Statement  from the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada on May 5, 2021


May 5, 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.

May 3rd to 9th is Mental Health Week across Canada. This year's theme "Get real about how you feel. Name it. Don't numb it" is about understanding and accepting our emotions, which are key to protecting and promoting mental health. More than a year of significant changes to our daily lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, has affected all of us in many ways, with some people experiencing challenges related to mental health and substance use.

Adding to our concern and frustration is the current situation with the third wave of COVID-19 continuing across Canada. But, it's important to remember that this situation will not last forever, that things will get better, and that there is help available now.

When we are experiencing uncomfortable emotions-whether it's anxiety or anger, stress or sadness, frustration or fear-it can feel like our only option is to push them down, put on a brave face and carry on. But, even in times of extreme anxiety and stress, we can protect our mental health. However you may be feeling, know that options and resources to help are available. This Mental Health Week, #GetReal about how you feel. And name it, don't numb it. There are a range of readily available resources:

  • Explore ways to protect your physical and mental health during COVID-19.
  • Visit for information, free courses, and helpful articles to learn more about mental health, substance use and wellbeing
  • Visit the Government of Canada's Wellness Together portal where people of all ages across the country can access free mental health and substance use supports, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are a broad range of resources available from information and practical tools to feeling better, to self-guided programs and peer-to-peer support to confidential sessions with social workers, psychologists and other professionals. Supports are provided online as well as by phone and text for those without internet access.
  • Learn more about Wellness Together Canada, by visiting: or simply text the word WELLNESS to the following numbers for immediate assistance:
  • 686868 for youth
  • 741741 for adults
  • Front Line Workers, text the word FRONTLINE to 741741

As COVID-19 activity continues in Canada, we are tracking a range of epidemiological indicators to monitor where the disease is most active, where it is spreading and how it is impacting the health of Canadians and public health, laboratory and healthcare capacity. At the same time, the Public Health Agency of Canada is providing Canadians with regular updates on COVID-19 vaccines administered, vaccination coverage and ongoing monitoring of vaccine safety across the country. The following is the latest summary on national numbers and trends, and the actions we all need to be taking to reduce infection rates, while vaccination programs expand for the protection of all Canadians.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 1,249,950 cases of COVID-19, including 82,700 active cases and 24,396 deaths reported in Canada; these cumulative numbers tell us about the overall burden of COVID-19 illness to date. They also tell us, together with results of serological studies, that a large majority of Canadians remain susceptible to COVID-19. Multiple safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, with unique advantages, are authorised for use in Canada. As vaccine delivery continues to ramp up, there is increasing optimism that widespread and lasting immunity can be achieved through COVID-19 vaccination. Benefits are being seen among groups targeted for priority vaccination and as vaccine coverage increases across Canada, we can expect further benefits to protect more Canadians over the coming weeks and months.

However, as COVID-19 activity is elevated or increasing in many jurisdictions, efforts and strengthened restrictions remain crucial to slow the spread and protect health system capacity. Strong public health measures must be sustained where COVID-19 is circulating and individual precautions are important everywhere. The latest national-level data show the decline in national case counts has slowed to a less than 2% decrease over the past week, with an average of 7,852 cases being reported daily (Apr 28-May 4).

Elevated infection rates continue to impact lagging COVID-19 severity indicators, particularly in areas with sustained high levels of disease activity. These persistently high numbers of severe and critical illnesses have placed a prolonged and heavy strain on the health system and healthcare workforce. Provincial and territorial data indicate that an average of 4,261 people with COVID-19 were being treated in Canadian hospitals each day during the most recent 7-day period (Apr 28-May 4) representing a 3% decrease over last week. This includes, on average 1,458 people who were being treated in intensive care units (ICU), which is 5% higher than the previous week. Although the mortality trend has recently leveled off, with a 7-day average of 48 deaths reported daily (Apr 28-May 4), continued high rates of infection and still rising critical care admissions could negatively impact this trend.

While COVID-19 continues to impact people of all ages in Canada, infection rates are highest among those under 60 years of age. Serious illness can occur at any age and evidence indicates that variants of concern can be associated with more severe illness and increased risk of death. In addition, circulation of COVID-19 in younger, more mobile and socially-connected adults is an ongoing risk for spread into high-risk populations and settings. Variants of concern (VOCs) now represent a majority of COVID-19 cases in Canada, with the B.1.1.7 variant now reported in all provinces and territories and accounting for over 95% of VOCs sequenced to date. As this variant spreads more quickly and has been associated with increased severity, and as vaccines may be less effective against other variants, such as the P.1 and B.1.351 variants, it is even more important to remain vigilant with all available measures to suppress spread.

As vaccine eligibility expands, Canadians are urged to get vaccinated and support others to get vaccinated as vaccines become available to them. However, regardless of our vaccination status, Canadians are urged to remain vigilant, continue following local public health advice, and consistently maintain individual practices that keep us and our families safer, even as we're beginning to see the positive impacts of COVID-19 vaccines: stay home/self-isolate if you have any symptoms, think about the risks and reduce non-essential activities and outings to a minimum, avoid all non-essential travel, and maintain individual protective practices of physical distancing, hand, cough and surface hygiene and wearing a well-fitted and properly worn face mask as appropriate (including in shared spaces, indoors or outdoors, with people from outside of your immediate household).

For more information regarding the risks and benefits of vaccination, I encourage Canadians to reach out to your local public health authorities, healthcare provider, or other trusted and credible sources, such as and Working together, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, Canada's Chief Medical Officers of Health and other health professionals across the country are closely monitoring vaccine safety, effectiveness and optimal use to adapt approaches. As the science and situation evolves, we are committed to providing clear and evidence-informed guidance in order to keep everyone in Canada safe and healthy.

Canadians can also go the extra mile by sharing credible information on COVID-19 risks and prevention practices and measures to reduce COVID-19 in communities and by downloading the COVID Alert app to break the cycle of infection and help limit the spread of COVID-19. Read my backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others, including information on COVID-19 vaccination.

*A previous version of this statement mistakenly stated that the number of Canadians being treated in Canadian hospitals ‘increased’ over the last week when it was meant to say ‘decreased’.


Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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