Canada’s federal government is contemplating outfitting their federal workers with wearable fitness trackers, according to a report. A research group inside Canadian Prime Minister’s own department has been looking at whether public servants should be offered electronic fitness-tracking devices to help reduce their health insurance premiums, said the CBC report.
Fitness-conscious employees could be rewarded with wearable fitness trackers such as Fitbits or smartwatches as well, similar to the program offered by Aeroplan.
The research was carried out by the Impact and Innovation Unit in the Privy Council Office, the central organ of Canada’s federal government. The unit experiments with new ways to revitalize the workforce.
CBC News obtained a censored memo which talks about the pros and cons of various ways through which federal workers could be encouraged to follow healthy habits by using wearables.
“Interactive insurance policies give consumers the opportunity to receive discounts on premiums for sharing health-related information through wearable tracking devices,” says the memo. It suggests the technology could be used to cut costs in the 600,000-member Public Service Health Care Plan, administered by Sun Life Financial.
“Typically, tracking devices collect consumers’ fitness metrics (e.g., daily steps taken or gym visits) and are linked to the insurance provider’s mobile application. Fitness metrics are stored within the app, and eventually become applied to insurance premium savings.”
The memo also acknowledges the drawbacks of using wearable devices such as privacy concerns about data misuse. The memo however, indicates that fitness tracking for public servants would be entirely voluntary.
According to the memo, Ottawa would face a “significant financial investment” for a rewards program covering all 262,000 federal workers, although the memo notes that RCMP and the Canadian Forces have banned wearable technology for security reasons. Also, workers with disabilities or mobility issues might not be able to take full advantage.