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.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann renew call for drug decriminalization on International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember those we have lost and spur actions to help those who can still be saved. It is particularly significant here in Alberta where we face an ongoing severe opioid crisis.

Swann stated, “Drug addiction and its link to mental health is a complex issue. It is also a deadly problem that is not being adequately resolved here in Alberta and around the world.

“We believe this is a disease, not a crime. We must treat people with this deadly illness and not punish them as offenders. Removing the stigma around this entire issue should be a priority.

“We are again calling for the decriminalization of drug possession in small amounts. This will reduce stigma and better deploy resources now being used to punish the sick. The Alberta Liberal Caucus is appealing to all three levels of Government to support this approach as part of an integrated national strategy.”

Khan stated, “Decriminalization has worked in other jurisdictions. In Portugal, deaths from drug overdoses are three per one million, well below the the EU average of 17.3 per one million. Portugal also saw a dramatic decrease in the rate of HIV infection.

“Drug decriminalization is only part of the solution for addiction and drug related deaths. The Alberta Liberals are demanding the NDP Government boost health spending beyond the current 6% of the health budget for addictions and mental health.

“Too many people are still dying. These fatalities must be stopped. We must take bold action.”


Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann releases statement on Calgary Pride

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann has issued the following statement in recognition of Calgary Pride:

“I am excited to once again join with Calgarians in celebrating LGBTQ2S+ communities.

“Alberta Liberals have led all political parties in support for LGBTQ2S+ Albertans.

“In 1994 we were the first party to call for sexual orientation to be added as a prohibited ground of discrimination to the Alberta Human Rights Act.

“In 2014 we introduced Private Member’s Bill 202 to make gay-straight alliances (GSAs) mandatory in schools where students ask for them. I was immensely proud of the changes that legislation led to.

“David Khan has continued the proud Liberal tradition on LGBTQ2S+ issues by raising issues such as improving access to hormone replacement therapy, putting an end to conversion therapy and fighting back against homophobic dog whistle politics.

“Calgarians can be proud of the progress we have made and optimistic about the progress we will continue to make. We are all helping to establish Alberta as a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTQ2S+ individuals.”


Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann releases Statement on 14th Annual Farm Workers’ Day

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement to mark Alberta’s 14th annual Farm Worker’s Day:

“I am pleased to spend another Farm Worker’s Day celebrating the vital work every day of the year that puts food on our tables. This day also recognizes the fundamental rights and protections now offered to farm workers under the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act. There is still much work to do in realizing health and safety in agricultural operations and ensuring paid farmworkers are fairly treated. For too many years, I spent this day mourning those killed or injured on the job, and calling for the government to guarantee their basic rights to a healthy and safe workplace, and a guarantee of compensation for injury.

“I am therefore deeply disappointed that some politicians in Alberta are treating these rights as a political football, and threatening to repeal them. Alberta cannot afford to return to the last century of shame that they promise.”