COVID-19 pandemic in Canada
The COVID-19 pandemic in Canada is part of the ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was confirmed to have reached Canada on January 27, 2020, after an individual who had returned to Toronto from Wuhan, Hubei, China, tested positive.
|COVID-19 pandemic in Canada|
|Disease||Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Index case||Toronto, Ontario|
|Arrival date||January 22, 2020|
(1 year, 2 months, 2 weeks and 6 days)
In early April 2020, the Government of Canada released modelling anticipating between 11,000–22,000 deaths over the course of the pandemic, assuming "stronger epidemic control". Most cases over the course of the pandemic have been in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. Confirmed cases have been reported in all of Canada's provinces and territories. Until March 2020, all cases had been linked to travel to a country with a substantial number of cases. The first case of community transmission in Canada was confirmed in British Columbia on March 5. In March 2020, as cases of community transmission were confirmed, all of Canada's provinces and territories declared states of emergency. Provinces and territories have, to varying degrees, implemented school and daycare closures, prohibitions on gatherings, closures of non-essential businesses, restrictions on entry. Canada severely restricted its border access, barring travellers from all countries with some exceptions. The federal Minister of Health invoked the Quarantine Act, introduced following the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak. The act has been used for the first time in its legislative history, legally requiring all travellers (excluding essential workers) returning to the country to self-isolate for 14 days.
By mid to late summer of 2020, the country saw a steady decline in active cases until, beginning late summer and through autumn, the country saw a resurgence of cases in all provinces and territories. Prime Minister Trudeau declared on September 23, 2020 that Canada was experiencing a second wave of the virus. New restrictions and reactions from provincial governments were put in place once again as cases increased, including variations of regional lockdowns. In late November there was a disbandment of the Atlantic Bubble, a travel-restricted area of the country (formed of the four Atlantic provinces: New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador) which had been established in July 2020. The federal government passed legislation to approve further modified economic aid for businesses and individuals.
Nation-wide cases, hospitalizations and deaths spiked preceding and following the Christmas and holiday season in December 2020 and January 2021. Alarmed by hospital capacity issues, fatalities and new cases, heavy restrictions (such as lockdowns and curfews) were put in place in affected areas (primarily Ontario, Quebec and Alberta) and across the country, which has resulted in active cases beginning to steadily decline, reaching a plateau in active cases in mid-February 2021. During a third wave of the virus, cases began rising across most provinces west of Atlantic Canada in mid-March, prompting further lockdowns and restrictions in the most populous provinces like Ontario and Quebec. Due to a relatively low volume of cases in the Atlantic provinces the special travel restricted area known as the Atlantic Bubble will resume April 19, 2021.
Following Health Canada's approval of the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and later the mRNA-1273 vaccine developed by Moderna, mass vaccinations began nation-wide December 14, 2020. On February 26, 2021 Health Canada approved the Oxford–AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use and on March 5, 2021 additionally approved the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for a total of four approved vaccines in the nation.
Background and epidemiology
On January 12, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, which was reported to the WHO on December 31, 2019.
|COVID-19 pandemic in Canada by province and territory, 10 April 2021 2145 UTC ( )|
|Province||Population||Tests||Per k||Cases||Per m||Recov.||Deaths||Per m||Active||Ref.|
|Prince Edward Island||159,713||124,796||781.4||162||1,014||156||0||0||6|||
|Newfoundland and Labrador||520,998||126,481||242.8||1,029||1,967||1,009||6||11.5||10|||
On January 1, 2020, the WHO set up the IMST (Incident Management Support Team) across all three levels of the organization: headquarters, regional headquarters and country level, putting the organization on an emergency footing for dealing with the outbreak.
On January 7, when it appeared that there was a health crisis emerging in Wuhan, Public Health Canada advised travellers to China to avoid contact with animals, noting that they were very carefully monitoring the situation but there wasn't evidence of what caused the illness, or how it's spread.
On January 14, a person in Thailand was the first patient outside of China who was confirmed to have COVID-19.
On January 15, the federal government activated its Emergency Operations Centre.
On January 17, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) indicated plans were in progress "to implement signage" in the Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver airports to raise awareness of the virus, and that there would be an additional health screening question added to the electronic kiosks for passengers arriving from central China. The agency noted the overall risk to Canadians was low and there were no direct flights from Wuhan to Canada. The CBSA said it would not be, at that time, implementing extra screening measures, but would "monitor the situation closely".
On January 23, the federal Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, said that five or six people were being monitored for signs of the virus. That same day, Dr. Theresa Tam was a member of the WHO committee that broadcast that it was too early to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The following day, in Wuhan, China, construction began on a new hospital to treat COVID-19 patients. The hospital took only 10 days to build and was widely reported around the world.
Timeline of outbreak in Canada
In Canada, Health Canada is responsible for approval and regulation of vaccines (and other pharmaceuticals), while the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is responsible for public health, emergency preparedness and response, and infectious and chronic disease control and prevention. Vaccines are approved by Health Canada, purchased by the Government of Canada and distributed by PHAC to individual provinces and territories in tranches based on various factors such as population size and prioritized peoples.From about mid-January until mid-February, both the Pfizer–BioNTech and Moderna did not ship the agreed upon quantities of secured vaccines to Canada and other countries, due to manufacturing challenges. By February 18, Major General Dany Fortin, who leads vaccine logistics at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), announced that the vaccine delivery was back on track and that there will now be an "abundance of supplies" which will result in a "significant scaling-up of immunization plans in provinces."
|COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada by province and territory, April 11, 2021 ()|
|Province||Population||Doses allocated to province[a]||Doses administered[b]||People fully vaccinated[c]||Ref|
|Prince Edward Island||159,713||44,265||30,937||8,241|||
|Newfoundland and Labrador||520,998||144,700||105,652||9,674|||
- Each province is distributed an allocation of doses from the Federal government, to be administered by their own Provincial vaccination program.
- Two doses are currently required for full vaccination the three approved vaccines in use.
- Full vaccination of the three approved vaccines in use currently require two doses.
This section needs to be updated. The reason given is: Information needs to be updated to better reflect developments since April–May/reopenings/new surges.October 2020)(
The federal government activated its Emergency Operations Centre on January 15. The federal government's pandemic response is based on two primary documents: the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Preparedness planning guidelines, which outlines risks and measures to address a viral disease, and the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Public Health Response Plan for Biological Events, which includes identifying, tracking, and ensuring rapid access to medical care. As of February 27, the response plan was at level 3 (escalated).
On March 18, the federal Minister of Health, Patty Hajdu, announced that the federal government had signed an interim order to speed up access to COVID-19 test kits that would allow provincial labs to increase testing. The test kits are made by Switzerland-based Roche Molecular Systems and Thermo Fisher Scientific. According to Health Canada, "an Interim Order is one of the fastest mechanisms available to the Government of Canada to help make health products available to address larger scale public health emergencies. This Interim Order provides the Minister with the flexibility to consider the urgent circumstances relating to the need for the medical device, authorizations granted by foreign regulatory authorities, or possible new uses for medical devices that are approved in Canada."
On March 19, 2020, the federal government announced that it had added to Trudeau's March 11 announcement of $275 million in funding for an additional 49 projects to bring the total to 96 research projects that will focus on developing and implementing measures to detect, manage, and reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
On March 20, as part of the announcement on Canada's industrial strategy (see below), Trudeau stated that the National Research Council will work with small- and medium-sized companies on health research to fight the virus.
On April 6, Tam began to suggest that the use of non-medical face masks in public could be an "additional measure" to "protect others around you in situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain", but that this is not proven to protect the wearer, and is considered complementary to all existing health guidance issued thus far.
Long-term care homes
Long-term care homes have been impacted heavily by the pandemic; on April 13, Tam reported that at least half of COVID-19 deaths in Canada had been linked to long-term care homes (with the exact number varying by province), and that "these deaths will continue to increase, even as the epidemic growth rate slows down. Tam cited factors such as outside visitors, communal living spaces, and staff being transferred among multiple facilities, as particular vulnerabilities. The pandemic has exacerbated pre-existing staffing issues at some facilities, including underpaid staff, and being understaffed in general. On April 28, Tam stated that as many of 79 percent of Canada's COVID-19 fatalities occurred in long-term care homes.
Health Canada has issued recommendations for long-term care homes, encouraging them to restrict outside visitors and volunteers, restrict employees from being transferred between multiple facilities, provide personal protective equipment, enforce physical distancing during meals, screen staff and essential visitors, On April 15, Trudeau announced that the federal government planned to provide additional pay to long-term care workers.
Canadian Armed Forces
Travel and entry restrictions
On March 14, Canada recommended against any international travel, and advised those returning from outside of Canada, except for essential workers (such as flight crew), to self-isolate for 14 days. The Quarantine Act was invoked by Hajdu on March 26, making self-isolation a legal mandate for travellers (excluding essential workers) returning to the country, and also prohibiting those who are symptomatic from using public transit as transport to their place of self-isolation, and prohibiting self-isolation in settings where they may come in contact with those who are vulnerable (people with pre-existing conditions and the elderly).
Since March 16, only Canadian citizens and their immediate families, permanent residents, and U.S. citizens are allowed to enter the country. The only exceptions are flight crews, diplomats, and trade and commerce. Travellers showing COVID-19 symptoms are not allowed to board flights into Canada, regardless of their citizenship. International flights to Canada from outside the Caribbean, Mexico, and the U.S. were instructed to land at either Calgary International Airport, Montréal–Trudeau International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, or Vancouver International Airport.
Since March 20, Canada and the United States have temporarily restricted all non-essential travel across their border, while maintaining supply chains between both countries; On April 16, Trudeau stated that the Canada/U.S. border restrictions would remain in place "for a significant amount of time"; the next day, it was reported that Canada and the United States had agreed to extend their entry restrictions, which were to expire on April 21, for an additional 30 days beyond that date. The border restrictions were later extended until at least September 21, 2020.
Since March 30, individuals showing COVID-19 symptoms must be refused boarding on domestic flights (10 seats or more) and passenger trains. This excludes buses and intercity passenger rail services. Since April 20, all travellers are required to wear face masks while departing and arriving on air travel, including during security screenings. Those who do not comply will be prevented from proceeding.
As the border with the United States continued to be closed to non-essential travel, the Canadian government announced plans in October to allow family members to reunite under compassionate terms. Within the country, the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador established the Atlantic Bubble, restricting travel from other provinces, but allowing free movement amongst residents of the member provinces. Due to the second wave, the Atlantic Bubble was suspended in November 2020.
On January 6, 2021, the federal government announced that all incoming travellers must present proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test conducted within 72 hours of their departure time in order to board flights into Canada.
On January 29, 2021, due to concerns surrounding SARS-Cov2 variants, Trudeau announced a series of new travel restrictions. Travellers arriving in Canada will be required to receive a COVID-19 PCR test on arrival, and must quarantine at an "approved hotel" at their own expense while they await test results or recover, and are subject to "increased surveillance" during the remainder of the mandatory 14-day isolation period. On February 12, it was announced a third PCR test would be required at the end of the 14-day isolation period. The new rules for international travel will go into effect on February 22.
A First Ministers' meeting scheduled for March 12 and 13 was cancelled after Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire entered self-isolation. The Canadian House of Commons was suspended between March 14 and April 20, immediately after passing the new North American free trade deal. The federal budget, previously scheduled for March 20, was also suspended.
Bank of Canada rate changes
In March 2020, the Bank of Canada twice lowered its overnight rate target by 50 basis points—first to 1.25 percent on March 4, and then to 0.75 percent on March 13. It cited the "negative shocks to Canada's economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices" in explaining the move.
On March 27, the Bank lowered the rate a third time to 0.25 percent, citing "serious consequences for Canadians and for the economy" due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bank also launched a program to "alleviate strains in the short-term funding markets" and another program to acquire Government of Canada securities at a minimum of $5 billion per week.
On March 18, the federal government announced an $82-billion response package with a variety of measures. On March 25, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act received royal assent from Governor General Julie Payette.
The measures in this first package included:
- Canada Child Benefit (CCB): Payments for the 2019–20-year were increased by $300 per child.
- Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit: The maximum annual GST credit payment amount for the 2019–20 year was doubled.
- Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): This new benefit provided a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months for those who had lost their job, were sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents staying home to take care of their kids.
- Canada Student Loans: A six-month moratorium was placed on repayment.
- Temporary business wage subsidy: Eligible small employers received a three-month 10 percent wage subsidy.
- Tax flexibility: The income tax filing deadline was also extended from April 30, 2020 to June 1, 2020. Tax payments were deferred to September 2020.
The CERB launched on April 6. On April 15, Trudeau announced that the CERB would be extended to workers making up to $1,000 per month, and that the government planned to work with the provinces to implement salary top-ups for essential workers who make less than $2,500 per month.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) was announced on April 1, an expanded version of the temporary business wage subsidy. The Parliament reconvened on April 11 to pass the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, No. 2 on division. It implemented the CEWS—which allows eligible companies to receive a 75 percent subsidy on each of their employees' wages (up to their first $58,700) for 12 weeks retroactive to March 15.
Trudeau introduced new financial aid programs on April 10, including the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) which offers loans, interest-free until the end of 2022, of up to $40,000 for small- and medium-sized businesses. The CEBA was expanded on April 16 to make more businesses eligible.[how?]
On April 30, Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux issued a report projecting the federal deficit for fiscal year 2020 could be in excess of $252 billion, based on nearly $146 billion in spending on federal aid measures.
On October 12, 2020, the federal government rolled out a new income support program after the ending of CERB, the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB). Another program, the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) supports Canadians that have been working but have to take a break to care for dependents (a child below 12 years of age or a disabled family member). The benefit only applies if schools and care centres are closed, or the dependent fell sick, or contracted COVID-19.
On July 3, 2020, the Ethics Commissioner announced an investigation into Trudeau and the government's decision to have WE Charity administer the summer student grant program. We Charity was criticized for its close ties to the Trudeau family. On the same day, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Bardish Chagger, announced that WE Charity would no longer be administering the Canada Student Service Grant program.
On March 20, 2020, the government announced a plan to ramp up production of medical equipment, switching assembly lines to produce ventilators, masks and other personal protective gear. Companies will be able to access funds through the government's Strategic Innovation Fund. The PM stated that Canadian medical supply firms Thornhill Medical, Medicom and Spartan Bioscience were looking to expand production. In order to address shortages and supply-chain disruption, Canada passed emergency legislation that waived-patent protection, giving the government, and companies or organizations that it selects, the right to produce patented products without permission from the patent holder. According to Innovation, Science and Industry minister Navdeep Bains, "the country's entire industrial policy will be refocused to prioritize the fight against COVID-19".
During the COVID-19 pandemic, 34% of people consulted their doctors over the phone. In May 2020, Justin Trudeau announced an investment of $240.5 million to support the growth of virtual care and mental health tools in Canada.
States of emergency
|Province or territory||Emergency declared||Gatherings banned||Border status [a]||Face mask compulsory [b]||Stay-at-home ordered||Closures ordered [c]||Sources|
|Alberta||March 17, 2020
& Nov. 24, 2020
|All gatherings||Open||December 13, 2020
August 1, 2020 (locally)[d]
|British Columbia||March 18, 2020||Indoor gatherings[e]||Open||November 19, 2020||No||Indoor dining|||
|Manitoba||March 20, 2020||Over 5||Screened[f]||November 2, 2020
September 25, 2020 (locally)
|New Brunswick||March 19, 2020||Over 10||Screened[g]||October 9, 2020||Regional[h]
(April 11, 2021)
|Newfoundland and Labrador||March 18, 2020||Over 5||Screened[g]||August 24, 2020 (age 5+)||No||Indoor dining
|Northwest Territories||March 18, 2020||All gatherings||Restricted||No||No||Indoor dining
|Nova Scotia||March 22, 2020||Over 10||Screened[g]||July 31, 2020||No||Indoor dining
|Nunavut||March 18, 2020||All gatherings||Restricted[i]||No||No||?|||
|Ontario||March 17, 2020
& Jan. 12, 2021
& April 8, 2021
|All gatherings with minimal exceptions[j]||Open||October 3, 2020
July 7, 2020 (locally)[k]
(April 8, 2021)
|Indoor and outdoor dining||[m][n][o]|
|Prince Edward Island||March 16, 2020||Over 5||Screened[g]||November 20, 2020||No||Indoor dining
|Quebec||March 12, 2020||All gatherings||Regional restrictions[p]||July 18, 2020 (age 12+)
August 24, 2020 (age 10+)
(January 9, 2021)
|Saskatchewan||March 18, 2020||Over 10||Open||November 19, 2020||No||Indoor dining
|Yukon||March 18, 2020||Over 10||Screened||December 1, 2020||No||Indoor dining
- Refers to status of internal borders only. Although the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees broad mobility rights to Canadian citizens, during a state of emergency provincial and territorial governments can effectively restrict or deny entry due to primarily their lawful authority to, at their discretion, refuse any person permission to use their roads:
Open: No restrictions on entry from other Canadian provinces and territories.
Screened: Health checks and/or self-isolation mandatory for persons entering from other Canadian provinces and territories.
Restricted: Entry prohibited for non-residents without a valid reason to enter the province or territory.
Regional: Entry restricted to (a) specific region(s) of the province or territory.
- Unless otherwise indicated, face masks are compulsory for ages 2 and up. Generally, several exceptions apply.
- For most provinces, takeout and delivery orders are still permitted even though dine-in section is closed.
- Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Banff, Canmore, Jasper, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Strathcona County, Leduc, Beaumont, Fort Saskatchewan, Chestermere, Cochrane, Airdrie, Okotoks, Edson, Sturgeon County
- Outdoor gatherings of up to 10 are now allowed as of March 11, 2021.
- Travellers from outside of the province are required to isolate for 14 days.
- Effective July 3, the Atlantic Provinces have formed a travel bubble that allows travel between the four provinces of the Atlantic region. Visitors outside of this bubble must continue to follow all public health orders.
- In Zone 4, the Edmundston and Upper Madawaska areas entered a full lockdown on April 11, 2021.
- Nunavut is not accessible from the rest of Canada by road. Its entry restrictions are therefore effectively enforced with respect to prospective non-resident air travellers by federal transportation officers serving at airports from which flights depart for the territory. Returning Nunavummiut and others permitted to enter the territory are required to isolate at designated hotels in the city of departure for fourteen days prior to boarding a flight.
- All gatherings banned except for religious ceremonies capped at 15% and outdoor gatherings capped at 5 people
- On July 7, 2020, Toronto and Ottawa implemented mandatory mask by-laws. Most other regions in Ontario subsequently implemented such by-laws until October 3, 2020, when the entire province of Ontario mandated masks.
- Summary of stay-at-home orders (SAHOs) for Ontario:
March 24, 2020: First SAHO; only 74 "essential" business categories can operate.
April 5, 2020: "Essential" businesses reduced to 44.
June 12, 2020: Ontario enters Stage 2; some restrictions relaxed, except for GTHA and select regions.
June 25, 2020: Rest of Ontario enters Stage 2, except Leamington and Kingsville, which enter on July 7, 2020.
November 23, 2020: Toronto and Peel enter lockdown, similar to SAHO, followed by York and Windsor-Essex (Dec. 14, 2020), and Hamilton (Dec. 21, 2020).
December 26, 2020: Second province-wide lockdown.
January 14, 2021: Second SAHO.
February 10, 2021: End of second State of Emergency, but SAHO remains, except for green level regions: Kingston area, Renfrew, and Hastings Prince Edward.
February 16, 2021: End of SAHO for another 26 regions: 20 at red or orange levels, four at yellow, and two at green. Niagara, at grey level, enters lockdown. SAHO remains for Toronto, Peel, York and North Bay.
February 22, 2021: End of SAHO for York, which is now at the red level.
March 1, 2021: Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka enter lockdown, while Niagara moves to the red level.
March 8, 2021: SAHO ends across Ontario, and Simcoe Muskoka returns to the red level. Toronto and Peel return to a lockdown at the grey level, which only allows limited non-essential retail.
March 29, 2021: Hamilton moves into lockdown, at the grey level. Toronto, Peel, Sudbury, Lambton and Thunder Bay have the same lockdown status.
April 3, 2021: Provincewide shutdown begins.
April 8, 2021: Third SAHO begins provincewide, with further restrictions compared to second SAHO.
May 9, 2021: Earliest possible end date for the third SAHO.
- Effective July 27, daycares can open if they have 15 people (staff and children) per group.
- Stage 3 is effective July 17 in most regions, July 24 in a few other regions, July 31 in Peel and Toronto, and August 12 in Windsor-Essex.
- Dancing is prohibited but if the dancers are hired by the bar they are allowed to dance.
- Essential travel only in Nunavik and James Bay Territory
- Québec implemented a curfew as of January 9, 2021, forcing residents to stay at home from 8 PM to 5 AM in "Maximum Alert" (Red) zones and from 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m in "Alert" (Orange) zones, with exceptions for travelling to work, pharmacies, gas stations and walking dogs. On March 26, 2021, Quebec placed some regions under the Early Warning (yellow) zone, which has no curfew. On April 1, 2021, several "Alert" regions were moved to "Maximum Alert", with additional non-essential closures.
On March 12, Quebec declared a public health emergency, requiring international travellers to self-isolate for 14 days and banning gatherings of 250 people. The ban has been extended to all gatherings outside workplaces and retail.
On March 16, Prince Edward Island declared a public health emergency. Alberta and Ontario declared emergencies on March 17, followed by British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Saskatchewan and Yukon on March 18. New Brunswick, Manitoba, and Nova Scotia declared emergencies on March 19, March 20, and March 22 respectively.
These emergencies allowed provinces to ban gatherings and require international travellers to self-isolate. On March 25, mandatory self-isolation was imposed federally, making it a legal requirement for all provinces who had not done so already.
New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and have all restricted entry through interprovincial borders, prohibiting the entry of non-residents without valid reason. Quebec has additionally restricted travel into 9 of its 18 regions and parts of 3 other regions. The borders of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador are being screened, while also requiring travellers to self-isolate for 14 days upon entering the province.
Schools and universities
Public schools (under Provincial control) across the country quickly followed suit and closed.
Laurentian University in Greater Sudbury, was the first to voluntarily suspended classes and moved to online instruction on March 12. This was quickly followed by many other universities across the country.
Bars, restaurants, cinemas, and other businesses have been ordered closed by provinces, territories, and municipalities across the country. Initially, some jurisdictions allowed restaurants or bars to stay open with reduced capacity and social distancing. Takeout and delivery orders are largely still permitted. Jurisdictions have differed on daycare closures. In particular, British Columbia and Saskatchewan have faced criticism for allowing daycares to remain open while closing schools, bars, and restaurants.
Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan have mandated the closure of all businesses not deemed essential by the provinces. Essential businesses include grocery stories, takeout and delivery restaurants, pharmacies, transportation, manufacturing, food production, energy, and healthcare.
Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Manitoba all offered one-time payments that aimed to bridge the gap before the implementation of the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Quebec's Temporary Aid for Workers Program offers up to four weeks of payments for those who do not qualify for federal assistance. Prince Edward Island also provides payments to those who have kept their jobs but work reduced hours.
Many provinces and territories have increased payments for those already receiving income supports.
Courts across the country instituted measures to reduce public contact, while maintaining access to the courts. The Supreme Court of Canada has closed the building to public tours, while maintaining the ability to file documents for cases electronically. It has also adjourned appeals which were to be heard in March, to dates in June. Other courts have prioritized the cases which will be heard, generally giving priority to ongoing criminal trials and trials in family and child protection matters, while adjourning most pending cases to later dates.
On March 27, Wasauksing First Nation declared a state of emergency with Gimaa (chief) Wally Tabobondung announcing the creation of a response team and the state of emergency via YouTube video. In an update posted on May 16, the chief and council announced they had installed cameras with facial and licence plate recognition technology at local checkpoints to identify outsiders entering the territory. Cottagers leasing property on the territory had been barred from entering until June 6. As of June 6, anyone entering the Wasauksing must have a tag issued by the band government and provide information for a centralized registry. Re-opening has been occurring in phases. As of an update posted June 21, the state of emergency had been extended an additional 90 days.
On October 1, in anticipation of the "Second Wave," Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Secwépemc First Nation instituted a mandatory face mask policy in indoor spaces where physical distancing was not possible, including hallways, staircases, and shared vehicles.
As of October 8, the infection rate in Indigenous communities had been one-third of the infection rate in non-Indigenous communities, according to an update from Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller in which he praised Indigenous leadership and, along with Indigenous Services Canada's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tim Wong, encouraged Indigenous people to remain vigilant and safe.
First nation communities are prioritized amongst others in the first phase of vaccinations against the virus.
This article needs to be updated.January 2021)(
The COVID-19 pandemic had a deep impact on the Canadian economy, leading it into a recession. The governments' social distancing rules had the effect of limiting economic activity in the country. Companies started considering mass-layoffs of workers, which was largely prevented by the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. But despite these efforts, Canada's unemployment rate was 13.5% in May 2020, the highest it has been since 1976.
Many large-scale events that planned to take place in 2020 in Canada were canceled or delayed. This includes all major sporting and artistic events. Canada's tourism and air travel sectors were hit especially hard due to travel restrictions. Some farmers feared a labour shortfall and bankruptcy.The COVID-19 affected consumer behaviours. In the early stages of the pandemic, Canadian grocery stores were the site of large-scale panic buying which lead to many empty shelves. By the end of March, most stores were closed to walk-in customers with the exception of grocery stores and pharmacies, which implemented strong social distancing rules in their premises. These rules were also implemented in other Canadian businesses as they began to re-open in the following months.
Pandemic by province or territory
Jason Kenney, the Premier of Alberta, working closely with the Emergency Management Cabinet Committee, followed the recommendations of Alberta's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, in response to the "rapidly evolving global threat". A state of public health emergency was declared on March 17. Alberta's public health laboratory greatly increased tests for COVID-19, reaching 1,000 a day by March 8, and 3,000 a day by March 26. Hinshaw said that by March 20, "World-wide, Alberta has been conducting among the highest number of tests per capita." As of April 10, 3,834,199 tests have been conducted in Alberta. On June 12, the entire province of Alberta moved to Stage 2 of the government's economic relaunch plan.The peak of the first wave was reached on April 30, 2020, when the number of active cases of COVID-19 in the province reached 3022. By October 19, 2020, during the second wave, the number of active cases reached 3138. This began a series of new record high case numbers in Alberta, peaking on December 14, 2020 at 20,500 active cases. Cases then subsided, dropping down to 4282 on February 18, 2021 - a number still about 40% greater than the peak of the first wave. Active cases totals then grew slowly to 4640 on March 10, 2021, then they began climbing more rapidly.
The COVID-19 pandemic in British Columbia forms part of an ongoing worldwide viral pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).</noinclude> On January 28, 2020, British Columbia became the second province to confirm a case of COVID-19 in Canada. The first case of infection involved a patient who had recently returned from Wuhan, Hubei, China. The first case of community transmission in Canada was confirmed in British Columbia on March 5, 2020.British Columbians have taken numerous emergency measures in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus, such as social distancing and self-isolation. On March 23, British Columbian Premier John Horgan announced the details of the province-wide emergency relief plan, which includes income support, tax relief and direct funding in order to mitigate economic effects of the pandemic.
Manitoba ranks at fifth in the provinces and territories in terms of cases during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada. As of March 9, 2021[update], Manitoba has reported 32,350 cases, with the first three reported on March 12. There have been 30,290 recoveries, 907 deaths, and 539,998 tests completed. All of Winnipeg's cases were identified after March 12.
Manitoba's rate of testing was increased to more than 500 tests a day on March 14. By May, the province had the capacity to perform up to 1000 tests per day, but had averaged only 530 tests per day for the first two weeks of the month, so on May 14, 2020, Manitoba lowered the testing criteria to include anyone showing any symptoms of cold or flu. By August, the province expected a testing capacity of 2500 per day.In Manitoba's first case, the person had returned to Winnipeg from the Philippines, and self-isolated at home.
This article needs to be updated. The reason given is: General updates on ongoing event.April 2021)(
The province of New Brunswick has the eighth-most cases (out of ten provinces and three territories) of COVID-19 in Canada. As of January 23, 2021[update], New Brunswick has reported 1,104 cases, with the first one reported on March 11. There have been 762 recoveries and 13 deaths. Over 183,796 tests have been completed as of January 23.Atlantic Bubble, which allowed free travel amongst the member provinces but restricted access to travellers from outside provinces. However, this was suspended in November.
Newfoundland and Labrador
This article needs to be updated. The reason given is: General updates on ongoing event.April 2021)(
As of February 24, 2021[update], there have been 973 cases and five deaths confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador.
The province announced its first presumptive case on March 14, 2020, and declared a public health emergency on March 18. Health orders, including the closure of non-essential businesses, and mandatory self-isolation for all travellers entering the province (even from within Canada) were enacted over the days that followed. After the initial outbreaks, the number of cases in Newfoundland remained relatively low, with several stretches of days with no cases over early-to-mid-2020. The province began a gradual reopening on May 11, 2020.Cases continued to remain relatively low and stable over the summer months of 2020, although several clusters (including the first case involving a school student) emerged in November and December. In February 2021, the province began to experience a major surge in new cases and community transmission, including its largest single-day increases to-date. On February 12, 2021, a second lockdown was declared after samples from these cases tested positive for the highly-transmissible SARS-CoV2 variant B.1.1.7.
As of January 28, 2021[update], there have been 31 confirmed cases in the Canadian territory of the Northwest Territories with 28 cases recovered. 11,789 tests have been conducted, with 11,758 negative results.On March 21, the Northwest Territories reported its first case of COVID-19; the individual had travelled to British Columbia and Alberta before returning home to Yellowknife.
This article needs to be updated.January 2021)(
Until November 6, 2020, Nunavut remained the only province or territory in Canada, and the only place in North America, that had not yet recorded a confirmed case of COVID-19, with two early presumptive cases later ruled to be false positives, and clusters of cases at mines in September and October involving employees flown in from outside of the territory.On November 6, 2020, Nunavut recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19 in-territory. By mid-November, evidence of community transmission began to emerge, prompting the territory to reimplement restrictions in the affected communities. Nunavut's Chief Medical Officer Michael Patterson announced on November 16 that a territory-wide lockdown would take effect on November 18, reinstating the closure of schools and all non-essential businesses for at least two weeks.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Canada was announced on January 25, 2020, involving a traveler who had recently returned to Toronto from travel in China, including Wuhan. Ontario has had the largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among Canada's provinces and territories, but due to having the largest population, only ranks fourth adjusted per capita.
A state of emergency was declared by Premier Doug Ford on March 17, 2020 as a result of increasing transmission province-wide. This included the gradual implementation of restrictions on gatherings and commerce. On April 3, 2020, the province released modelling projecting that over the full course of the pandemic, 100,000 deaths would occur in Ontario with no public health measures and 3,000-15,000 deaths would likely occur with public health measures.From late spring to early summer, the majority of the deaths were residents of long-term care homes. In late April 2020, one out of five of all long-term care homes in Ontario had an outbreak and 70% to 80% of all COVID-19 deaths had been in retirement and long-term care homes. Following medical assistance and observation by the Canadian Armed Forces, the military released a report detailing "a number of medical, professional and technical issues" amongst 'for-profit' long-term-care homes including neglect, lack of equipment and allegations of elder abuse.
Prince Edward Island
As of September 12, 2020[update], Prince Edward Island has reported 55 confirmed cases of the virus, 47 of which have resolved. As of that date, 28,653 tests have come back negative and 84 are currently under investigation. On March 14, 2020, the first confirmed case in Prince Edward Island was announced, a woman in her 50s who had returned from a trip on a cruise ship on March 7. By March 26, there were five cases, all of which had been travel related, i.e., been contracted while persons were abroad. To date, there was no re-transmission reported in the island province.On July 3, the province joined three other provinces to create an Atlantic Bubble, allowing free travel amongst the member provinces and restricting access to travellers from outside provinces. On November 23, 2020, Premier King announced that Prince Edward Island is withdrawing from the Atlantic bubble for a two-week period. The withdrawal is currently extended indefinitely.
The pandemic first spread to Quebec in February 2020. On March 15, the government enforced the closure of various entertainment and recreational venues, and on March 23, all non-essential businesses were ordered to close. By the end of March, over four and a half thousand cases had been confirmed in all regions of the province. Until 2021, Quebec had reported the highest number of cases and deaths of COVID-19 in Canada, eventually overtaken by Ontario. which was later renewed and extended multiple times through 2020 and 2021 indefinitely. Beginning in late summer and autumn of 2020, a second wave of the virus began to emerge in Quebec and throughout Canada. In response the province entered a province wide lockdown on December 25 (Christmas Day) 2020 and implemented a curfew on January 9, 2021. In February 2021, due to a rapid decline in cases, Quebec began to reopen the economy regionally.
The province of Saskatchewan, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada ranks sixth amongst provinces and territories in terms of overall cases.
Chief Medical Officer Saqib Shahab announced the first presumptive case of in the province on March 12, a person in their 60s that had recently returned from Egypt. A provincial state of emergency was declared on March 18, and the province began to institute mandatory closures of non-essential facilities and lines of business over the days that followed. Saskatchewan reported its first deaths from COVID-19 on March 30. By April 6, the number of new recoveries began to regularly equal or exceed the number of new cases, which also began to steadily drop. On April 23, 2020, Premier Scott Moe stated that Saskatchewan's caseload was 70% below the national average per-province, and hospitalizations and deaths were 90% below average.
The province's first major outbreak began in late-April, centred upon the remote northwestern community of La Loche. It was traced to an outbreak at the Kearl Oil Sands Project in northern Alberta, with wider community spread attributed to overcrowded living conditions in local First Nations communities. In June and July, a new outbreak emerged in the western and central regions of the province, centred around communal Hutterite colonies. The province hit a new peak of 332 active cases during the spike, which subsided by late-August. In early-October, the number of new cases in Saskatchewan began to rapidly increase in urban communities, with a gospel outreach in Prince Albert being attributed as a superspreader event, and increasing community spread in Saskatoon — particularly at nightclubs.New restrictions on gatherings were introduced in mid-November, including a prohibition of all group sports activities. By early-December, the province reached over 4,000 active cases, and there were increases in deaths tied to long-term care facilities. COVID-19-related deaths to-date in Saskatchewan roughly doubled during January 2021. Despite numbers having declined elsewhere in Saskatchewan, there has been an ongoing surge in Regina, Moose Jaw, and southeast Saskatchewan (including Weyburn) attributed to the B.1.1.7 variant. On March 23, the province announced that special health orders would be implemented in Regina and surrounding communities to slow the spread of variants of concern. This includes the closure of dine-in bars and restaurants, and indoor arts, entertainment, and event venues from March 28 through at least April 5, and reinstating a prohibition of private gatherings that had recently been lifted to allow household bubbles. Schools in Regina, Moose Jaw, and southeast Saskatchewan have suspended in-person classes through at least April 26. At the same time, Saskatchewan has led the country in vaccination per-capita.
As of November 21, 2020 in the Canadian territory of Yukon has reported 29 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 22 have recovered and one has died. 4,509 tests have been completed, with 4,361 confirmed negative and 121 still under investigation.
On March 22, 2020, Premier Sandy Silver and the Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Hanley, announced that Yukon had its first cases of coronavirus, a couple who had attended a convention in the United States and then returned home to Whitehorse. They developed symptoms upon their return and immediately sought medical assistance. They have self-isolated and have meticulously followed all public health directions.During the pandemic, the territory opened its first public university in the north, Yukon University.
This section needs to be updated. The reason given is: Information needs to be updated to better reflect developments since April–May/reopenings/new surges.October 2020)(
COVID-19 testing can be used to track the prevalence and spread, to diagnose individuals for treatment, to identify infections for isolation and contact tracing, to screen at-risk populations, to clear exposed healthcare workers to return to work, and to identify individuals with potential immunity. The World Health Organization says that jurisdictions should aim to test every suspected case of COVID-19. Since health care is under provincial jurisdiction, almost all testing is conducted by the provinces and territories rather than the federal government. On April 23, Trudeau identified broader testing as key to reopening the country, mentioning the target of 60,000 tests per day set by Dr. Theresa Tam, but warned that up to 120,000 per day may be required. As of late April, approximately 20,000 tests per day were being performed in Canada. Total numbers of tests conducted for the provinces and Canada show that over 800,000 Canadians have been tested as of early May 2020. The displayed chart shows the testing rates per capita in the provinces and territories from March to May 2020.
Role of the Government of Canada
Federal approval and regulation of diagnostic tests
Only COVID-19 tests approved by Health Canada can be imported or sold in Canada. Since this is usually a lengthy process, on March 18, Minister of Health Hajdu issued an interim order to allow expedited access to COVID-19-related medical devices for use by healthcare providers, including diagnostic test kits. The same day, the first commercial tests were approved, RT-PCR tests from Roche and Thermo Fisher. Another 13 diagnostic products have since been approved, all based on Nucleic Acid tests. As of April 30, 21 diagnostic device applications were listed as submitted by Health Canada.
National Microbiology Lab
Canada's National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg performs diagnostic testing for and research into COVID-19. Samples from suspected cases early in the pandemic were sent by provinces and territories to this national lab for testing, either as the sole test or as a check of an in-province test result. The first confirmed case in Canada was diagnosed by the lab on January 27, 2020. Since then, provinces and territories have established their own testing capacity but have occasionally sent samples to the national lab for a second test as a check.
Federal facilitation of testing
Provinces have faced COVID-19 testing backlogs due to a shortage of supplies, including the chemical reagents required to complete the tests. In late April, the federal government arranged for a cargo flight from China that delivered the equivalent of about six to nine months of production for one particular raw material for the 20-odd raw materials needed by supplier LuminUltra to supply reagent kits for RT-PCR machines.
Types of COVID-19 tests
Health Canada identifies nucleic acid-based testing as "the gold standard used in Canada and abroad, for the diagnosis of active COVID-19 infection in patients with symptoms." The predominant type of testing used is RT-PCR. In it, a carefully produced and validated swab is used to collect a sample from a person's throat, back of the nose, or front of the nose. The swab is put inside a sealed container containing a medium that preserves the virus, which is sent to test-processing centres in the corresponding province or territory. At the centres, highly skilled technicians use large commercial machines from a variety of manufactures to process batches of tens to hundreds of samples at a time. The test chemically strips the RNA from the sample then mixes it with a test kit containing chemical reagents designed to detect RNA signatures of SARS-CoV-2. The sample is cycled between a set of temperatures to amplify the chemical RNA signature. This leads to processing times that range from 4 to 24 hours. The actual RT-PCR test is 99 percent accurate. However, false negative results are estimated to occur 8 to 10 percent of the time due to poor swabbing technique and might be as high as 30 percent depending on how long after symptom onset the test was performed.
Provinces have faced COVID-19 testing backlogs due to a shortage of the chemical reagents and swabs required to complete the tests.
Virus-RNA test reagent kits
LuminUltra Technologies Ltd. of Fredericton is producing reagent test-kits to use with automated RT-PCR machines. On April 15, Trudeau announced that the company would be "ramping up production ... to meet the weekly demand in all provinces." The company announced the same day that it would provide "500,000 urgently needed COVID-19 tests per week to the Canadian federal government for use across Canada."
Spartan Bioscience of Ottawa signed contracts with the federal government and the provinces of Alberta, Quebec, and Ontario to supply virus-RNA testing systems that process a single swab sample in 30 to 60 minutes. Together the contracts were for over one million swab test kits, and at least 250 handheld devices. On April 13, Health Canada approved this test, but on May 3 the test was recalled due to unreliable results.
Precision Biomonitoring of Guelph signed a Letter of Intent on March 31 with the federal government to co-develop a novel point-of-care test kit for COVID‑19, which is now pending an authorization from Health Canada. Their 1.2 kg battery-operated mobile device performs nine tests per hour and takes 60 minutes to produce a result.
Bio-ID Diagnostics of Edmonton developed a direct 24-hour virus test that can be scaled to 20,000 samples per day. Since it is based on sequencing DNA it avoids false positives, and it detects a low concentration of the virus substantially reducing false negatives in asymptomatic individuals.
Serological testing for antibodies
These blood tests look for antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and range in complexity from laboratory tests to at-home kits similar to pregnancy tests. Antibodies do not form immediately upon infection, so these tests are not well-suited for detecting a current infection. However, they can potentially identify those who have been infected in the past. Health Canada has been evaluating a number of antibody tests. Health Canada deemed that "Serological tests are not appropriate for early diagnosis of COVID-19, largely due variability in the time required after infection to develop antibodies." On May 12, 2020, Health Canada announced the first antibody test approved for use, a laboratory test from DiaSorin, an Italian multinational biotechnology company. Health Canada wrote that the test will "contribute to a better understanding of whether people who have been infected are immune to the virus."
Research and population immunity
Health Canada posts "studies will be required to determine how long the antibodies remain detectable, whether for weeks, months or years" and "the relationship between antibodies and immunity to future viral infection." Nonetheless, many countries are conducting or planning large-scale testing to determine what proportion of the population has been infected and is potentially now immune. As of April 20, the WHO estimated that at most 2 to 3 percent of people in affected countries have been infected. On April 23, 2020, Trudeau created a COVID-19 Immunity Task Force of researchers, including Dr. Tam, Dr. David Naylor, and Dr. Mona Nemer, to coordinate monitoring of immunity and vulnerability to COVID-19 in the Canadian population. The taskforce will oversee national antibody surveys over the next two years in which will test one million Canadians. Researchers at Sinai Health's Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute in Toronto are developing a robotic system that can process mass numbers of antibody tests.
Canadian-made antibody tests
MedMira of Halifax developed one of the first rapid detection kits for HIV and has now developed a COVID-19 antibody test that takes three minutes from taking the blood drop specimen.
Rapid antigen testing
Tests for antigens, proteins that are part of the surface of the virus, were first approved by Health Canada on October 6, when it approved and ordered 20.5 million units of one manufactured by Abbott Laboratories as a point-of-care test. They can produce results faster than PCR tests (in around 20 minutes), but are generally considered to be less accurate than PCR tests. Abbott states that they are designed for preliminary results and not intended "as the sole basis for treatment or other management decisions." Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Howard Njoo stated that these tests could be deployed in settings such as workplaces and communal living environments.
Canadian-made rapid antigen tests
Sona Nanotech of Halifax was developing point-of-care COVID-19 antigen test kits that provide results in 5–15 minutes and is anticipated to cost less than $50. If successful, the project will yield 20,000 test kits available per week, with the potential to scale-up to 1 million test kits per week.
Updated November 26
Total cases Active cases Recoveries Deaths
Updated November 26
New cases 7-day average of new cases
Updated November 26
New deaths 7-day average of new deaths
|Source: Public Health Agency of Canada, as of March 26, 2021, 9 PM ET.|
Provincial and territorial
Updated November 26
British Columbia Alberta Saskatchewan Manitoba
New Brunswick Prince Edward Island Nova Scotia Newfoundland and Labrador
Yukon Northwest Territories Nunavut
- Marchand-Senécal, Xavier; Kozak, Rob; Mubareka, Samira; Salt, Natasha; Gubbay, Jonathan B; Eshaghi, Alireza; Allen, Vanessa; Li, Yan; Bastien, Natalie; Gilmour, Matthew; Ozaldin, Omar; Leis, Jerome A (March 9, 2020). "Diagnosis and Management of First Case of COVID-19 in Canada: Lessons applied from SARS". Clinical Infectious Diseases. ciaa227 (16): 2207–2210. doi:10.1093/cid/ciaa227. PMC 7108147. PMID 32147731. Archived from the original on August 6, 2020. Retrieved May 9, 2020.