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Canada marks national day of observance for COVID-19

Last Updated Mar 11, 2021 at 8:50 am PDT

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, November 19, 2020. Ontario has entered the second wave of coronavirus infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canadians have stepped up since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic a year ago

National Day of Observance declared for March 11 in Canada in honour of lives lost to COVID-19

Opposition leaders join prime minister in remembering those lost to COVID-19

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Canada has declared March 11 a National Day of Observance in honour of those lost to COVID-19.

It also marks one year since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

More than 2.5 million people around the world have died as a result of the coronavirus over the past year — more than 22,000 of them in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the House of Commons Thursday to honour those lost.

“Grandparents and parents, brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues — each one was loved, each one was special,” he said.

Recognizing it’s been a tough year, Trudeau said it’s one we have faced together, as Canadians. From the hard efforts of frontline workers, to how people and companies came together to make face masks and other PPE, he said Canadians have stepped up for their communities in a number of ways.

“Even as COVID-19 took hold of our planet, even as this new work took over our lives, we found ourselves talking about other words, too. About words that weren’t new at all,” Trudeau said. “Sacrifice and solidarity, compassion and community: When the pandemic hit last year, these words — words that have defined Canadians for generations — were suddenly given new meaning.”

Opposition leaders also joined the prime minister in remembering those who’ve died, as well as the sacrifices of healthcare workers and other Canadians.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole underscored how the coronavirus has “caused a crisis of historic proportions here in Canada and around the world.”

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He also talked about the impact the pandemic has had on the economy, noting the many people who were put out of work, as well as the other health crises Canadians are facing.

“In British Columbia there have been 60 per cent more deaths from the opioid epidemic than from COVID-19. Increasing rates of domestic violence have been the shadow pandemic this past year. Youth mental health presenting as anxiety or eating disorders are alarmingly on the rise,” he said.

The Tory leader also took some time to drop criticisms about the government’s response on issues like vaccines.

“Like many Canadians, we’re frustrated by the slower pace of vaccines than elsewhere, but we want the government to succeed for the health, well being of Canadians, so that we can get our lives back to normal, so that we can address the unemployment, inequality, and the strain,” O’Toole added.

Meanwhile, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh noted seniors were the most impacted by the coronavirus.

“We’ve all been impacted, we’ve all felt this pandemic in some way. But I want to take a moment to think about those who’ve been hardest-hit by this pandemic, those who have felt the brunt of this pandemic, and it is with great sadness when we reflect on who felt this pandemic the most and who bore the brunt of this pandemic, we come up with the answer: our seniors. Particularly the seniors living in long-term care were those who bore the brunt of this pandemic with the worst conditions and with their lives,” Singh said, calling this a “national shame.”

Canada has recorded more than 900,000 cases of COVID-19 so far.