The prime minister and other federal politicians marked the anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the House of Commons on Thursday.

Justin Trudeau had called for a National Day of Observance today to commemorate the Canadian victims COVID-19.

The country has seen more than 22,360 deaths and about 898,000 confirmed cases since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to a global pandemic. In the past year, almost 850,000 Canadians have recovered from the novel coronavirus. Worldwide, 118 million people have contracted COVID-19, and nearly three million people have died. 

Trudeau said it was appropriate to remember the lives lost but also to honour the hard work and strength of others. 

“We also take this opportunity to thank our frontline workers,” Trudeau said. “We owe these everyday heroes an immense debt of gratitude, and will continue to offer the support they need.”

Remembering seniors

In his speech Thursday, the prime minister also acknowledged the toll the pandemic has had on the country’s seniors, many of who have died alone away from family and friends.

“For every senior in Canada, we must do better, and I know that we will,” Trudeau said.

He underlined the hope that vaccines are offering, saying that help is on the way. But he also said that the federal government has also frustrated with their slow arrival. Trudeau said that Canadians must continue to follow the public health guidelines in the next few months as cases of variant infection are rising.

The prime minister also said Canada will continue to work with global organizations to create a science-based response and recovery, as well as offer support to more vulnerable countries. 

In conclusion Trudeau said, “the past year has been difficult, but better days are ahead. We will come out of this pandemic a more resilient country in a stronger global community.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also remembered the lives lost in his speech. He also acknowledged the toll on the mental health and economic situation of Canadians, CTV reported.

A difficult year

“Youth mental health presenting as anxiety or eating disorders are alarmingly on the rise. The true cost of this pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of Canadians of all walks of life has been staggering,” O’Toole said.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet recognized teachers, health care and child care workers, and the most vulnerable.

“The pandemic has made the most vulnerable among us even more vulnerable. People who are isolated, who live in poverty, who suffer from anxiety are suffering even more,” he said in French.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh mourned the impact on Canadian seniors.

“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 that [it was] our seniors, particularly seniors living in long-term care,” he said. “It’s a national shame that’s the case.”

In Quebec, which has seen the most deaths from COVID-19 — 10,518 — the premier and members of the National Assembly gathered in a solemn memorial.