proud mother watching a parade in which her son was marching, when she turned to her neighbour and remarked, “Look at that! The whole army is out of step, except for my son.”
Wow! Mr. Shandro are you saying that five million Canadians in eight provinces are out of step, and only your 19 cases are in step?
The results from the Alberta app have not been effective partly because not enough Albertans have downloaded it. There are about 800 staff who have thus far been able to trace about 25 to 35 per cent of the cases. There is talk about adding an additional 400 staff to improve the tracing. Will this extra cost be enough to slow the pandemic?
An additional concern among Albertans may be concern that our app is invading our privacy by the information it gathers and disperses. The federal app, on the other hand, sends an alert to phones that were within two metres of an infected person for significant periods in the prior 14 days. The person receiving this alert can then take necessary measures to prevent a possible further spread. I understand that the Alberta app does not give such an alert. I believe it may try to contact the person directly. Correct me if I am wrong.
Alberta recently was reported to have the second highest per capita infection rate in Canada. Maybe it’s time for Minister Shandro to get his head out of the sand and accept that the federal app just may be a better fit than the Alberta one.