Terms of Reference of the Advisory Council to Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments on the National COVID-19 Exposure Notification App

1. Objective

To establish an advisory body to support the effective roll-out and operations of a national exposure notification app, with the aim of building and maintaining public trust in the initiative and ensuring that Federal, Provincial, and Territorial (FPT) governments benefit from expert advice and guidance.

2. Mandate

The mandate of the Advisory Council to FPT governments on the National COVID-19 Exposure Notification App (the Advisory Council) will be to provide expert advice and guidance as required in order to ensure that the app meets the highest standards with respect to public health outcomes, technology, and privacy.

3. Program of work

  1. The Advisory Council will be a central reference point to help inform the ongoing development and implementation of the national COVID-19 exposure notification app. The Program of Work of the Advisory Council includes, but is not limited to:
    1. Providing advice on the ongoing development of the app; review the protocols that govern the operation of the app, and provide advice on procedures or features to maintain high standards of citizen safety, security, privacy and public health;
    2. Providing advice on maintaining robust privacy policy and protocols that align with the principles for digital applications set out by Federal, Provincial and Territorial Commissioners of Privacy, and reflect the results of the Government's ongoing engagement with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada;
    3. Providing advice to achieve strong public health outcomes for the app, including advice on effective public health messaging, methods to maximize public uptake of the app, effective exposure parameters, and other elements to help reduce the spread of COVID-19;
    4. Providing advice on transparency of decision-making protocols related to the app and its operations to ensure public confidence;
    5. Providing advice on design methodology and behavioural science to ensure appropriate uptake, compliance, and ongoing testing of the app's efficacy and impact;
    6. Providing advice on any other matter identified by participating governments as important to the operations, take-up or acceptance of the app; and
    7. Providing advice for eventual wind-down of the app, including recommendations for the timely destruction of data.
  2. The Advisory Council may establish working groups or sub-committees to advance specific areas of its mandate, including privacy/ethics, public health and technology. 
  3. The Advisory Council will provide reports to the Deputy Minister of Health, Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Deputy Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Secretary of the Treasury Board (responsible Federal Deputy Ministers) and relevant Provincial and Territorial Deputy Ministers on a regular basis. The reports will be on subjects tasked by the responsible Federal Deputy Ministers. The responsible Federal Deputy Ministers shall make these reports public, except to the extent that they compromise the security of the app.
  4. In carrying out its mandate, the Advisory Council may be asked to provide or contribute to reports, and issue discussion papers on options, recommendations, and advice.
  5. Acknowledging that the situation with COVID-19 is evolving, the Program of Work will be reviewed regularly and updated in light of new challenges and opportunities. 

4. Organizational structure

  1. The Advisory Council will draw on Canada's expertise from industry, civil society, and academia.
  2. The Advisory Council will initially consist of 11 members, including two Co-Chairs.
  3. The initial members of the Advisory Council, including the Co-Chairs, will be invited by the Deputy Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, on the advice of responsible Federal Deputy Ministers and senior officials.
  4. As Provincial and Territorial governments confirm their intention to launch the national exposure notification app within their jurisdictions, additional nominations for membership will be considered as needed to augment regional representation. Any additional members will be added in consultation with the Province or Territory in question.
  5. The decision to nominate, consider, and confirm members and Co-Chairs will be based on expertise, accomplishments and leadership in their respective fields, while ensuring  a wide range of views and respecting Canada's diversity.  
  6. Health Canada is the business owner of the exposure notification service with responsibility for engagement with the provinces and territories, privacy and legal, and the communications strategy.  The Secretariat support for the Advisory Council will be co-hosted by Health Canada and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

5. Frequency of meetings

Beginning in July 2020, the Advisory Council will meet as needed, via teleconference/videoconference, with a focus on its Program of Work.

6. Consultations and stakeholder engagement

  1. The Advisory Council may invite individuals, and/or organizations – whether public or private – to have observer status at meetings, as deemed appropriate. 
  2. The Advisory Council may conduct consultations with external stakeholders from industry, civil society and academia, as well as with observers to incorporate broader Canadian perspectives into fulfilling their Program of Work.

7. Terms of service

Members of the Advisory Council will pursue their work for a period of one (1) year, with the possibility of renewal.