News Release
March 23, 2020

Today, Mayor John Tory declared a State of Emergency in the city of Toronto after receiving advice this morning from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health and the Office of Emergency Management.

Through his office, the Mayor has also been in communication with the members of City Council, and has spoken to both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford.

The declaration of a municipal emergency is part of the City’s ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and will ensure the municipal government can continue to act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead.

We know the number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase in our city and that the next few days are absolutely critical in our ongoing efforts to slow down the spread of COVID-19. In making this declaration, Mayor Tory strongly encourages our residents to continue taking every precaution in protecting themselves – stay home, stay safe, and only venture out to buy essential supplies once a week. Even better, order online if at all possible.

While the Mayor thanks the residents and businesses who are listening to public health advice and practising social distancing, we know from our public health professionals that there are many who are continuing to put their health and the health of our community at risk.

This declaration sends the strongest possible message to our residents to stay home and to change their behaviour.

This decision was not taken lightly. It is part of an overall collaborative effort and cooperation with the Government of Canada led by Prime Minister Trudeau and the Government of Ontario led by Premier Ford – both of whom the Mayor has worked very well with throughout this crisis.

It also comes after we learned on the weekend about the first death of a Toronto resident related to COVID-19. It is a tragic reminder that we are confronting a deadly virus. That is why it is so important that we all continue to do everything we can to keep COVID-19 from continuing to spread.

The Mayor continues to ask all non-essential businesses to close – as the Medical Officer of Health has urged publicly – and as the Government of Ontario has ordered. To further contain the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario Government has ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective as of Tuesday, March 24th at 11:59 p.m. Mayor Tory supports this action by the province and has been clear that he will support further recommendations and orders from the Medical Officer of Health and the provincial and federal governments if people do not comply with the need to stay home.

Later this afternoon, Dr. Eileen de Villa and Chief Matthew Pegg will outline, in greater detail, what this declaration means for essential and critical workers, and how it assists in the City’s operations as it works to protect Torontonians.

Right now across Toronto, our healthcare workers are confronting the reality of COVID-19. The Mayor is making this emergency declaration in support of our healthcare workers and all City workers focused on this crisis, to make sure we flatten the curve, and protect our healthcare system.

While the declaration does not change the Level 3 status of the City’s Emergency Operations Centre, it does provide City staff with the necessary flexibility to access resources in a more timely way so it can continue to keep the city functioning and safe.

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 answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.


“We are declaring a State of Emergency as part of the City’s ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to ensure the municipal government can continue to act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead. I know this is an incredibly tough time for residents across our city. I want them to know that we are doing everything we can at the City to fight this virus while continuing to deliver our essential and critical services. I remain confident that we will get through this pandemic by continuing to work together and all following the advice of our public health professionals.”
– Mayor John Tory

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 or follow us on Twitter at, on Instagram at or on Facebook at

Media Relations