Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on May 14, 2021

Speech

May 14, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

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.

On a national level, we're seeing hopeful signs that we've passed the peak of the 3rd wave. The latest 7-day moving average of daily case counts is more than 20% lower than the peak in April, dropping to less than 7,000 cases daily for the first time since early April. We are also beginning to see reductions in the number of people experiencing severe and critical illness, with less than 4,000 people with COVID-19 being treated in our hospitals each day, including less than 1,400 in intensive care, and an average of 48 deaths being reported daily. This is important progress, but the numbers are still too high. We must drive infection rates down much lower, while getting our vaccination rates as high as possible.

To date, over 17 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across Canada. This is great news and improving everyday, but we can't let go of the public health measures and individual precautions that are our essential safety ropes to prevent another resurgence on this tricky path.

As our modelling shows, by maintaining control measures until at least 75% of eligible adults have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and at least 20% of these have had their second dose, we would drive infection rates low enough and raise vaccine protection high enough to allow for lifting of restrictions without overwhelming heath systems. But one dose of a two dose vaccine series is not enough to maximise protection. We need to aim for at least 75% of everyone who is eligible for vaccination getting fully vaccinated - and we can't go half way, so it is very important to get that second dose. The good news is that our first target is within sight. Four weeks ago, less than 25% of adults had received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and now we're at just over 50%. This month with significant increases in vaccine supply, ramping up of vaccination programs, and Canadians coming forward as well as encouraging others, we're making great strides and can look forward to enjoying an outdoor summer that gets us back into many of the activities we've been missing.

In very general terms, this means we'll be able to get back to small outdoor gatherings with family and friends. Camping, outdoors sports, and small reunions at picnics, parks and patios will begin to bring us together in-person again. We will still have to follow local public health advice and keep up with individual measures like physical distancing and wearing a mask as recommended.

Heading into the fall, as more and more Canadians get fully vaccinated, giving us broader protection across our communities, we'll be able to look forward to moving indoors together. This would mean getting back to indoor work, in-person learning at colleges and universities and recreational activities as well as finally being able to get back to the in-person, multi-household celebrations and holidays we've longed for.

To get to this better summer and fall, we need to keep doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our communities, ease the pressure on the system, and help bring an end to this pandemic - this includes rolling up your sleeve to get vaccinated as soon as you are able!

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.

Contacts

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada
613-957-2983
hc.media.sc@canada.ca

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