Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA Dr. David Swann call for protection of Albertans’ rights to medically assisted dying

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA Dr. David Swann are calling on the NDP Health Minister to enforce a patient’s right to medically assisted dying at Alberta’s religious-based health facilities.

Covenant Health facilities are refusing to allow medically assisted deaths on their premises, according to media reports. They are also blocking patients from receiving medical assessments. They will not even allow them to fill out paperwork at their facilities. This is shameful. This is also illegal.

Swann stated, “These patients have a constitutionally-guaranteed right to humane medically assisted death.

“It is unreasonable to force vulnerable and very ill Albertans to undergo physician assessments at other facilities. It is shocking that they are being forced to undergo those assessments or fill out forms on the sidewalk and at bus stops. Alberta Liberals insist this practice end immediately.””

Khan stated, “Patients have rights. Why is this NDP Government not defending them? These are public facilities using public funding. They must not be allowed to circumvent the law because of their ties to the Catholic Church. The NDP Health Minister must protect patients’ rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Alberta Liberals are calling for the law to be enforced. We stand with these vulnerable Albertans. They deserve to die with dignity.

David Khan and Dr. Swann are available for interviews.


Alberta Liberals demand answers on staggering Oil Patch Liabilities

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann are demanding answers from the NDP Government on an estimated quarter of a trillion dollars in total oil and gas liabilities.

It could cost up to $260 billion to clean up the Alberta Oil Patch according to FOIP documents based on comments by a senior official with Alberta Environment Regulator (AER).

Khan stated, “That numbers are utterly shocking. It’s more than 16 times greater than the $1.6 billion in liability payments collected from energy companies. It’s more than 4 times greater than the $58 billion cleanup costs publicly estimated by the NDP Government. It’s almost 3 times greater than the $93 billion in projected total debt for Alberta.

“Alberta Liberals have demanded greater transparency on these liability numbers. We tried to boost accountability by suggesting an amendment to Government Motion XX during the spring session of the Legislature. The NDP turned us down.”

Swann stated, “We now know why the NDP rejected our amendment. They were trying to hide these disastrous figures from the public. It’s clear the NDP are not being honest with Albertans. The NDP are not living up to their fiscal or environmental responsibilities to this province.

“The Government must make all this information fully public including how these costs were calculated. Alberta Liberals demand there be safeguards for the environment and protection for Alberta taxpayers.

The NDP have criticized previous governments for not addressing the industry’s cleanup responsibilities. But, after 3 ½ years in office the NDP Government has not made any progress. Clearly, they are also kicking the can down the road.

Albertans should not be learning about these staggering liabilities from a FOIP search. The NDP Government must stop hiding this important information. Albertans deserve the truth.

David Khan and Dr. Swann are available for interviews.


Media Advisory: Alberta Liberals to sponsor rally about the Seclusion Rooms Issue at the Alberta Legislature

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann are sponsoring a rally in support of concerned parents on the use of Seclusion Rooms prior to the opening of the Fall Session of the Alberta Legislature.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan stated, “We are raising awareness in support of many parents across Alberta who are concerned about the use and misuse of “Seclusion Rooms” in provincial school systems. These rooms are frequently utilized with special needs students. There have been several shocking incidents that had traumatic effects on the students. Parents neither approved of nor were even made aware the child was placed in an isolation room. This must stop immediately.

“We are also demanding that new mandatory rules governing the use of these seclusion rooms be approved by the NDP Education Minister during this Fall session of the Legislature. These rules must provide sensitive and compassionate direction for school systems surrounding the use of these rooms. Communication with parents and the outcome for special needs students must be included as key parts of these guidelines.”

Alberta Liberal MLA Dr David Swann stated, “Seclusion rooms can be devastating for some students and are counterproductive to helping students and addressing misbehaviour. Instead, evidence shows Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Positive Behaviour Intervention Supports (PBISs) are the key to helping these students. Seclusions rooms should never be used as a form of punishment or a way to modify student behaviour.

“We want the NDP Government to implement a mandatory province-wide policy on seclusion rooms. We are also recommending the creation of a sub-office of the Disability Advocate focused specifically on advocating for and listening to children with disabilities and their parents.”

Jenn Thompson, a mother of a special needs student and a leading community activist with the Serious Spectrum/Sensory Support community, will be hosting and speaking at the rally.

WHAT:        Rally on Seclusion Rooms

WHERE:     Alberta Legislature Front Steps

WHEN:       11:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Monday, October 29, 2018


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!”


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.”


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann call for protection of personal data used by political parties

Alberta Liberals issue the following release on Canada’s Privacy and Information Commissioners call for legislation on use of personal information by political parties

Federal and Provincial Privacy Commissioners are urging all levels of governments to enact laws that provide meaningful privacy obligations for political parties.

The Alberta Liberals strongly support this position.

Khan stated, “Albertans and Canadians must be protected. The sheer amount of personal data collected and used by political parties can lead to potential abuse. The danger is real.

“We need to get ahead of this by passing strong laws. Albertans must also have a right to access their personal information controlled by political parties. We must have a fully independent body enforcing these protections.

“I’m calling on the NDP Government to follow these recommendations and bring forward legislation before the next election. Our democracy is precious. We need to safeguard it.”

Swann stated, “Alberta Liberals continue to be leaders on democratic reform. We pushed to establish Political Action Committee (“PAC”) regulation, introducing the most comprehensive PAC regulation legislation in Canada in last fall’s sitting. We recommended strong standards on electoral reform.

“We will keep fighting for these changes. We will keep fighting for all Albertans.’’

Khan and Swann are available for interview


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann release statement on Labour Day

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann issue the following statement on Labour Day:

Swann stated, “On this day we remember the many decades of activism and sacrifice that keep us safe and healthy at work. Albertans have risked their safety and their livelihoods to make their job site a better place.”

“We know these have been tough times for Alberta workers. Alberta Liberals have their backs. We support them and are advocating for them.

“We are pushing the government to fully include paid farmworkers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Workers’ Compensation Act, the Labour Relations Code, and the Employment Standards Code. We are also advocating to amend the Alberta’s Labour Code to allow unpaid political candidate leave with a job guarantee.”

Khan stated, “Alberta has a long history of advocacy for better worker rights. This cannot stop. Albertans deserve to be treated fairly, with respect and dignity on the job. As we enjoy our weekend, we should reflect on how we can improve safety at work, be paid a reasonable wage and have protections in case of accident.