COVID Alert uses Bluetooth, to share anonymous, randomly generated codes with other app users nearby.
The app doesn't require the users personal information so if you test positive your identity will be kept private.
Users who test positive will received a one-time key from local health authorities, starting in Ontario today.
The notification users will receive if they may have come into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case lets them know that they are at risk of being infected and prompts them to contact their local public health agency to determine next steps.
Provincial and territorial governments are working to support COVID Alert across Canada.
"I want to be clear: this app isn't mandatory", he told reporters.
"I support the use of exposure notification technology to help control the spread of COVID-19, provided it is used in the way it's been created to respect the privacy of Ontarians", says Commissioner Kosseim.
Officials say that the app will become more effective as more people download it - and they stress that it's a notification app, not a contact-tracing app.
"We are watching carefully and remain concerned about the slippery slope and government comfort with accessing and utilizing personal data", Cameron said.
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"Canadians can opt to use this technology knowing it includes very significant privacy protections", says Daniel Therrien, Privacy Commissioner of Canada. He and Ontario information and privacy commissioner Patricia Kosseim said government monitoring of its implementation and effectiveness, coupled with independent oversight, are key to maintaining public trust.
If someone downloads the app at the time of receiving a positive COVID-19 test result, app users who had been in their vicinity will still be notified when the ill person "uploads" the key code.
"So please, everyone, please download the app and help do your part", Ford stated in the conference.
"Based on our review of the app and acceptance of our recommendations, I am satisfied that there are strong measures built in to help protect individual privacy".
The health information of anyone you're near.
"If it (the app) finds codes that match, the app notifies you that you've been exposed and explains what to do next", reads the app's guide on looking for exposures. The federal government worked with Apple and Google on the technology underlying the app. That way, when people are able to report a diagnosis, you'll find out if you were near them.
However, the Canadian government does store users' IP addresses for a period of three months to two years, in what it says is a standard protocol for protecting against cyber attacks.
"This Ontario-made app keeps people informed about being potentially exposed to the virus and allows them to act quickly to stop the spread of the virus".
The app - called COVID Alert - is now available for download on iPhones and Android devices.