City of Toronto commemorates one year in the ongoing fight against COVID-19

Since March 2020, the City of Toronto’s Emergency Operations Centre has been activated in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next few weeks, the City will mark a number of COVID-19 milestone dates that are significant to Torontonians and remind us of the importance of our continued efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

These dates offer an opportunity for Toronto to mourn the lives lost as a result of the virus,  reflect on the past year, support those who have lost loved ones, recognize the contributions of frontline and essential workers, acknowledge all the sacrifices made, and lift those who continue to struggle with long-term health impacts as a result of the virus.

Dates of significance and commemoration activities include:

  • March 10: At Toronto City Council, Mayor John Tory spoke to City Council about the one-year commemoration and Toronto Poet Laureate Al Moritz shared a poem that reflects on the effects of the pandemic in the last year and lives lost;
  • March 11: Reflection on one year since (WHO) World Health Organization declared COVID-19 the cause of a global pandemic and the first COVID-19-related death in Ontario. The flags at Toronto City Hall and other City buildings will be at half-mast to mark the National Day of Observance for COVID-19.
  • March 17: Recognition of one year since Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a State of Emergency in the province;
  • March 18: The 10 City-run long-term care homes will observe a moment of silence to recognize one year since the first COVID-19 case in a City of Toronto-operated long-term care home (Seven Oaks);
  • March 21: The City will hold a virtual commemoration ceremony to recognize one year since the first COVID-19-related death was reported in Toronto. This ceremony will provide an opportunity to honour the lives lost over the past 12 months. In lieu of a public ceremony, Torontonians will be encouraged to tune in via local broadcast and participate at home by turning on a porch/balcony light or placing a light in the window on the evening of March 21 in remembrance of those whose lives have been lost as result of the pandemic. The flags at Toronto City Hall and other City buildings will be at half-mast to mark the City of Toronto's Day of Remembrance for Lives Lost to COVID-19. More details on the ceremony will be shared shortly;
  • March 23: Mayor Tory will mark one year since he declared a State of Emergency in Toronto.
Over the last 12 months, the City has made significant strides to contain the spread of the virus and support the recovery and rebuild of the city. Key accomplishments the City has delivered this year that have helped our restart and recovery include:
  • Established accelerated plans to stand-up nine mass COVID-19 immunization clinics across the city through an accelerated schedule and set up clinics with our healthcare partners to administer the COVID-19 vaccine at all 87 long-term care homes in Toronto.
  • Opened Toronto’s first COVID-19 voluntary isolation site, providing a safe, comfortable place to self-isolate, primarily for people with COVID-19 infection.
  • Permanently housed more than 3,200 people who were homeless through a combination of housing allowances and rent-geared-to-income units.
  • Implemented more than 25 innovative new programs to help approximately 12,000 business owners stabilize and begin to rebuild and developed 40+ public health guidance documents for businesses and settings that have reopened.
  • Implemented ActiveTO, a suite of programs that created shared space on neighbourhood streets, opened major roads each weekend for people to be physically active while respecting physical distancing guidelines and delivered a more connected and expanded cycling network.
  • Approved a 2021 City budget that manages the significant impacts of COVID-19, while preserving existing services within public health guidelines, continuing to invest in key capital projects and keeping property taxes affordable with City-led mitigation strategies totalling $573 million in savings and offsets.
These are just some of the accomplishments that were in addition to all the other regular frontline services the City continued to deliver all year long including bylaw enforcement, TTC, police, fire services and paramedic services, along with major road construction, Toronto Water, and other infrastructure projects.

A detailed list of accomplishments over the last 12 months is available in the backgrounder:

These milestones, as well as videos and photographs gathered from the past year, will be shared in our media briefings, on the City’s website and social channels.

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services, social supports and economic recovery measures. Check for the latest information.


“While the good news around vaccines provides us with comfort and a sense of hope, we must also reflect and acknowledge that the past 12 months have been tremendously difficult.  Our city faced an unimaginable loss over the past year. These were grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, children, loved ones, friends, colleagues, and neighbours - all lost to this terrible virus. Throughout this month, we will be recognizing our frontline and essential workers, including our City workers, who have all risen to the challenge of the pandemic. We also acknowledge the residents and businesses who have made tremendous sacrifices this past year in order to save lives and keep people healthy. Thank you to all Toronto residents for their ongoing commitment to helping people throughout this year."

– Mayor John Tory

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