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Mayor, first responders honour health-care workers along Toronto's Hospital Row
TORONTO -- Downtown Toronto’s Hospital Row was filled with sounds of sirens and flashing lights as a cavalcade of emergency vehicles drove by hospitals on Sunday night to salute the health-care workers who are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.
Led by the Toronto Police Service, dozens of police, paramedic, firefighter and transit vehicles paraded down University Avenue at around 7:45 p.m. for the ‘Night to Salute Hospital Across the City.’
Wearing their scrubs and masks, health-care workers came out of their hospitals and lined up the streets to watch the parade.
“It feels like what we’re doing is important in the community,” said one health-care worker. “And sometimes it doesn’t always feel that way, but it feels like we're actually like appreciated now."
Many of them had tears in their eyes, saying they feel appreciated as their fellow first responders paid tribute to their work.
One health-care worker said she considers her coworkers as her second family.
“People inside are by themselves, and they’re scared until they see someone show up as a nurse, and you’re there to comfort them regardless of what they’re going through,” another health-care worker said.
Among the dignitaries who participated in the event included Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg, and Toronto Mayor John Tory.
All three got out of their vehicles and took the time to wave at the health-care workers, acknowledging the essential service they provide to the city.
“This whole thing is what makes Toronto what it is,” said Pegg, who was fighting back the tears. “It’s been a lot of hard weeks and a lot of hard days, and we’ve got a long road ahead of us. But this is a little bit of good.”
Pegg, who has been leading Toronto’s emergency response to the pandemic, said he is proud of all his fellow first responders who have bravely face the difficult challenges brought by COVID-19.
As of Sunday, Toronto has 3,546 COVID-19 cases, with 174 deaths.
Tory said he too was emotional, especially after he talked to several health care workers, who told him that they’re grateful that somebody appreciated them.
“These people are extraordinary,” the mayor said. “They’re putting themselves at risk to look after people.”
“We owe them a huge amount,” Tory said.
The mayor said it means a lot to the firefighters, police officers, and paramedics to show up because they know what it’s like to be in the front lines.
Tory said he hopes the parade gives them a sense of hope.
“Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your professionalism. Thank you for your dedication,” Tory said. “Hang in there because you know it’s not over yet, and they still got a long way to go.
Parades also occurred in 12 other hospitals across the city.
In addition, police officers also did a drive-by in long-term care homes in their divisions to salute the residents and staff.
Long-term care homes have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Dozens of residents in long-term care homes in the city have died due to COVID-19, and hundreds have contracted the virus.
Some smaller events have already been held in neighbourhoods across the city to honour health-care workers. Many of which have involved residents applauding or banging pots and pans from their balconies and porches.
For one health-care worker, she said it’s been amazing to see all the support from everyone.
“It’s good to feel appreciated, and we are really overwhelmed with happiness and joy,” she said. “It makes our day.”