Senator Housakos says: “Get ahead of the curve!”

Dimitris Ilias

Senator Housakos talks about COVID-19 having a unique perspective. As a politician, being a senator in the Canadian parliament and as the husband, of a respiratory therapist fighting daily in double and triple shifts at the Jewish General Hospital during the coronavirus escalating crisis.

Parliament during COVID-19

According to Housakos there has been a revolutionary change in the Senate.

“The Senate is a very archaic body.Just to give you an idea, for committees to meet via Skype and digitally, the House of Commons had to pass special motions for those committees to have the right to do that.Same thing for the senators” said Housakos.

Senator Leo Housakos working in isolation at home during the current COVID-19 crisis.

Caucus meetings are still going on at a distance trying to support the government in this period of crisis. Senator Housakos however stressed that by the same token, as an opposition senator hehas a constitutional responsibility to provide oversight and to basically make sure that the government is kept in check.

The Greek Community

According to Sen. Housakos right now the Hellenic community of Montreal is of a certain age since the vast majority came here in the 50s and 60s. His message to his fellow Canadians of Greek descent is that they are particularly susceptible. He wished that they heed the advice of public health care officials and leaders in our country when they say stay home and isolate yourselves.

Senator’s wife in the eye of COVID-19 cyclone

“These measures have been taken to defend some of the vulnerable and susceptible members of our society, like the elderly and those that are facing other various health challenges” said Housakos. At the same time, he insisted that fear should be kept in check. As the Hellenic community celebrated Greek Independence Day on the 25th of March one must remember that Hellenes have faced many challenges as a people and they are more than capable of weathering this storm.

Spouse in the eye of the cyclone

Senator Housakos’ wife is a respiratory therapist at the Jewish General hospital. Leo Housakos has, therefore, a unique situational awareness of the crisis as it unfolds.

“I’m very proud of my wife because I see firsthand her commitment to her work as a professional and helping other human beings in time of need”.Housakos describes a new schedule with an increased number of shifts. “They’ve doubled and tripled over the last two weeks. She’s out of the house at 7:00 and she’s not home before 8:00 or 9:00 in the evening”.

On top of that, Leo Housakos described the looming immense problem that the lack of supplies could cause as they increase the risk to the lives of the health care providers.

Leo Housakos said it publicly since January – February, thatthe government had been behind the curve. “I very angry at the fact that I’m hearing now,in April, the prime-minister saying that they are ramping up production to start manufacturing masks and gowns.Two months ago, we had 5000 ventilators in Canada. It didn’t take a genius to realize that in the countries that have been hit by this virus hadtens of thousands of people being hospitalized on ventilators” added Housakos.

The Canadian Industry to the rescue

Housakos spoke with great admiration and gratitude about the Canadian industry and how it came forth to assist in the fight against COVID-19. “I trust always the private sector and their energyin times of need. They make hospital supplies, they make masks. There are companies right across the country that are transforming their industrial manufacturing capacities to make ventilators. So, I am certain, given the industrial strength of the United States and Canada and Western Europe, we will ramp up and get it done.But my question still begs to be asked, why did it take so long? And again, why are we behind the curve?”

Trudeau’s economic plan

The Canadian parliament voted on a series of economic measures meant to help Canadians during this crisis. Senator Housakos admitted that it was the best possible plan as long as it’s a short-term crisis. “They’re sort of praying that this thing somehow miraculously resolves itself within the next three months. If this goes on for four months, five months and six months, then it becomes a whole different ball of wax.”Housakos’ concern is that “the government didn’t show enough fiscal restraint in the last four years to be ready for this.My second concern is if this crisis lasts a longer period of time than just two or three months, we’re going to see hard economic difficulties and I’m afraid also of social unrest.”

Dimitris Ilias, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter for Newsfirst Multimedia