state of emergency

It's officially been a year since Ontario declared a state of emergency over the pandemic

Ontario has just reached another disheartening milestone in the ongoing fight against COVID-19: one full year since the province declared a state of emergency, which we hit on Wednesday.

It was around 8:30 a.m. on March 17, 2020 when Premier Doug Ford gravely took to his podium to inform residents of new health and safety measures that would be immediately taken to stymie the spread of the virus, the first case of which was diagnosed in the province (and the country) on Jan. 25.

"Well good morning everyone," he started, an iteration of a greeting we would all become very familiar with as his regular press conferences throughout the health crisis continued and even became somewhat of a comfort to some.

"We're facing an unprecedented time in our history. That was a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions," Ford continued soberingly before outlining foreign and, at the time, drastic rules the public would have to heed: the prohibition of large public gatherings, the closure of businesses, and more.

Ford talked of protecting vulnerable populations, fears of overloading the healthcare system, and flattening the curve — things most of us were hearing for the first time.

He also announced a COVID relief package for businesses, and called for financial support from the federal government in the form of loans for affected establishments and EI reforms, all of this being days before CERB and similar programs were announced and rolled out.

"We must act decisively and we must not delay. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the government must be in a position to take any and all actions necessary," the premier said with a solemn expression.

Simultaneously, he urged calm and assured residents that he was not enacting an entire provincial shutdown, and that the services essential for day-to-day life would not be impacted.

As we now know, it unfortuanely didn't do much to assuage the hectic lineups, empty shelves and panic buying that quickly ensued and continued on and off for months.

Saying we've been through a lot in the last year is an understatement, and though the threat of the virus is still very real, things feel admittedly less terrifying now that we're used to it than they did on the day of Ford's first announcement.

The state of emergency he revealed that Tuesday eventually came to be extended for months, ended, re-implemented once more in early 2021 and finally allowed to expire again last month, rendering it less of a frightening and unknown thing over time, and more of a necessary, even tedious norm.

With talk of variants and a third wave, we're still nowhere near out of the woods; but to our benefit and credit, we've certainly adapted and managed to push on through a year of unimaginable hell — a hell that we can hopefully progress out of sometime in 2021.

Lead photo by

Gary Davidson

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