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Military members asked to use federal government's COVID-19 tracking app

Last Updated Sep 3, 2020 at 12:08 pm PDT

A Canadian flag sits on a members of Canadian forces that are leaving from CFB Trenton, in Trenton, Ont., on October 16, 2014. Canadian Armed Forces members and their civilian colleagues in the Department of National Defence are being strongly encouraged to download the federal government's smartphone application for tracking potential exposure to COVID-19. Chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas say they understand some may have concerns when it comes to privacy and secrecy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Lars Hagberg

OTTAWA — Canadian Armed Forces members and their civilian colleagues in the Department of National Defence are being strongly encouraged to download the federal government’s smartphone application for tracking potential exposure to COVID-19.

Chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance and Defence Department deputy minister Jody Thomas say they understand some may have concerns when it comes to privacy and secrecy.

But they say the app has been cleared by Defence Department experts and that while installing it is voluntary, using it is one way military personnel and defence officials can help prevent a second wave of COVID-19.

The call to arms comes as Newfoundland and Labrador joins Ontario as the only provinces using the app, though Saskatchewan has said it is considering whether to join.

Quebec has indicated it does not plan to adopt the app for now.

The government says the app has been downloaded 2.2 million times since it was rolled out in Ontario in late July and that 112 people have voluntarily used it to identify themselves as having COVID-19.

The app uses Bluetooth to exchange randomly generated numbers with nearby smartphones and alerts users if they have been close to someone who later enters a code saying he or she has tested positive for the virus that causes the illness.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press