Mayor John Tory declared a municipal state of emergency that had been in effect for 777 days, calling it “just one more sign that the city is returning to a more normal state of existence.”
Tory made the announcement on Monday morning at a press conference outside Toronto City Hall.
While the fight against COVID-19 is far from over, removing the emergency declaration marks a “important juncture” in the virus’s more than two-year fight.
“We are on the right track but I think we have to remind ourselves every single day that this is not over. So we continue to do the work,” he said. “But I think the sort of stress level and the acute nature of the pandemic has receded a bit and it allows us to have days like today where we can remove the state of emergency while still continuing with just as much effort on things like vaccination.”
Tory said that the formal declaration of an emergency back on March 23, 2020 gave the city added flexibility with regards to staffing, ultimately allowing more than 1,700 of its workers to be temporarily reassigned to help support vaccination efforts and maintain critical services.
However, all but 40 of those people have returned to their original jobs as the city transitions away from an emergency-oriented response to COVID-19.
As part of that transition, Toronto’s Board of Health will meet on May 16 to vote on a motion which would make its hyper-local vaccination campaign a permanent program, contingent on additional funding being provided by the province.
“The declaration signalled our intent to fight COVID-19 with everything we had and now two years, one month and 17 days later and more than seven doses of vaccine later there is no doubt that our collective efforts have been successful in getting us to a better place,” Tory said. “I do want people to understand that by taking away our state of emergency in the city we are not ending our fight against COVID. We know that COVID-19 is still active in the city and the work that we have been undertaking will not stop.”