Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises to deliver a statement on the National Day of Observance of COVID-19, to recognize victims and the impacts of pandemic, in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises to deliver a statement on the National Day of Observance of COVID-19, to recognize victims and the impacts of pandemic, in the House of Commons, in Ottawa, Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Canada marks national day of observance to commemorate those who died of COVID-19

Prime minister describes the past 12 months as ‘a heartbreaking year, but it is a year we have faced together’

Flags across the country were flown at half-mast and tributes poured in to lost loved ones on Thursday as Canada marked the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 being declared a global pandemic.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose in the House of Commons Thursday and said March 11, 2020 will always be marked by a before and an after.

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.

“For families and close ones, each death has a before and an after,” Trudeau said.

“Since the great wars of the 20th century, there is a sentence we often evoke, and it’s a sentence that we can bring back for those that we lost this year during the pandemic: We will remember them.”

Commemorations were held in different parts of the country including Quebec, which has accounted for nearly half the country’s death toll with more than 10,500 dead.

Premier Francois Legault and other elected members carried white roses that were laid at the foot of a wreath during a ceremony in front of the provincial legislature.

In a brief speech, the premier noted that the pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on the elderly.

“The virus hit very hard, and it above all hit our elders to whom we owe everything, our elders who built the Quebec of today,” Legault said to a small crowd that included cabinet members, opposition party leaders, health-care workers and family members of those who died.

“We lost grandmothers, grandfathers, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters friends, and today Quebec remembers these people that left us too soon.”

Edmonton’s mayor announced the city’s flags would fly at half-mast, while Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he would seek consent from the legislature to observe a moment of silence recognizing all Ontarians who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Ford described the pandemic as “one of the grimmest chapters in modern health history,” but one that had also spawned “incredible acts of kindness, compassion and generosity” from front line health care workers, businesses, essential workers and volunteers.

Flags were also flown at half-mast in British Columbia, where Premier John Horgan paid tribute to the nearly 1,400 residents who lost their lives to COVID-19 and the efforts of British Columbians to fight the pandemic.

“Many people have faced loneliness. All of us have faced uncertainty,” he wrote on Twitter. “But while our lives have changed, the resolve of British Columbians has not.”

Trudeau chose to make Thursday a national day of remembrance because it was the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic.

The prime minister evoked the memories of Canadians being asked to stay home and stay safe, of essential workers stocking grocery store shelves and of people cheering health-care workers from their balconies.

“Businesses stepped up and produced (personal protective equipment),” Trudeau said. “Some went from making hockey masks to face shields: It doesn’t get any more Canadian than that.”

The prime minister briefly touched on the multiple tragedies in long-term care centres, where seniors across the country died in the thousands from the disease, often in circumstances of labour shortages and immense personal hardship.

“For every senior in Canada, we must do better, and I know that we will,” he said.

Trudeau ended his speech on a hopeful note, telling Canadian that millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine are on the way, allowing provinces to accelerate their vaccination campaigns. Health Canada has approved four COVID-19 vaccines so far, and 1.5 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Officials in Canada struck a reassuring tone on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on Thursday, after several European countries suspended its use after reports of blood clots following inoculations. At least nine countries fully or partially halted their rollouts of the vaccine pending further investigation, though none suggested there is a link between the clots and getting the vaccine.

Both Quebec and Alberta’s top public health officials issued statements on Thursday saying there is currently nothing to indicate the vaccine is unsafe, while promising to monitor the situation carefully.

Ontario announced it was placing, Sudbury, Ont., into lockdown as of Friday to curb the spread of more contagious COVID-19 variants and protect health system capacity after a spike in cases.

The province’s science advisers released new modelling that concluded the province’s ability to control the spread of COVID-19 variants over the next few weeks will determine if there will be a third wave of infection.

The province’s Science Advisory Table said that while the drive to vaccinate residents and workers in long-term care has paid off in declining deaths and illness, progress against the virus has stalled outside that sector. It said Ontarians will have to be strict about masking and physical distancing to prevent a new surge linked to variants.

The news was better in British Columbia, where rules were relaxed to allow outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s chief public health officer, said while the infection curve of the pandemic is trending down on Vancouver Island and in the Interior and Northern health regions, COVID-19 is still circulating in communities, particularly in the Lower Mainland.

Canada’s chief public health officer said in a statement that daily COVID-19 case counts have levelled off after declining nationally from mid-January through mid-February.

Severe outcomes have continued to decline, Dr. Theresa Tam said, with an average of 2,064 people with COVID-19 treated in Canadian hospitals each day in the past week.

READ MORE: Canada to honour those lost to COVID on one-year anniversary of pandemic

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE – Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have agreed to sign a memorandum on rights and title with B.C. and Ottawa, but elected chiefs are demanding it be called off over lack of consultation. (Thom Barker photo)
Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs, Lake Babine Nation get provincial funding for land, title rights

Government says it’s a new, flexible model for future agreements between Canada, B.C. and First Nations.

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
Out-of-region B.C. vacation bookings, RV ferry reservations to be refused

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
BREAKING: Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
B.C. to open up AstraZeneca vaccines for all people 40+, set up clinics in hot spots

A total of 13 neighbourhoods and communities will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The former C&C Wood Products mill will begin producing products again later this month, under new ownership. (Observer file photo)
Williams Lake-owned company to restart production at bankrupt specialty mill in Quesnel

President of Kandola Forest Products says he expects to fill 90 full-time jobs by end of year

Carver Ken Sheen had almost finished work on a large cowboy carving commissioned by the City of Williams Lake to replace the original overlooking the Stampede Grounds when fire broke out Friday, April 18 at his property between Williams Lake and Quesnel. (Pine River Carving Facebook photos)
Cow boss statue destined for Williams Lake Stampede Grounds goes up in flames

Carver Ken Sheen lost the statue, all his tools and his shop in the blaze

Most Read