Statement on International Overdose Awareness Day, 2017

“Today I join far too many Albertans in mourning those whose lives were cut short by drug overdoses, specifically fentanyl.

“With the skyrocketing pace of overdose deaths due to the ongoing opioid crisis, it is easy to get caught up in the numbers and lose track of the real cost in life and suffering.

“People struggling with addictions are not just junkies – each one is someone’s sibling, someone’s friend, someone’s child. Every death plunges a community into grief.

“On this day we remember those who have died of drug overdose not as statistics, not as addicts, but as fellow humans. We must work in their memory to break the stigma surrounding this disease, and make sure that those struggling with addiction in the future have the help they need.

“Of course, the single greatest way to raise overdose awareness would be for the NDP government to declare a state of emergency in response to the opioid crisis – something it has refused to do despite repeated calls from the opposition and stakeholders such as Moms Stop the Harm and Changing the Face of Addiction.

“Declaring a state of emergency would send a signal to every Albertan about the seriousness of the issue itself and the government’s commitment to putting all resources at its disposal to stop the needless deaths of so many of our friends and family.”


Internal emails show NDP in damage control mode over transportation concerns

Alberta Liberals are releasing internal emails showing the NDP were in damage control mode over school transportation concerns in Calgary.

“It is troubling to see the government call the serious concerns of parents in Calgary ‘noise and confusion’,” says Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann. “The NDP were clearly aware of problems with the implementation of Bill 1 but chose spin over real action.”

The internal NDP email exchange was initiated by a parent urging the government to attend an information session with representatives from the Calgary Board of Education (CBE) and Calgary Transit Service (CTS). The individual shares a personal story of the logisitical challenges and child safety concerns of using public transit for school, as well as the financial impact the transportation changes will have on struggling families. The emails ends with plea to “do the right thing for our children.”

The ministry admits the situation is challenging but directs NDP constituency offices them to “hold still on communicating” until a messaging strategy is devised.

“Calgary MLAs recognize the problem is wide spread and specifically hurts students in language schools,” says Swann. “But the problem remains. There’s been no indication of help for the CBE to solve these problems that the government created.”

A redacted copy of the email exchange is available for viewing here.


Calgarians sound the alarm over school transportation and bell times

Alberta Liberals are calling on the NDP government to take immediate action to address serious concerns over changes in transportation and bell times as a result of Bill 1.

“Minister Eggen needs to do more than just stage a photo op today,” says Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan. “He needs to come down to Calgary and listen to parents’ concerns, then take immediate action to rectify this completely unacceptable situation his government created by making a political decision without the necessary consultation.

“The unintended consequences of good, Liberal ideas being poorly implemented by the NDP is a pattern we’ve seen all too often.”

Alberta Liberals have heard repeated concerns from parents and the Calgary Board of Education (CBE), stemming from the CBE’s attempts to accommodate the requirements imposed on it by Bill 1.

“Many parents are expressing real anxiety – not to mention serious doubts – that they’ll be able to make it all work,” says Calgary-Mountain View Liberal MLA David Swann. “For some, it could mean needing to dramatically alter their work schedules, or even re-evaluating their employment situations entirely. In other cases, before and/or after school care may be required to help bridge any gaps. Regrettably, not every family has viable options in these areas.

“If getting a break on school and busing fees means one parent having to quit a job or a family having to spend more money on child care, it’s hard to see that as progress.”

Swann points out that most parents affected have children in alternative programs, which includes French immersion. The issue becomes particularly problematic in situations involving feeder/affiliated schools, where families find themselves with children in more than one CBE school.

“The NDP are waging a war of attrition on non-traditional public education,” says Swann. “We saw a clear example of this when I proposed Bill 1 be amended to include public charter schools and the government refused.”

“Parents need clarity and predictability when it comes to their children’s education. So far, they have yet to receive either from the NDP.”


Alberta Liberals call for a credible deficit reduction plan in response to Q1 Update

In response to the First Quarter Fiscal Update, Alberta Liberals are calling on the NDP government to produce a credible plan to tackle the province’s unsustainable borrowing and debt load.

“The NDP’s record level of borrowing and debt is seriously concerning, especially without a credible plan to pay it back, says Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan. “The Minister of Finance is simply crossing his fingers and hoping that rebounding oil prices will bail him out before the next election.

”We need to concentrate on controlling operational costs and focus on smart investments in infrastructure instead of borrowing to keep the lights on. The NDP’s approach to managing our province’s finances is shockingly short-sighted.”

Khan points out the NDP are liquidating their contingency fund and promising $400 million in unspecified “savings” to paper over their ballooning deficit.

“This is just fudging the numbers to make it appear their spending and revenue problems are under control,” says Khan. “Even their projection of $49 per barrel oil is rosier than the market projections of $47.53 – $49.32.”

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann is also concerned with NDP spending practices and priorities, specifically in the areas health care, infrastructure projects, and government contracting.

“The government has missed yet another opportunity to look at waste in the health system,” says Swann. “Health spending continues to be the largest line item in the budget and we need to be looking for efficiencies.

“The government also needs to take a close look at the contracting and monitoring of delivery on infrastructure projects,” says Swann. “I have heard from numerous stakeholders about inappropriate spending and mismanagement of government contracts.

“The government must not only work to restrain its spending, but also make sure that public funds are being put to the greatest effect.”

Both agree that the NDP needs to have a credible deficit reduction plan if it hopes to salvage Alberta’s long-term financial outlook.

“We urgently need an adult conversation about closing the gap between government revenue and spending,” says Swann. “The NDP’s over-reliance on volatile resource revenue is not sustainable nor realistic, and we simply cannot continue to borrow at this rate.”

“Alberta Liberals believe in fiscal responsibility and fairness to future generations,” says Khan. “These fiscal policies manage to be unfair to both current taxpayers and future generations of Albertans.”


Statement on Black Ribbon Day

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in recognition of Black Ribbon Day:

“On this day, we remember the victims and survivors of the totalitarian regimes of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

“Even decades later, the brutal, painful legacy of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact still lingers. On this day in 1939, two of history’s worst regimes agreed to cooperate to lay waste to the continent, setting into motion countless heinous atrocities in Europe and around the world.

“Today, in memory of the many lives lost to this period of incredible cruelty and heartless indifference, we reaffirm our commitment to the ideals of democracy, tolerance, and respect for human rights. We further pledge to stay vigilant against the forces of hatred, bigotry and xenophobia, standing up to them wherever and whenever they surface.”


David Swann Statement on MLA expense disclosures

Alberta Liberal MLA for Calgary – Mountain View David Swann has released the following statement regarding his MLA expense disclosures:

“My office staff and I have conducted an audit of all of my MLA expense disclosures and we are satisfied that all expenses are appropriate.

“Fiscal responsibility starts at the top, with elected officials leading by example. Alberta Liberals respect public funds and spend them wisely, refusing to exploit loopholes to use taxpayer money for personal gain.

“On MLA expenses, it is the Alberta Liberal position that all publically-funded expenses need to be tied to public duties, must be a necessary expense for a responsible dollar amount, and be reflective of the actual costs incurred, not simply claiming the maximum allowance.

“We support the call to have the Members’ Services Committee review all MLA expenses and allowances, especially the living and travel allowances, to ensure they are all related to legitimate public business.

“Furthermore, discussion of MLA expenses does not need to be a race to the bottom. We should view these events as a call for accountability, transparency and respectful, responsible administration of Albertans’ tax dollars.

“I look forward to further dialogue and scrutiny of this important matter.”


David Swann Statement on Farm Workers Day

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement to mark Alberta’s 13th annual Farm Workers Day:

“I am pleased to spend another Farm Workers Day celebrating their vital work every day of the year that puts food on our tables. For too many years, I spent this day mourning those killed or injured on the job, and calling for the government to guarantee their basic rights to a healthy and safe workplace, and a guarantee of compensation for injury.

“Now this day recognizes the fundamental rights and protections now offered to farm workers under the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act. There is still much work to do in realizing health and safety in agricultural operations and ensuring paid farm workers are fairly treated, but the Act marks a significant step forward.

“I am therefore deeply disappointed that some politicians in Alberta are treating these rights as a political football, and threatening to repeal them. Alberta cannot afford to return to the last century of shame that they promise.”


RDNewsNow: Alberta still seeing high number of opioid deaths

Liberal MLA Doctor David Swann is questioning why it’s taking so long for safe drug-injection site proposals to be reviewed.

Swann has repeatedly called on the province to declare a state of emergency over the opioid crisis and he says it’s time action was taken.

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