CSG senators welcome Senate approval of a study to better understand the progression of the COVID-19 crisis and to prepare for future pandemics

  • National Newswatch

The Canadian Senators Group (CSG) was formed in the fall of 2019 as a new group that is composed of experienced senators ranging across the political spectrum.One of their objectives is to highlight and reinforce one of the traditional role of the Senate, which is to focus on quality research and data that resulted in detailed recommendations and comprehensive committee studies over many decades. These Senate reports greatly contributed to the development of the public policy foundation upon which the Canadian society is based.As a result, it is in this spirit that the CSG proposed on Saturday, April 11, 2020, that a Senate special committee be formed to commence studying in the fall 2020 the impacts and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. This proposal, which was adopted by the Senate, will not duplicate the important and real-time oversight of the federal government's response to be achieved in the following months by two other Senate committees. It will rather provide a longer-term reflection on this public health crisis and a path forward to rebuild our country.To do so, the special committee's mandate will include an assessment of the substantial impacts caused by the coronavirus crisis, Canada's level of initial preparedness, as well as initiatives that have been undertaken to address this situation. It will also carry out a broad consultation of Canadians to determine the challenges and specific needs of various regions and communities.Such a study will be in keeping with the groundbreaking work achieved over the years by the Senate. An example is the 1971 Report of the Senate special committee on poverty that was led by the late Senator David Croll. This report served as a major influence on government programs such as the family allowance system.Similarly, the Senate special committee on illegal drugs, chaired by the late Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, undertook a comprehensive review of Canada's drug policies and laws, and recommended in 2002 the legalization of cannabis in Canada.While senators must keep supporting Canadians in these difficult times, they should also take steps now to prepare for this important review on the lessons learned, which will begin this fall. This will allow the special committee to carry out its mandate and consult Canadians with a view toward providing substantive guidance to improve Canada's preparedness and response for future pandemics. Once again, senators are ready to do their part in order that our country can recover quickly from this crisis.Senator Scott Tannas from Alberta is the Interim Leader of the Canadian Senators Group.