Toronto declares state of emergency amid coronavirus pandemic

Mar 23 2020, 12:03 pm

Mayor John Tory declared a state of emergency for the City of Toronto amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the mayor said that he has been in communication with the members of City Council, and has spoken to both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford on the declaration.

Tory said he received advice in the morning from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa and the Office of Emergency Management’s Chief, Matthew Pegg.

“At 10 am this morning I spoke with Chief Pegg and Dr. de Villa who recommended a declaration of emergency in order to maximize the city’s possibility to win this battle,” Tory said. “I never hesitated to make this declaration if it came recommended by the City staff and health officials.”

According to the City, the declaration of a municipal emergency is part of the ongoing efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus and will ensure the municipal government “can continue to act and respond quickly to the pandemic and any other events that arise in the weeks ahead.”

Tory said the next few days are absolutely crucial for residents and this declaration is a way to “strongly” tell residents to take every precaution necessary.

The mayor added that individuals should only go shopping for essential goods once a week.

“We need to do everything we can to turn down the curve on COVID-19,” he said.

“This is a battle we must win and we can only do it if we do what is right by the health experts. We must take action now.”

He also asked all non-essential businesses to close, as the Government of Ontario ordered earlier on Monday.

For any non-essential business that have not closed and for those not taking physical distancing seriously, Tory called said it, “selfish and unacceptable.”

“The strongest message that I can as the mayor to our residents is to stay home and please change your behaviour.”

Declaring a state of emergency gives Tory the power to make decisions without council votes for the next 30 days.

state of emergency can be declared by any jurisdiction — federal, provincial, municipal — due to an “urgent or critical situation of a temporary nature.”

According to the Emergencies Act, any jurisdiction can use this authority if the emergency, “seriously endangers the lives, health or safety” of the residents.

The news comes a week after the Province of Ontario declared a state of emergency.

Since the announcement, all public events of over 50 people have been prohibited, and there is a mandated the closure of restaurants and bars until March 31. Restaurants can still provide take out.

As of March 22, the city has 220 confirmed cases, with 11 hospitalizations and the first death in Toronto.

“It is a tragic reminder that we are confronting a deadly virus. That is why it is so important that we all continue to do everything we can to keep COVID-19 from continuing to spread,” Tory said.

And on Monday, at least 15 new cases were confirmed in Toronto by the province.