Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA Dr. David Swann release World Mental Health Day Statement

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA Dr. David Swann issue the following statement to mark World Mental Health Day:

Swann stated, “One of the key findings of the Mental Health Review I chaired showed serious underfunding for mental health treatment in Alberta – only six per cent of the overall health care budget. This has led to critical deficiencies and severe delays in access to care, particularly when it comes to culturally-sensitive services for Indigenous peoples.

“We need to address this funding shortfall and fully implement the 32 recoOmmendations of Alberta’s mental health report.”

Khan stated, “However, increased funding is only part of the solution. Each of us has a role to play in helping those struggling with mental distress. We need to talk more, and more publicly, about these issues, and be ready to reach out to those around us who may be suffering.

“Stigma around mental health and addictions often prevents people from seeking help. That can have life-ending consequences for some. That is why we must pursue the decriminalization of small quantities of drugs. This will go a long way towards helping those struggling with addiction to reach out and find help.

“On this World Mental Health Day, let us be mindful of the impact we have on the mental well-being of others, and make a sincere effort to build honest and open relationships in order to be able to encourage others get help when they need it.”


Alberta Liberals renew call to declare Public Health Emergency for Opioid Crisis

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA Dr David Swann issue release renewing call for Alberta Government to declare Public Health Emergency for Opioid Crisis:

The NDP Government should be ashamed. Alberta health officials declined to participate in a major national opioid study that examined the demographics of overdose victims earlier this year. This underlines the Alberta Government’s failure to deal fully and effectively with this critical issue which is killing two Albertans a day – every day.

Dr Swann stated, “I demanded in September 2016 that the NDP Government declare the opioid crisis a Public Health Emergency. That was more than 2 years ago. Hundreds of Albertans have died from fatal opioid overdoses since then. What is this Government waiting for?

“Alberta continues to play “catch-up” due to a lack of deeper understanding about this issue. Addiction and the connection to mental illness along with the interaction of social and economic conditions must be studied to provide effective prevention and treatment services.”

The Public Health Agency of Canada says Alberta health officials claimed they did not have the resources to participate in the Federal study. Alberta did not have any coroners or medical examiners who could have been spared to provide data for the study. Newfoundland, Labrador and P.E.I. were the other provinces that did not participate. They have a combined total population equal to about half the size of Calgary.

David Khan stated, “The opioid crisis has taken a heavy toll on Albertans. We have the second highest per capita death rate among provinces. How can we not have the resources to participate in this important study that could help save Alberta lives? Alberta’s Medical Examiners Office has been a revolving door of staff due to the working environment and mismanagement. NDP Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley’s response to this situation has clearly been insufficient. The NDP Government has to step up and fix the problems.”

Alberta has said it will conduct its own opioid study. That will be released sometime in 2019.

Albertans can’t wait. Too many people are dying from the opioid crisis in this province. Alberta Liberals are pushing the NDP Government to act now and declare a Public Health Emergency.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Liberal MLA David Swann issue Thanksgiving Day Statement

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Liberal MLA David Swann issue Thanksgiving Day Statement:

“We wish all Albertans a Happy Thanksgiving Day with plenty of turkey and pumpkin pie to share with family and friends. The origins of Canadian Thanksgiving are traced to settlers who came to Kanata/ “New France” in the early 17th century and celebrated their successful harvests. They typically had feasts at the end of the harvest season and continued throughout the winter season, mutually sharing food with the Indigenous peoples of the area.

“Unfortunately, some Albertans do not have much to be thankful for. Unemployment continues to creep up and is now 7% in the province. Many are still struggling to make ends meet and continue to live paycheque to paycheque. The wobbly economic recovery, overcrowded classrooms, the opioid epidemic and EMS “Red Alerts” crises are issues that concern Albertans. The marginalized need strong social services but find they have been left to fend for themselves. Seniors are concerned about access to adequate long-term care.

“Alberta Liberals are pushing the NDP to live up to its promises as a progressive, caring Government. All Albertans deserve opportunities to work, have access to quality healthcare and education. There must be support services for the most vulnerable. We can no longer afford to dance around a provincial debt that is on its way to top $100 billion. We need a viable, sensible financial plan to reduce this fiscal millstone. With rising interest rates Alberta taxpayers will be forking over more almost $4 billion in debt interest costs every year. That money should be spent on new hospitals, smaller classroom sizes and higher AISH payments for the most vulnerable Albertans.

“Alberta Liberals are fiscally responsible and socially progressive. We are forward thinking and believe Alberta has a bright future. Albertans are hard working and resilient. They want a good quality of life for themselves, their children and their extended families. We will help them to achieve those goals.

“We urge all Albertans to enjoy Thanksgiving Day. We ask that you reach out to those who may be alone and not be sitting down to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Let’s work together to make Alberta a better place for everyone!”


EMS workers spend many unproductive hours waiting in hospital hallways: survey

RYAN RUMBOLT

Emergency Medical Services employees in Alberta say more can be done to cut down on patient transfers, hallway wait times and ambulance “red alerts.”

The Liberals conducted an anonymous survey of Alberta paramedics this summer. Gary Bobrovitz, spokesperson for the party, said copies of the survey were given to the EMS union for distribution to members.

David Khan, Liberal party leader, shared the results with EMS workers and Calgarians at a panel on Thursday. Bobrovitz said the crowd of attendees was small but included at least a few EMS workers.

The survey findings helped the party draft a number of EMS improvement recommendations to the NDP, calling on the province to reduce overtime hours, lengthy waits for patient handover in hospital while bolstering the community paramedic program.

Over 100 EMS staff responded to the survey anonymously to avoid workplace repercussions, the Liberal party said. And while Bobrovitz said some of the results are “largely anecdotal,” the numbers show EMS members have ongoing concerns with the level of service they can provide and long patient transfer wait times.

The survey summary shows 57.3 per cent of those surveyed believe hallway wait times have increased since they had begun working for EMS. Another 28.2 per cent of respondents believed the wait times were unchanged, with only 9.7 per cent believing wait times have gone down.

The Liberals’ data showed paramedics spent more than 650,000 hours in 2016 waiting to transfer care of patients to hospital staff. EMS staff also clocked more than 135,000 hours of overtime that year, for an estimated $10 million in additional wages at the taxpayers’ expense.

In the survey, EMS workers identified long hallway waits for patient hand over “as a source of delayed response times,” are “impacting the quality of care they were able to deliver,” and are having “a negative impact” on relationships with other healthcare workers and on their “quality of care.”

Workers also said the long waits have “led to red alerts that have forced ambulances out of surrounding areas to cover the Calgary region.”

The Liberals say those surveyed identified a lack of beds, a lack of communication between facilities, and patients who don’t require emergency care using emergency services as possible causes for the long waits.

As far as solutions, workers said more fast track zones, having a doctor present at triage and more long term care options to free up beds could cut down on wait times and take pressure off frontline hospital staff.

In addition to the survey, the Liberals also set up a hotline this summer for EMS workers and citizens to anonymously report their EMS concerns. “In regards to the response from citizens, individuals highlighted increased wait times, as well as issues with provision of care,” the summary reads.

“Individuals spoke about their experiences in the case of some who waited a long time to have their call answered or others whose provision of care was not patient-centred.”

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman criticized the hotline for “directing patient and frontline feedback” away from AHS’s feedback line “and toward their own political party.”

The province increased funding for EMS by $23 million in its 2018 budget and has “committed to creating 2,000 long term and dementia care spaces by 2019,” Hoffman said in a statement.

Albertans with EMS feedback should contact the AHS Patient Feedback team by calling 1-855-550-2555.

(HTTPS://CALGARYHERALD.COM/AUTHOR/RCRUMBOLTPOSTMEDIA) Updated: October 5, 2018

Calgary EMS ambulance P O S T M E D I A A R C H I V E S

RRumbolt@postmedia.com (mailto:RRumbolt@postmedia.com)

On Twitter: @RCRumbolt (https://twitter.com/RCRumbolt)


Dr. David Swann on the EMS crisis in Alberta – The Homestretch

On the Homestretch: “The Alberta Liberals say Emergency Medical Services are in crisis in our province and more needs to be done. The party surveyed patients and EMS workers to get their thoughts on care. They will be talking about the results and some possible solutions this evening at a public forum. Dr David Swann is a Liberal MLA for Calgary Mountain View. He joined host Doug Dirks on the line.”

October 3rd: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1337022531587


Alberta Liberals call on NDP to fix EMS, emergency room ‘crisis’

RYAN RUMBOLT (HTTPS://CALGARYHERALD.COM/AUTHOR/RCRUMBOLTPOSTMEDIA)

The provincial Liberals are calling on the NDP to fix issues leading to increased wait times in Alberta’s emergency rooms.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan said data collected by the party through freedom of information requests show “systemic issues” and “mismanagement” of the health-care system are causing a shortage of available staff, ambulances and hospital beds.

Numbers from the Liberals show there were 35 ambulance “Code Reds” (where no ambulance is available for 911 calls) in Alberta every month of 2016, with Calgary and Edmonton suffering the most frequent ambulance shortages.

That’s an average of more than one Code Red in the province every day in every month in 2016. “It’s just unacceptable in our province, in our society, to have ambulances not available for 911 calls,” Khan said in Calgary on Tuesday. “We all expect in that type of emergency — when we’re calling 911 — there’s going to be an ambulance there.”

In the event of a Code Red, ambulances from outside the city are often called in to assist local crews and take on emergency calls.

The Liberals’ data showed paramedics spent more than 650,000 hours that same year waiting to transfer care of patients to hospital staff. EMS staff also clocked more than 135,000 hours of overtime, for an estimated $10 million in additional wages at the taxpayers’ expense.

In Alberta, EMS workers waited an average of one hour for patient handover to ER staff. Khan said that means pulling a two-person crew and their ambulance out of service until the patient is transferred.

Those same handover times in the U.K. are an average of 15 minutes, according to the Liberals.

Calgary MLA Dr. David Swann said Alberta emergency rooms are in “crisis,” and Khan challenged the province to improve ER handover efficiency by hiring additional “intermediate” triage workers and adopting new technologies to “streamline” the process.

“In the short term we need more community care after regular hours, as well as paramedics and intermediate ER health care providers . . . Long term, we need to expand the continuing and community care to free up bed spaces,” Khan said.

The Liberals also identified issues with EMS and ER patients experiencing long hallway wait times because beds are being used by patients who would benefit more from community care.

Swann said these patients, called “bed blockers” by some in the healthcare field, are an additional drain on the healthcare system.

He said improving and expanding the AHS community paramedic program by hiring more paramedics — and allowing EMS crews to decline patient transport in select cases — could cut down on bed blockers and wait times in Alberta hospitals.

But the NDP said they have already taken steps to address issues raised by Khan and the Liberals, including a commitment to create 2,000 beds for long-term dementia patients by 2019 and expanding the community paramedic program.

The Liberals conducted an anonymous survey of Alberta paramedics this summer, something Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said is “directing patient and frontline feedback away from established processes within AHS and toward their own political party.”

Swann said the survey results will be released on Thursday and show EMS workers are facing personal and professional issues due to staffing challenges. AHS said paramedics work overtime as a “last resort … to ensure patient care is not impacted.”

Albertans with concerns about EMS services can contact the AHS Patient Feedback line at 1-855-550-2555.

RRumbolt@postmedia.com (mailto:RRumbolt@postmedia.com)

On Twitter: @RCRumbolt (https://twitter.com/RCRumbolt)

Updated: October 2, 2018

C A L G A R Y H E R A L D


Alberta Liberals propose solutions to NDP Government’s EMS Crisis

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA Dr. David Swann issue the following release.

Alberta EMS is in crisis. Data has revealed long hallway wait times, spiraling costs and operational issues:

● Paramedics spent 650,000 hours waiting for patients to be transferred to hospital staff in 2016.
● The average wait time is 1 hour for EMS patient transfer – 4 times longer than the United Kingdom standard of 15 minutes.
● EMS staff worked 135 000 hours overtime in 2016 costing Albertan taxpayers an estimated $10 million in extra wages. It is adversely affecting the health and morale of EMS staff. It may be impacting patient care.
● From September 2016 to September 2017 there were 35 Red Alerts in Alberta per month.

Swann stated “The Alberta Liberal Opposition was tired of waiting for AHS and the NDP Government to take action after we raised this important issue in the Legislature Spring Session. To begin building solutions the Alberta Liberal Opposition launched the EMS Hotline and Survey this summer.

“We’ve used this data and consultation with experts to construct responsible solutions for this ongoing crisis.’’

Khan stated “The NDP Government’s response has been unacceptable. Hallway wait times are out of control and affecting the quality of care. Some of this is due to systemic issues in our healthcare system. Some of this is due to mismanagement. All of it must be fixed.”

“Short term we need more community care paramedics and intermediate ER health care providers coupled with improved technology to help create streamlined hand over procedures.

“Long term we need to expand continuing and community care to free up bed spaces. We also need to launch a public awareness campaign so Albertans better understand when they should or should not go to ER.”

The Alberta Liberals have identified the following problems:

1. Bed block: EMS and ER patients are stuck waiting for admission because beds in the hospital are full. EMS providers have to wait with their patients and that takes 2 person crews and their ambulance temporarily off the street.

2. High demand in ERs: ER is increasingly full of patients needing to be triaged and treated. EMS have to stay and care for their patients because there are not enough health care providers in ER to manage them.

3. High demand on EMS: EMS patient volume is increasing and there are not enough EMS providers to meet that demand.

The Alberta Liberals have put forward the following solutions:

1. Intermediate ER health care providers: ERs should be equipped with additional health care providers capable of rapid triage and short-term patient management. These could include permanent on-site EMS staff (no ambulance) or nurses. EMS crews bringing in patients could hand them over quicker and get back on the road quicker.

2. More community paramedics: Additional EMS providers could be tasked with in-home triage and treat non-life-threatening cases in the community. tHis can also involve transport to an appropriate lower acuity setting such as a walk-in clinic or urgent/intermediate care centre, or refer to family doctor or pharmacist. This will improve EMS capacity and reduce ER congestion.

3. Improve EMS-ER handover efficiency: Accommodating patients in the ER should be the responsibility of the hospital. We need to maximise the use of advanced technology and create streamlined handover procedures to boost efficiencies. This requires coordination of and cooperation by EMS and ER staff.

4. Alleviate demand on the ER: Ensure that ER is reserved for emergencies. Boost public
awareness of alternative care options including family doctor, walk-in, urgent care and pharmacists.

5. Reduce access block: Increase community and continuing care so we can safely discharge more patients sooner and open up more beds sooner for new patients.


Alberta Liberals say NDP Minimum Wage hike shortchanges the poor and small business

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann release statement on minimum wage hike:

We support boosting the Minimum Wage to $15 an hour as a stop-gap measure. But Alberta Liberals believe more can be done to help combat poverty and to alleviate business concerns.
We believe a Guaranteed Minimum Income is a better solution for Albertans.

A Minimum Income could lift all Albertans out of poverty, reduce crime and decrease emergency room visits. Alberta needs a Minimum Income pilot project. We are asking the NDP to explore this option.

Short term solutions include earned-income tax credits along with increasing the basic personal exemption from individual tax rates.

Khan stated, “Minimum wage policy is not a silver bullet for the problems of the working poor. $17.70 is the living wage for 2018 in Calgary for a family of four, with two parents working full-time, according to anti-poverty groups.

“Despite an almost 50% increase in the Minimum Wage under the NDP government, many vulnerable Albertans are living on the knife’s edge. The next unexpected car repair or medical bill can cause a financial and family crisis. The Calgary Food Bank says previous minimum wage hikes in Alberta have not done anything to reduce food bank usage.

Khan continued, “Some small business and nonprofits say they cannot afford the hike. They have been forced to reduce employees’ shifts or, even worse, lay off their staff.”

“This Government has stubbornly refused to address the legitimate concerns of employers. Steps can be taken to support the minimum wage increase and mitigate its unintended consequences.

“Business has been asking for a minimum wage differential for youth. That has been successfully implemented elsewhere, and reduces the hit to youth employment.”

Swann says, “Vulnerable Albertans are still struggling to survive pay cheque to pay cheque. That places too many families under tremendous pressure and can lead to increased stress, mental health issues and family breakdown. A living wage allows a household to meet basic needs like food, housing, utilities, transportation and clothing.

“The Government could should create a Fair Wage Commission. That proposal is underway in British Columbia. Stakeholders are developing a plan to bridge the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage. It is also addressing the legitimate concerns of the business community.”