Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on Tuesday, March 23, 2021


The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create stress and anxiety for many Canadians, particularly those who do not have ready access to their regular support networks. Through the Wellness Together Canada online portal, people of all ages across the country can access immediate, free and confidential mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This week, as vaccine delivery begins to ramp up at an accelerated pace there are hopeful signs for better days ahead. However, increasing case counts, a rising proportion of new variant cases, and shifting severity trends are cause for continued caution.

To date, over 938,000 cases of COVID-19, including over 22,700 deaths have been reported across Canada. Over the past week, there’s been a further 15 percent increase in daily cases, with an average of over 3,600 new cases daily. Increased infection rates are starting to impact severe outcome trends, including hospitalisations and deaths. Over the past two weeks, these lagging indicators of COVID-19 severity have levelled or increased. On average over the past week, 31 deaths were reported daily and over 2,100 people with COVID-19 being treated in our hospitals each day, including over 580 in critical care. To date, close to 5,500 variant of concern cases have been reported across Canada, with the B.1.1.7 variant accounting for over 90 percent of these to date. As the number of new variant cases continue to increase, they account for a greater proportion of COVID-19 cases across Canada, reminding us of how tight the vaccines versus variants race continues to be.

Though we are all tired of the tricks and turns of this virus, we have progressed and met each challenge along the way, and we’re better and stronger for it. With Spring here and vaccines rolling out, we’ve got more daylight hours and much cause for optimism for the warmer days ahead. 

The vaccines that we prioritized to protect high-risk populations and those who help keep our pandemic response, society and economy running are beginning to show benefits. Prioritising seniors in long-term care, followed by those in the community, has contributed to much reduced infection rates among seniors. Just as they have paved the way for the life we have in Canada through hard work and sacrifice, seniors are once again showing us their leadership and determination by rolling up their sleeves for COVID-19 vaccines.

Though it may not be your turn yet, there are many ways younger adults can pay it forward and help family, friends and neighbours get vaccinated. Many may have already helped a parent or grandparent book their vaccination appointment. You now have experience in navigating your local vaccination rollout system, so there may be others that you can reach out to – working online, over the phone, or in other ways, you can help others!

Like so many areas of health, no one is protected until we are all protected. Be a vaccination champion, by providing credible information on COVID-19 vaccines or practical assistance to help others. As we look with increasing optimism toward our future, following public health advice and maintaining individual protective practices remains important, for keeping us all safer and clearing the runway for vaccines to do their part!

Read my backgrounder to access COVID-19 Information and Resources, including information on vaccination and ways to reduce your risk of infection and spreading the virus to others.


Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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