Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on October 1, 2021


October 1, 2021 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada 

Yesterday we paused to recognize the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Moving forward we can honour those lost and show compassion for Survivors by continuing to listen, learn and understand the ongoing impacts of residential schools on First Nations, Inuit and Métis people & communities. You can continue your learning journey by exploring more about the rich and diverse cultures, voices, experiences and histories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.

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.

Mental health supports are available:

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

Indigenous peoples across Canada can connect with the Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for immediate support and crisis intervention.

Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat.

Former students of Residential Schools and their families can call 1-866-925-4419 for mental health counselling as well as cultural and emotional supports.

This week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released updated guidance recommending an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech Comirnaty or Moderna Spikevax) booster dose be given to residents in long-term care and seniors in other congregate settings who have already received a complete two-dose primary series of COVID-19 vaccines. Boosting immunity levels in these individuals who are at higher risk of exposure and serious illness will help to maintain their protection against infection and severe outcomes.

Today is National Seniors Day, reminding us of the important contribution of elders in our lives and how we can give back everyday with our time, companionship and support.

The latest surveillance data show ongoing regional variation in disease activity, but overall, epidemic growth appears to be fairly stable nationally. Over the past week, there were an average of over 4,350 new cases being reported daily across Canada. However, severe illness trends are still increasing, with an average of more than 2,400 people with COVID-19 being treated in our hospitals each day, including almost 800 in intensive care units, and 38 deaths were reported daily. COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations are predominantly occurring among unvaccinated people; from mid-August to early-September, the average weekly rate of new COVID-19 cases was 10 times higher, while the average weekly rate of hospitalisations was 38 times higher in unvaccinated people than in fully vaccinated people.

Although very high vaccination coverage is needed to offset the highly contagious Delta variant, COVID-19 vaccines are making a substantial contribution to population protection. Where vaccination coverage is lower and rapid epidemic growth is occurring, public health measures are crucial to rapidly reduce contact rates that fuel virus spread. Administering vaccines and building up immunity across the population takes time, but reducing the pool of susceptible people through vaccination is also vitally important for preventing severe and/or potentially long-term complications of COVID-19 infection that put pressure across the health system. Increasing vaccination coverage quickly can also help reduce the duration and overall impact of the Delta wave on healthcare, schools, businesses and other essential services. Experience from around the world has shown that what works best is a combined approach of achieving high vaccination coverage, making indoor spaces safer with improved ventilation and individual layers of protection, such as masking and spacing, and reapplying public health measures to slow the spread and minimise severe illness where the virus is surging.

This week, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released updated guidance recommending an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine booster dose be given to residents in long-term care and seniors in other congregate settings, who are at higher risk of exposure and serious illness. NACI is also advising that COVID-19 vaccines may be given at the same time as, or any time before or after, other vaccines. This is great news and means that COVID-19 vaccines can be co-administered with other vaccines. This will make it easier for people to get their influenza vaccine this fall, as well as catch up with other routine vaccines that may have been delayed during the pandemic.

Thanks to the added protection of COVID-19 vaccines, this is the first time since the pandemic began that we will gather in larger numbers indoors this fall and winter. While our protection against COVID-19 has been bolstered by vaccines, we also need to think about the return of other respiratory infections. In addition to getting up-to-date with recommended vaccines, such as influenza and other routine vaccines for children and adults, we can stay healthier by keeping up with hand and cough hygiene practices, getting the best ventilation possible in our indoor spaces, and staying home and away from others if we develop symptoms.

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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