Today, the City of Toronto is reflecting on the strength and resiliency of Torontonians on the third anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 confirmed in the city. Toronto’s first confirmed case, identified on January 25, 2020, was also Canada’s first confirmed case of the virus and launched an unprecedented response from the City and people across Toronto. The past three years have required sacrifice and strength as Torontonians rallied to protect the city’s most vulnerable residents against the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
One year after the first case appeared in Toronto, on January 18, 2021, the City launched its first COVID-19 immunization clinic and worked collaboratively with Toronto Public Health (TPH), health care providers and community partners to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations as quickly and effectively as possible.
As of January 19, 2023, more than 7.8 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and boosters have been administered to eligible residents five years of age and older and more than 90 per cent of people age 12 and older have received two doses of vaccine.
Also launched in 2021, the innovative work of City’s Vaccine Engagement Teams (VETs) and community ambassadors has been a key component of the City’s COVID-19 Community Mobilization and Engagement Plan to help reduce barriers to COVID-19 vaccines, address hesitancy and increase vaccine confidence, access and uptake among equity-deserving communities across Toronto. The culturally diverse and multilingual community ambassadors and VETs have been integral to building trust and improving vaccine access and equity.
VETs operate through 17 geographic and population-specific consortiums made up of more than 150 health, community, and faith-based organizations. VETs have mobilized more than 720 community ambassadors, who reflect the diversity in culture, race and language of Toronto’s equity-deserving groups and, using personal networks, facilitate targeted outreach to individuals and communities where they work and live. More information about the work and impact of VETs is available on the COVID-19 Vaccine Engagement Teams Updates webpage.
Toronto’s COVID-19 vaccination program is ongoing, with targeted outreach to protect seniors, children, homebound individuals, people experiencing homelessness, persons with a disability and those most likely to experience poor outcomes associated with COVID-19.
Team Toronto mobile clinics continue to bring vaccines into community and neighbourhood settings.
Although three years have passed since Toronto’s first confirmed case, COVID-19 continues to circulate in the community. Toronto Public Health recommends that residents stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations. Scientific data shows that individuals who have kept up to date with their vaccinations are better protected against serious consequences links to the virus and its variants compared to those who are unvaccinated or under-vaccinated.
COVID-19 and flu vaccination appointments continue to be available at all six City fixed-site immunization clinics to people six months of age and older. People five years of age and older attending a City-run or Team Toronto clinic, or a participating pharmacy, can be vaccinated for the flu and COVID-19 in the same visit. Appointments for City-run clinics can be booked using the provincial vaccine appointment booking webpage: www.ontario.ca/book-vaccine/.
TPH reminds residents to continue taking simple but impactful actions to protect themselves, their families and those most at risk of serious COVID disease. More information is available on the City’s Reduce Virus Spread Guide.
Toronto residents are invited to heal and cleanse through the restorative power of rising heat, ash, smoke and water. The Burn, an interactive art installation inspired by the universally sacred elements of fire and water, provides a sanctuary for comfort and care with rituals of intention setting, releasing and letting go.
On now until March 11, residents are invited to engage with The Burn’s travelling vessels by setting healing intentions on wooden spheres. Following the tour, take part in a commemorative ceremony on Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday, March 11, where the wooden spheres will be ignited for a 24-hour burn. Ashes from The Burn will be harvested, mixed into soil and spread across city gardens to honour the spirit of our collective healing. More information is available at Toronto.ca/TheBurn.
This installation is part of Stronger TOgether, a program for Toronto residents to recognize and reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic. More information is available at Toronto.ca/StrongerTOgether.
“These have been a challenging three years for all Canadians, but I want to thank all Torontonians for doing their part in protecting themselves and our community by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. I also thank Toronto Public Health and the community partners who make up Team Toronto for springing into action and working relentlessly these past few years to get residents vaccinated and protected. I also want to thank all our frontline workers in small businesses, service industries, and first responders for all they did keeping our city running and supporting our residents. Your tremendous efforts to keep Toronto safe will never be forgotten and continue to be crucial as we work to recover.”
– Mayor John Tory
“Acknowledging the three-year anniversary of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 comes with mixed feelings – encouragement, grief and deep gratitude for the work we have done together as a city. COVID-19 is still in our midst, and we have the tools to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our families. I urge everyone to continue taking the actions that we know can protect us, our family and friends from the most severe outcomes of COVID-19.”
– Dr. Eileen de Villa, Medical Officer of Health
“In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, all of us were continuously adapting to an evolving situation. As new information emerged and public health guidelines were updated, the City and its Team Toronto partners played a pivotal role in keeping Torontonians safe and informed, and three years later, we continue to benefit from the relentless efforts of so many. In my new role as City Councillor and Chair of Toronto’s Board of Health, I am committed to carrying this work forward, and encourage residents to join me in taking every action they can to minimize the impact of COVID-19 in our communities.”
– Councillor Chris Moise (Toronto Centre), Chair of the Board of Health
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.