Statement from Dr. David Swann on supervised consumption site approvals

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in reaction to the approval of supervised consumption sites in Edmonton and Lethbridge:

“These approvals are welcome news. I have long called for harm-reduction measures to be implemented in this province as a key component of a coordinated plan to manage the steadily worsening opioid crisis.
“However, the continued delays are deeply disappointing. I find myself asking: if federal approval was the only hold-up for a supervised consumption site, why the months-long gap between the site being approved and opening its doors?

“The lack of sites for Calgary, where opioid overdoses continue to claim the most lives, is troubling. As I’ve said before, access to harm reduction measures must be further expanded. While I’m glad to see a site opening in Lethbridge, other smaller urban centres and rural areas, where wait times are still too long and mental health care much less available, are badly in need of these facilities.”


Dr. David Swann statement on World Mental Health Day

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement to mark World Mental Health Day:

“One of the key findings of the Mental Health Review 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.

“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.

“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.”


Opioid Programs Need Further Expansion, Less Politics

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement on the expansion of Alberta’s opioid dependency treatment programs:

“$4.6 million in additional resources to combat the opioid crisis is undoubtedly welcome news. I am pleased to see that Edmonton and Calgary centres will receive more support, enabling them to reduce wait times for in-patient and outpatient treatment as part of the larger solution.

“However, access to harm reduction measures needs to be further expanded, particularly in smaller urban centres and rural areas where wait times are still too long and mental health care much less available.
“As I have said many times following each of these one-off announcements, this is an emergency situation requiring an evidence-based, co-ordinated and comprehensive public strategy – not a reactive, piecemeal approach.

“The government is failing to make significant headway in reducing the overall number of overdoses, which continues to rise each quarter. Combined with delays in supervised consumption sites, Alberta is clearly not drawing on all needed resources and treating this matter with the urgency and importance it deserves.

“Opioid addiction and abuse is quite literally a matter of life and death, yet the government habitually releases reports and makes announcements on the opioid crisis with barely any notice, and at times when they will receive the least amount of public attention.

“For example, conducting these activities just prior to a holiday weekend sends the wrong message to Albertan and belies the severity, urgency, and importance of the opioid crisis.

“As one of the most important issues facing Alberta and Canada today, we need to be very conscious and cautious about even the appearance of playing politics with people’s lives.

“Whether it comes to addressing concerns over the location of treatment clinics, federal approval for supervised consumption sites, or involving all stakeholders in developing and implementing solutions, we must remember that we are all on the same team. The goal is to save lives, not score political points.”


Water fluoridation must be on Calgary municipal elections slate: Swann

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann calls on Calgary municipal election candidates to support fluoridating the city’s water supply.

“I’m deeply disappointed by the level of misinformation and fear-mongering surrounding fluoridation,” says Swann. “It flies in the face of 35 years of research that fluoride water treatment is a safe and effective way to protect our dental health.

“The consequences are clearly visible,” Swann adds. “In the years since the City of Calgary ceased fluoridating the water supply, there has been a measurable increase in the rate of dental caries in children. The most common procedure in the Alberta Children’s Hospital is dental work under general anaesthetic. This simple procedure is straining precious operating room resources and, worst of all, is completely avoidable.

“I urge Calgarians to choose leaders that will make the evidence-based decision to re-fluoridate our city’s water supply.”


David Swann statement on World Teacher Day

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement for World Teacher Day:

“On this day we celebrate the contributions our teachers and educators make to our society. Learning is a lifelong process, and we are eternally grateful for those who help us down the road to knowledge.

“On behalf of myself, Leader David Khan, and Alberta Liberals, I extend my thanks to all the teachers in Alberta working to make sure our future generations have the tools they need to create a better, more thoughtful, and more prosperous world.”


UCP plan to privatize health care is wrong for Alberta

Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann has released the following statement regarding the UCP’s plans to privatize health care:

“Those who have a better understanding of how health care works in Alberta know that introducing more private options at this time is wrongheaded. In fact, experience has taught us that the profit motive has not served us well in health care. A properly managed public system can and will deliver a higher quality of care for a lower cost.

“Before making drastic, fundamental changes to health care deliver, Alberta first needs to address the systemic issues from increasing physician and pharmaceutical costs, unnecessary waste and bureaucracy, to long waits at every stage along the spectrum: primary, acute and continuing care.

“The issue of wait times stems directly from the fact that there is a severe lack of investment in disease and injury prevention and a chronic underinvestment in public community care and home care.

“The Health Quality Council of Alberta’s Focus on Emergency Departments website clearly indicates that acute care facilities are consistently running near capacity, at times overcapacity, due to the exceedingly high number of alternate level of care patients.

“Long waits and surgery cancellations are a direct result of acute care hospitals being used to warehouse patients who are better served elsewhere. The NDP has failed to deliver on its pledge to build 2,000 new public long-term care spaces. This is just the first step in the process of getting caught up on our backlogs, which it still hasn’t taken.

“Until the government address these root causes, no amount of investment in public or private service providers will alleviate this problem.

“Alberta Liberals know how to fix health care by making these strategic investments and eliminating waste. It is certainly not by asking the sick to pay more or setting up a systematic queue-jumping scheme.

“Albertans should reject the UCP based on this proposal alone. It is not in line with our values as a society, and it will ultimately exacerbate the challenges in our universal health care system.”


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.”