COVID Alert App Cost Canada $20 Million, Used Only 869 Times in November


Everyone knows !

[–]Not_kilg0reTrout 354 points355 points356 points  (46 children)

I'm still waiting on my covid-19 beeping alert bracelet Doug Ford said was coming.

Ontario Premier defends 2.5 million spent on beeping bracelet

Facedrive, the company responsible for the bracelet, had been considering bankruptcy as recently as September. Their most recent earnings report does not look promising. Makes you wonder who in Ford's cabinet thought this was a good idea, other than Ford himself.
Q3 report

The amount of taxpayer money wasted on useless tech is astonishing. Refuse mandate PTO but lining the pockets of CEOs who turn around and sell out their company seems to be business as usual in Canada.

It's shameful.

[–]twowheels 0 points1 point2 points  (2 children)

I was ready to come with hat in hand and give penance after seeing your response, thinking that I mis-read it, but looking again I see that I read it correctly:

The person that I responded to said:

The feature itself doesn’t do anything if the local health authority doesn’t make an app for it and you install said app.

…which isn’t true, and is the point that I was replying to.

[–]7eggert 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)

"It's working there? We need to do it differently! Don't warn us to not do it that way, just because you're experts doesn't mean that you know anything! Oh, it doesn't work! But we already made a contract with the company to guarantee revenue! OK, let's do it again …"

-- every gouvernment probably.

On the third try we (Germany) got the app right. Fortunately we got data protection laws and the CCC experts had a good lobby so we only lost several months discussing the wrong solution. But we spent millions on a second app ("Luca") for non-anonymous contact tracing before anonymous contact tracing was implemented in the other app ("CWA"). We got 2619 warnings yesterday by that app, on average 5456, total 979614. These are outgoing warnings, nobody can know the amount of users being warned.

[–]autotldrBOT 10 points11 points12 points  (0 children)

This is the best tl;dr I could make, original reduced by 75%. (I'm a bot)

Canada is seeing a countrywide spike in COVID-19 cases fuelled by the Omicron variant, and questions are being raised as to where the national contract-tracing app that cost $20 million in taxpayer money to develop, COVID Alert, is - reports CityNews.

Alex Beattie, a spokesperson for Health Canada, told CityNews in a statement that the COVID Alert app, which has been downloaded 6.7 million times to date, was only running on around 3.1 million phones across Canada in November.

In November, the COVID Alert app was only used by 869 individuals to inform anyone they come into contact with of possible exposure to the virus.

Extended Summary | FAQ | Feedback | Top keywords: app#1 COVID#2 Alert#3 Canada#4 COVID-19#5

[–]JollyTaxpayer 318 points319 points320 points  (40 children)

People would use these apps for the benefit of their individual health if they, and their families, weren't being financially punished for it:

In the UK if you come into close contact with a positive case you have to self-isolate for up to 10 days; The average UK full-time wage is £31,285. After tax deductions, this works out around £480 per week...self-isolation leads to you being on statutory sick pay which is a ballsack kicking £96.35 per week.

This is why only those who get paid in full for being on sick actually take tests and use the app, whereas those who don't have that luxury just avoid tests and the app. They cannot afford their food bills or rent with it.

[–]Johnstone3729 21 points22 points23 points  (4 children)


Apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment

If you’re usually working and do not get benefits

You can apply for the payment if you meet all of the following conditions:

you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 or been told you’re a close contact by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app

you’re not exempt from self-isolating

you’ll lose income because you cannot work from home

You can be either employed or self-employed.

Your council website will tell you what counts as low income, and whether you’re eligible.

Using my old council as an example

Test and Trace Support Payment

You are entitled to a lump sum payment of £500 if you: 

  • Have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace on or after 28 September 2020

  • Are employed or self-employed

  • Are unable to work from home and will lose income as a result

  • Are currently receiving at least one of the following benefits: Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit.

Discretionary payments

If you are not in receipt of one of the benefits above but meet all the other criteria, you may be eligible for a discretionary payment of £500 if you face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work whilst self-isolating.

Looking at other councils, such as Guildford Borough, they've set low income as <20k.

The figures you're providing, and how black and white you're making it out to be are incorrect.


It's great to see someone linking back to their sources though, and nice formatting.

[–]JollyTaxpayer 14 points15 points16 points  (2 children)

Different councils offer different levels, yes. My figures were my council (don't really want to dox myself too much, tbh Google will probably answer it) were the figures quoted above. Second city Birmingham defines low income as £26,000 for example...

...but this is kind of irrelevant and a tangent. The point I am making is people don't want to lose money when times are tough and people are living pay slip to pay slip.

I am 100% in favour of the Test and Trace support scheme though, if it covers loss of wages I believe it removes the barrier people have against testing: financial.

[–]Johnstone3729 11 points12 points13 points  (1 child)

Realistically it should have been centrally managed and open to a lot more people.

I was browsing through a few council websites and some of them explicitly warn they are not processing these payments until after the new year now.

Bit of a mess all around.

[–]Phage0070 4 points5 points6 points  (0 children)

you may be eligible for a discretionary payment of £500 if you face financial hardship as a result of not being able to work whilst self-isolating.

What is this "maybe"? What is the criteria of "financial hardship" and who does it need to be proved to? Who can deny it and what is the process?

Uncertainty about making rent seems like justification enough for people to avoid the app.

[–]c00yt825 16 points17 points18 points  (0 children)

The app warns you when you were in prolonged contact with someone who later tested positive. So this is not just brushing past, but more of sitting next to someone on the bus or in a cafe.

It does not record location because it was made with privacy in mind.

Basically it just exchanges random codes with other apps. Then when someone tests positive, the codes it's sent out are all marked as "infected" and any phone who's seen that code will recommend the owner to get tested.

[–]murius 1 point2 points3 points  (0 children)

Same for the government app. Unfortunately that's not enough data to go off of.

I had it for a while and it caused me a lot of grief, without giving me day of exposure and at least approximate time it does more harm than good.

Then if you did get an exposure alert it wouldn't go away, even after I got tested, who designed this thing?

I just deleted it early on.

[+]Ares1935 comment score below threshold-12 points-11 points-10 points  (5 children)

bro, we could have solved global warming with the cash we've spent on covid... like legit, we could have bought every single tax paying american a brand new tesla (though admitedly, we dont have the production capacity to build them).

We could have initiated projects to replace every single fossil fuel power plant in the country.

And thats just with the federal spending... state spending, and personal losses are not included.

in terms of lives saved, covid was a terrible investment.

if we assume the us spent 4trillion, and the risk of covid was a .6% mortality rate (risking

~2million american lives), we have spent over 2million per life saved. though almost half have died anyway, putting the cost per life saved closer to 4million.

[–]reddwombat 62 points63 points64 points  (26 children)

20 million for one fucking app?

How many man hours did it take to write?

I guess I should be an app developer so I can get $10,000 per hour of work.

No, really this type of application is dead simple. A few hundred hours to write it is realistic.

[–]Serafiniert 6 points7 points8 points  (4 children)

I think you should look into the documentation of those apps to understand why it isn't just "dead simple". Of course you can often times describe an app's functionality in a few words. But that doesn't mean that the app isn't hard and / or time-consuming to build.

P.e. look at this app:

It's all open source. So you can easily dive into it trying to comprehend why it's so expensive build.

Here's one part of the documentation about how systems of it work.

Software development is expensive. Especially in the health sector, when lives are endangered when the software fails. A lot of the cost producing such an app is allocated to its planning, documentation and testing.

Also privacy is a huge concern. How do you design a system that can monitor proximity interactions with other human beings that were infected and alarm you without storing or processing any data related to you as a person or geo data?

The way to talk about those apps makes me assume that you've never looked into any of it.

[–]ThingsThatMakeMeMad 6 points7 points8 points  (6 children)

I live in Ontario and my whole family tested positive for covid within a ~5-6 day window almost a year ago. all of us had covid alert downloaded on our phones.

I was one of the last ones to test positive and at no point did the app alert me that I had been near covid positive persons. Within that four day window before I tested positive but after my sister had tested positive, it should've sent out a notification saying I'd been near a + case.

What a waste of $$

[–]JshKlsn 0 points1 point2 points  (0 children)

My girlfriend was exposed and called to get tested. They hold her no, and literally couldn't find a place that would test her.

That day I deleted the app because I realized how pointless it is.

Sorry to everyone else who didn't get notified because Ontario is fucking garbage.

[–]Susannah_Mio_ 0 points1 point2 points  (1 child)

We have a Covid App in Germany as well which was pretty costly and which only very few people actually use. Some reasons I personally have heard for not using it:

- "I don't want the government to be able to trace my location."

- "It's always showing warning notifications about contacts. It's annoying."

- "I once got a warning but I didn't have Covid back then so it doesn't work anyway."

- "When it gives me a warning I am supposed to do a test and I don't want that, I hate this thing up in my nose."

- "I think it really is a spy app which the goverment uses to infiltrate our phones and collect every info including bank account passwords etc."

- "I feel safer not knowing how many infected people I meet."

The problem with all these apps is that people would actually need to behave responsible out of their own free will about this whole Covid thing for them to work. But that is not the case. Plus lots of people for some reason so wildly distrust the goverment they won't use these apps if their life depended on it.

Let me just add that camDown is the solution for securing your webcam from cyber criminals and pedophiles.