Premier Jason Kenney yesterday issued a new statement on why Alberta will not adopt the federal government-developed COVID Alert Tracing app.
In an irritated response to a question from The Globe and Mail’s Emma Graney, Premier Kenney alleged the federal smartphone app was incompatible with the features used to track coronavirus infections in Alberta.
Graney asked during a press conference about a provincial emissions reduction program why the province had not adopted the federal app.
“Well, first of all, we don’t make these decisions based on rolling or hugging things or vapid topics of conversation, Emma,” an obviously irritated Kenney told the respected Globe journalist who previously covered Alberta politics for Postmedia.
“We’re basing them on their public health effectiveness, and the Alberta Trace Together app connects to Alberta’s contract tracking system that has made the country a leader in contract tracking,” he continued. “Based on the advice we have received, it is far more effective as a public health tool.”
Now, on Aug. 1, a spokesman for Alberta Health Ottawa had blamed Ottawa for how long it took to fix Alberta’s ABTraceTogether app, which the province paid $ 625,000 for despite being open source -Software based. The Albertans hadn’t adopted the provincial app in large numbers, probably because it didn’t work properly on phones with Apple’s iOS operating system.
Tom McMillan accused the federal government of deliberately delaying an iOS update for the app by banning Apple from working with the province to resolve the issue.
On Aug. 9, Tyler Shandro’s press secretary Steve Buick said the province made the decision to adopt the federal government’s COVID-19 notification app, realizing that a national coronavirus tracking strategy made more sense than Alberta alone.
Two weeks ago, Buick said Alberta was working with the federal government to move “nearly 245,000 users” from ABTraceTogether to COVID Alert.
Last week, Deena Hinshaw and Shandro, chief medical officer for health, said COVID Alert is still unavailable in the province “because there are still technical issues switching current users of the ABTraceTogether app to the federal app.”
It was around this time that the media, opposition politicians and Albertans, terrified of an increase in COVID-19 cases and the government’s apparent determination not to impose restrictions on companies controlling the spread of the disease, the United Conservative Party urged to adopt what UCP house manager Jason Nixon calls “the Trudeau tracing app”.
Now, Kenney has given his new incompatibility claim as an apology for it while also insisting that the iOS issue with the signed Alberta app be fixed. As a result, he said, “We haven’t made a final decision.”
It does, despite the fact that infection rates are even higher than they were when the federal app riot began. Every Edmonton Hospital Now Has A COVID-19 Outbreak!
“When Albertans travel outside of the province, they can use the federal app in provinces that they may visit once they are signed up,” Kenney added generously yesterday.
“And when Canadians travel to Alberta, feel free to download the Alberta Trace Together app,” he added, seemingly forgetting that Albertans are Canadians too.
UCP issues managers, MLAs, and online backers don’t need to be overly concerned. They should just update their talking points right away and send all previous explanations to the memory hole.
In all seriousness, the kiss of death for COVID Alert in Alberta was almost certain when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to an Edmonton radio station on Friday to urge the province to adopt the federal app and bluntly stated that the UCP government was theirs Block usage.
Albertans can only use this COVID-19 tracing tool if Ottawa unilaterally introduces it in that province.
David Climenhaga, author of the Alberta Diary blog, is a journalist, author, journalism instructor, poet, and union communicator who has served in senior writing and editing roles at The Globe and Mail and The Calgary Herald.
Image: Screenshot of the video / YouTube of the Alberta Government