OTTAWA: Canada will mark the one-year anniversary today of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic.
Earlier this week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who delivered a statement in the House of Commons, designated March 11 a National Day of Observance to commemorate those who have died of the pandemic.
Other leaders including Quebec Premier Francois Legault, and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also spoke about the devastating effect the virus has had on Canadians.
Since the pandemic began, 2.5 million people around the world have died due to COVID-19, with more than 22,000 of them in Canada, according to figures released by Johns Hopskins University of the United States.
Trudeau issued the following statement: “Early last year, our lives, and the lives of everyone around the world were forever changed by the emergence of COVID-19. Today – one year after the first known death of a Canadian to the disease – we now mourn the tragic loss of more than 22,000 parents, siblings, friends, and loved ones.
“COVID-19 has infected over 864,000 other Canadians and has had an immeasurable impact on how we all work and learn, connect with friends and family, and live our daily lives. All Canadians have experienced sacrifice and loss over the past year.
Our kids have missed birthday parties, seniors have felt isolated from the ones they love, and for far too many, this virus has meant the loss of their job or the closure of their business.
“Our health care and other essential workers have put themselves at risk, working long hours, so we could get the services and care we needed. And as efforts continue to get vaccines to every Canadian as quickly as possible, we thank them now more than ever.
“During this crisis, Canadians have remained resilient. They have helped neighbours, given to organizations, put signs in their windows to support our health care workers, and lent a hand wherever possible. As we continue to deal with the impacts of the global pandemic, your government will continue to do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, to support you – because here in Canada, we help each other through challenging times.
“We all have a role to play in ending this pandemic, and the crisis is not over yet. In recognition of how far we have come and how far we still have to go, the Government of Canada is designating March 11, 2021, as a National Day of Observance. On this day, I invite all Canadians to join together in honouring the memory of those we have lost, and the people they left behind. We will also recognize everyone who has been impacted by COVID-19, and pay tribute to all those who continue to work hard and make incredible sacrifices in our fight against the virus. Together, we will beat COVID-19.”
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also honoured lives lost in his own speech to Parliament and recognized the unintended mental health and economic consequences of the pandemic.
“Youth mental health presenting as anxiety or eating disorders are alarmingly on the rise. The true cost of this pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of Canadians of all walks of life has been staggering,” O’Toole said.
However he said: “Like many Canadians, we’re frustrated by the slower pace of vaccines than elsewhere, but we want the government to succeed for the health and well-being of Canadians so we can get our lives back to normal.”
NDP’s Jagmeet Singh said: “It is with great sadness when we reflect on who felt this pandemic the most and who bore the brunt of this pandemic, we come up with the answer that [it was] our seniors,” he said. “It’s a national shame that’s the case.”
Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam said: “We have all made many sacrifices…from balancing multiple roles… to financial uncertainty and experiencing a sense of loneliness; some have lost family and friends to COVID-19,”