More, culturally-sensitive resources needed for opioid crisis in southern Alberta

Alberta Liberals say the government must provide more targeted, culturally-sensitive resources for the opioid crisis in southern Alberta.

“We applaud the local response by Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services and the Blood Tribe Police Service,” says Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann. “First responders have done an excellent job of responding to overdoses and preventing further deaths.”

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan agrees and is calling for more government resources to be mobilized in southern Alberta for the opioid crisis.

“Opioid overdoses and fatalities in Alberta are heart-breaking,” says Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan. “While we mourn the loss of loved-ones and send our sympathies to affected families, we also know many more lives could have been lost given the potency of these drugs.

“There remains an urgent need for more resources in southern Alberta that are culturally-sensitive to Indigenous people and their communities.”

Alberta Liberals believe federal funds for opioids and future cannabis revenue should be invested in mental health and addictions prevention, and expanding access to treatment in smaller municipalities, as well as rural and Indigenous communities.

Environmental Protection Order issued for Sears Plume welcome news

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) issued today for the Sears Hydrocarbon Plume is extremely welcome news for his constituents.

“This is the culmination of decades of advocacy by the people of Calgary – Mountain View who raised concerns about the need for remediation of this site,” says Swann. “This is extremely welcome news. I am very pleased and applaud the government for taking this action.”

Last year, Swann repeatedly corresponded with the Minister of Environment about the need for remediation of the former Sears gas station at North Hill Centre in the Calgary – Mountain View community of Hounsfield Heights, as well as the responsibility for ongoing remediation given the bankruptcy of Sears Canada.

The Minister initially downplayed the risks to human health and public safety, but later said her government’s environmental law group was having discussions about the impact of the bankruptcy.

Swann was worried the responsibility for remediating the Sears Hydrocarbon Plume would go the same route as orphaned oil and gas wells, but says the EPO makes it clear that the new owners will be fully liable for the ongoing monitoring and clean-up of these sites.

“This sends a strong statement that ownership cannot simply walk away from their environmental responsibilities,” says Swann. “It is a message that is very much needed right now.”

Statement on the detention and treatment of “Angela Cardinal.”

“The treatment Angela Cardinal received was horrendous, and the NDP government’s response to it is grossly inadequate.

“Angela Cardinal was more than a victim of sexual assault. Her rights were repeatedly violated by acts of racism, injustice, and plain stupidity.

“Despite what the justice minister claims, the system alone did not victimize her. It was the result of a series of unconscionable and incomprehensible decisions made by individuals.

“There needs to be a reckoning, and it must start with the Minister of Justice, Kathleen Ganley.

“The thought that racism might have been a factor was a fear that Minister Ganley said kept her up at night. That all but vanished in the light of day as she views it as systemic racism, not a single identifiable act.

“In the same way, she refuses to find fault with any particular individual who had contact with Angela Cardinal, including with the judge who, it is now clear, wrongfully imprisoned her.

“The fact is Angela Cardinal should never have been incarcerated. Every horrifying and demeaning event that followed was a direct result.

“That is why I am calling on the Minister of Justice to write a letter to the Canadian Judicial Council to order an inquiry into these actions, as she did previously with regard to Justice Robin Camp.

“While this may be a symbolic gesture at this point, it is an important one, and it is absolutely important that she make it.

“Perhaps the final insult is the announcement of a paltry $50,000 bursary to assist women and Indigenous peoples. I suspect this amount would pale in comparison to what might be awarded in a successful civil suit.

“Regardless, the memory of Angela Cardinal is worth much more than what the Minister of Justice and the Government of Alberta have offered.”

Liberal request for investigation into Pure North grants hits pay dirt

An Auditor General investigation requested by Liberal MLA David Swann found Alberta Health inappropriately awarded grants to Pure North.

“This confirms what we suspected,” says Swann, “I completely support what the Auditor has found, and I look forward to hearing how the Minister plans to clean up this mess.”

In a letter to the Auditor General last May, Swann formally requested an audit of the granting process and the effectiveness of the vitamin supplement program, citing concerns for public funds and potential public health risks to vulnerable populations.

The investigation found the grant lacked appropriate performance measures and reporting requirements, and concluded that departmental processes were not followed in awarding the grants to Pure North.

“How can Albertans have confidence that the government has their back when they turn a blind eye to such serious concerns as those raised by their own department, the medical community, and the public?” Swann asks.

Former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jim Talbot warned against government involvement in the experimental program, but his concerns were ignored. Instead, the government wasted over 11 million dollars in taxpayer funds with almost no accountability whatsoever.

“This is scandalous!” says Swann. “Clearly, the money could have been better invested in areas that would actually improve our broken system. What does the minister have to show for this?”

Despite Pure North’s claims that its programs would save money and lower demands on the system, performance measures have not improved under the NDP. In many cases, wait times for ambulances, emergency visits, continuing care placement, and elective surgeries have increased.

“Albertans expected better public health care from the NDP, but all we’ve seen is a series of inappropriate decisions, more waste, and poorer outcomes,” says Swann. “Alberta Liberals have the right prescription for better healthcare for Albertans.”