Toronto Declares State of Emergency

There is no doubt about it - Torontonians are pulling together during these unprecedented times. And while you are doing your part by staying home and practicing social distancing, at the City we are doing our part by working around the clock in order to protect the health and safety of everyone in our community.

I would like to thank Mayor John Tory for his leadership during this difficult time, and for taking the necessary step today of declaring a state of emergency. 

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. Continue taking every precaution in protecting yourselves – stay home, stay safe, and only venture out to buy essential supplies once a week. Even better, order online if at all possible.

While we thank the residents and businesses who are listening to public health advice and practicing 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, and like all decisions during this time, was made with the advice of our public health experts, including our Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, and the head of the City’s Office of Emergency Management, Fire Chief Matthew Pegg. It is part of an overall collaborative effort and cooperation with every level of government. 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.

Right now across Toronto, our healthcare workers are confronting the reality of COVID-19. This emergency declaration is being made 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 doesn’t 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.

As you know, this situation continues to change day-by-day, hour-by-hour, but we remain focused. There is a fierce urgency now as we collectively respond to COVID-19, and if we all work together we will flatten the curve. We will get through this.