David Swann statement on World Water Day

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement in honour of World Water Day:

“Without water, earth cannot support life. This World Water Day we remind ourselves of this fact, and commit to fighting for clean water.

“Here in Alberta, I have long been an advocate for defending our water supply. In particular, our lifeblood comes out of the mountains through the Eastern Slopes, supplying southern Alberta with vital water for drinking and agriculture.

“I was pleased to see today’s government announcement of grants for watershed planning and advisory councils. However, we still lack a comprehensive, long-term plan to protect our water from careless industrial, recreational, and agricultural activities, including clearcutting and poorly managed gravel mining. Given the current challenges of climate change, this should be a priority for any responsible government. It is simply too important to ignore.”

Amendment ensures protections for survivors of sexual and domestic violence

Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann seeks to amend Bill 2 to ensure its protections apply to a broader category of survivors.

“I support the intent of this bill, but I am concerned that its protections may not be afforded to all survivors due to a technicality,” says Swann.

Bill 2, An Act to Remove Barriers for Survivors of Sexual and Domestic Violence, currently covers survivors who were either a minor, in an intimate relationship with or were dependent on the perpetrator at the time that the sexual misconduct or non-sexual assault occurred.

However, a relationship of dependency might not be an accurate description of incidences where the survivor and perpetrator(s) are co-workers with the same level of seniority, such as in a recent high-profile case of a female police officer who resigned from the Calgary Police Service after enduring years of harassment from her colleagues.

Likewise, it is unclear if dependency applies to harassment or exploitation of an adult student by a university professor or post-secondary instructor.

The bill cannot be amended to include references to co-workers since that would involve altering legislation not currently under consideration. Consequently, Swann proposes reducing the bill’s ambiguity by inserting an additional category of protection:

“the person who committed the misconduct was in a position of trust or authority in relation to the person with the claim,”

“It’s unfortunate that specific mention of co-workers and instructors was left out of the original proposal. Perhaps this is something the NDP can change in the future.” says Swann.

“In the meantime, I call on my colleagues to support my amendment to ensure more survivors are included under these important protections.”

Click here to view Dr. Swann’s amendment

David Swann Statement on International Day Against Racial Discrimination

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann made the following statement today in recognition of International Day Against Racial Discrimination:

“Important days of observance such as today’s International Day Against Racial Discrimination take on increasing relevance in light of recent events here in Alberta and around the world.

“Unfortunately, there are still far too many examples of hatred and discrimination based on race and religion. Just last week, police in Calgary were called to investigate anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic graffiti in an off-leash dog park, and a recent attack on a Quebec mosque has demonstrated that hatred has a cost – a cost that is often paid in human lives.

“That is why is we take a stand today to support and promote the Albertan and Canadian values of inclusion and diversity. We must be clear that such hatred is not acceptable.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to call our attention to more subtle forms of racial discrimination, particularly against indigenous peoples. Already burdened with a long and destructive legacy of racism that we have only just begun to address, First Nations people continue to struggle with racial discrimination that robs them of opportunity and contribute to isolation, mental illness, suicide rates 5 times the national average and violence. I acknowledge the leadership of both this provincial and federal governments on this.

A recent Maclean’s article compared Aboriginal Canadians to African-Americans, and found that Aboriginal Canadians were in a worse state on almost every metric from median income, to incarceration rate, to life expectancy.

“We cannot be complacent about this racial discrimination happening underneath our noses, Mr. Speaker.
And so I stand with the members of this Assembly in condemning any and all forms of discrimination. Our Islamic and aboriginal friends and neighbours have the right to live free of discrimination based on their religion and the colour of their skin. We must be ready to put these fine words into action – including policies and funding every day.”

Banning paid donations will not ensure a safer, more sustainable plasma supply

Edmonton, AB (March 21, 2017): Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann will not support Bill 3, the Voluntary Blood Donations Act, over concerns that banning paid donation will not ensure a safer or more sustainable supply of plasma.

“Alberta currently imports 80 per cent of its plasma products from clinics in the United States which pay donors,” says Swann. “There is absolutely no way for the government to replace this capacity with volunteer donors.

“Growing our domestic plasma supply is a critical goal. Systems allowing for paid plasma donations have had success in other jurisdictions without any of the adverse effects that the NDP are raising as justification for this bill.”

Paid plasma donations are regulated by Health Canada regulations and have been deemed to be every bit as safe as those that come from unpaid donors.

Swann is also concerned about the additional burden Bill 3 might put on the public health care system.

“Health care is already the largest line item in the provincial budget. The government cannot hope to ‘bend the cost curve’ by adding more public services that could be provided through private sector partnerships,” says Swann. “We saw this same approach with private laundry services.

“Canada deserves a safe, sustainable supply of plasma. I am not convinced Bill 3 helps us get there. For those reasons, I cannot support it.”

David Swann, leader des Libéraux albertains, reconnaît la Journée internationale de la francophonie

Edmonton, AB (March 20, 2017): David Swann, leader des Libéraux albertains, a fait la déclaration suivant en reconnaissance de la Journée internationale de la Francophonie:

“Ce Journée internationale de la Francophonie, nous célébrons nos amis et voisins francophones, qui ont contribué – et continue to contribuer – leur culture vivante à notre patrimoine pendant 200 ans. Actuellement, les franco-albertains faire partie importante de notre diversité culturelle et nous lient à la grande communauté de la francophonie. J’attends leurs contributions davantage à l’Alberta en futur.”

Edmonton, AB (March 20, 2017): Alberta Liberal Leader released the following statement in recognition of International Francophonie Day:

“This International Francophonie Day, we celebrate our friends and neighbours who have contributed – and continue to contribute – their rich culture to our heritage for 200 years. Today, Franco-Albertans play an important role in Alberta’s diverse society, and link us to the greater francophone community worldwide. I look forward to their further contributions to Alberta in the future.”

Drapeau des franco-albertains

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann responds to Budget 2017

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement in response to Budget 2017:
“I would like to applaud the government on investing in public services and infrastructure, eliminating school fees, and committing to address climate change and protect the environmental. These are priorities that Alberta Liberals share.

“However, like many Albertans, I am concerned about the increasing deficits and debt our province is accumulating as a result of government borrowing for operational costs. This budget sees the NDP government borrowing $15.2 billion for operating costs this year – the beginning of a steady upward trajectory towards $30 billion in 2019-2020. In the past, we have compared this approach to paying the mortgage with a credit card or selling the family farm to pay the monthly bills. It simply does not make financial sense.

“Of course, anything is possible when you’re paying by credit, but this is not sustainable in the long-term. In this budget, as with every previous budget since this government took power, we see more spending with no plan to pay it back. Alberta’s total liabilities now sit at $85.7 billion, and higher interest rates associated with further credit rating downgrades will make this task even more difficult. I have no confidence that the NDP approach will do anything but add to the $1.4 billion in debt servicing costs Albertans are already paying.

“Fairness to future generations is a Liberal value. The NDP legacy of debt is anything but fair. We need to have an adult conversation about spending and revenue. The government cannot continue to spend at this rate while relying on volatile resource revenue.

“We would like to see the government make strategic decisions and targeted investments in areas that will reduce costs in the long run. Getting ahead of the cost curve is preferable to bending it.

“This is particularly the case for our province’s health care system. We need massive investments in home care, disease and injury prevention, wellness and mental health. This will not only save money and lower wait times by reducing the strain on the acute care system, but it will also improve quality of care and patient outcomes.

“Alberta’s legal system also needs an injection of cash to remove barriers and improve access to justice. Alberta Liberals have championed increasing funding to Legal Aid Alberta. Chronic underfunding has led to unnecessary backlogs, delays, and slower trial process when people try to self-represent. The government has committed some money to this program, but not enough to bring it out of its $10-million deficit.

“Alberta Liberals also support expanding the Drug Treatment Court program, which received no mention in this budget. The program badly underfunded for the valuable results it delivers in terms of keeping addicts out of prison and getting them back on the road to recovery.

“The Metta Clinic, which is the only specialized clinic for transgender youth, only receives enough funding to operate for half a day per month. This is totally unacceptable. We urge the government to increase funding so that these vulnerable youth can get the services they so desperately need.

“Finally, we need a savings plan. Over the last number of years, we have seen our trust and contingency funds depleted at an alarming rate – the contingency account will be gone by this time next year. We need to reverse this trend today and start saving for tomorrow.

“Overall, Alberta Liberals support the government’s attempt at protecting public goods and services, but we are calling on the NDP to show more fiscal restraint, make better investments and savings, and produce a plan to diversify our revenue and pay down the debt.”

Federal funding welcome relief for opioid crisis and health system

Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann welcomes the announcement of federal government funding for the opioid crisis, mental health and home care.

“This is good news,” says Swann. “The opioid-crisis urgently needed these resources. However, money alone will not solve this. We must have better, focused leadership and a more comprehensive, cross-jurisdictional strategy.”

In addition to the $6 million in immediate support to Alberta’s opioid-crisis response, the federal government is offering targeted investments of $703.2 million for home care and $586 million for mental health initiatives over the next decade.

“Mental health is certainly an area in desperate need of substantial further investment,” says Swann. “And doubling the investment in home care is a long-standing Alberta Liberal policy.”

“We believe these measures will help improve care, reduce costs, and lower wait times by alleviating pressure on our acute care system.”

Member’s Statement by David Swann, March 9th

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann made the following Private Member’s Statement to the assembly today:

“This week, in a rare display of nonpartisan cooperation, we held an important debate on the opioid crisis, and I thank my colleagues for that.

“We also heard from two courageous advocates for better education and more action on the devastating effects of opioid abuse and addiction.

“Petra Shultz, who lost her son, Danny, works with Moms Stop the Harm – a network of Canadian mothers and families whose loved ones have died from substance misuse. And Rosalind Davis, who lost her partner, Nathan, and works with Changing the Face of Addiction, a not-for-profit seeking political change and to educate the public about drug and addiction issues. They say the government’s refusal to call a state of emergency is unacceptable and that it perpetuates a stigma about opioid-related deaths.

“To its credit, the government has taken many positive steps, which I applaud, but its approach has mainly been reactive and piecemeal.

“Opioid-related overdoses and deaths are reaching unprecedented levels and have now become a national crisis.

“We don’t have the whole picture yet because the data is simply not available. But what we do know, is deeply troubling. In 2016, there were 343 deaths from fentanyl, and many more from other opioids yet to be classified. But, a 33 per cent increase in one year shows this crisis is growing at an alarming rate.

“If we were getting ahead it, then I might agree with the NDP, but, we’re five years into this, and the government, by its own admission, is still developing the strategy.

“We require focused leadership, and a cross-departmental strategy that would provide co-ordination between all government ministries and across all sectors of society.

“Finally, we need to recognize this for what it is, an emergency, and use every means at our disposal to save Albertans’ lives.”

NAIT Board of Governors appointment echoes Tory patronage

Ray Martin’s appointment as Chair of the Board of Governors of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) reeks of NDP political patronage.

“This does not pass the smell test,” says Swann. “The NDP are clearly continuing the Tory legacy of posting party insiders to important public positions.”

The Order in Council, approved on March 7th, appoints Ray Martin as a member and designates him as chair of the Board of Governors of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, for a term to expire on March 6, 2020.

Alberta Liberals have been staunch advocates of the creation of an independent appointments commission that would ensure these appointments are based solely on merit and not personal or political connections.

“The NDP has only made symbolic changes to the appointments process, which amounts to advertising the position on the government’s job board,” says Swann, “It still lacks the necessary independence and transparency that only an arms-length organization would afford.”

Swann is calling on the government to put an immediate stop to political patronage by establishing an independent commission to oversee the appointments process.

Swann questions government on fentanyl-related crime

In Question Period today, Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann questioned the NDP government about recently-obtained statistics from the Calgary Police Service (CPS).

Swann received a briefing note from the CPS indicating a steady increase in fentanyl-related calls to police, charges being laid, and property crimes attributed to addictions.

“A briefing note I obtained from the Calgary Police Service shows the further impact fentanyl is having on policing resources and in the community. In 2016, CPS responded to 223 overdose calls, resulting in 111 fentanyl-related charges. These numbers have risen dramatically over the last 5 years. There has also been a corresponding spike in property crime driven by addiction. If the government has all the resources it needs, why do these numbers keep going up?”

Swann also questioned the government on the 10 Albertans who died while in police custody in 2016. Two of their deaths have been confirmed to be the result of overdoses, and six more cases remain pending investigation.

Finally, Swann argued that the pervasive nature of the opioid crisis requires leadership and a comprehensive, cross-jurisdictional plan, one that would have to be provided in a state of emergency. He questioned when the government would make such a plan available to the public.

CPS Briefing Note prepared for Dr. David Swann (Redacted)
Letter of reply from Kathleen Ganley Minister of Justice Re reports concerning death due to overdoses (Feb 02 2017)