Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann demand more action on Legal Aid, court wait times

Alberta Liberals David Khan and David Swann have released the following statement in response to today’s announcement from Alberta Justice:

Alberta’s Justice Minister announced the government is introducing more duty counsel services at first appearance bail hearings to reduce court backlogs.

Both Khan and Swann say this will help as a limited step forward – but ultimately this is a grossly inadequate solution.

“We are supportive of the move but it does not address the real issues. The NDP Government lacks a comprehensive strategy to address systemic problems with court wait times.”

Khan stated, “This only addresses first appearances. There is too much self-representation in the courts which slows down trials, clogs up the system and denies disadvantaged Albertans a fair and equitable hearing.

“The Government should be heeding the advice of Criminal Defence Lawyer Association (CDLA) and providing an immediate 40% funding increase for Legal Aid as part of a 65% increase over the next four years. We also need to see income thresholds for support raised. Too many Albertans who need this service aren’t even eligible to receive it.

“The Government also needs to be implementing other strategies for reducing court wait times, such as reviewing the efficiency of the “file ownership” system for Crown Prosecutors, implementing a universal province-wide trial scheduling system, enforcing timely release of disclosure, appointing and funding more provincial court justices, and pressuring the federal Government to fill Superior Court Judge vacancies.”

Swann added to Khan’s remarks “This Minister is not listening to all sides on this issue. I am hearing from defence lawyers in Alberta that they are not being properly consulted. Justice is about balance and that means bringing all stakeholders to the table to find solutions to these problems.

“The Minister also needs to get serious about addressing the backlogs and systemic issues at the Calgary Medical Examiner office which have led to lengthy turnaround times for death investigations.”


Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann and Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan are calling for support to the Siksika Nation as they face state of emergency with flooding crisis

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann and Liberal Leader David Khan are calling for action from the NDP Government on the Siksika Nation state of emergency flooding crisis:

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says the NDP Government should immediately reach out to support the Siksika Nation as it is facing a crisis today and not wait for proposed changes to the Emergency Management Act in the fall.

The Siksika Nation has declared a 7-day local state of emergency as it struggles with massive overland flooding and limited resources to deal with the crisis.

Siksika Nation chief and council says there is a risk to people, property and infrastructure.

At an emergency meeting Tuesday, Chief Joseph Weasel Child said 30 homes are affected by flooding and up to 300 kilometers of the 500 kilometers of road on Siksika land are under water.

Weasel Child added “the crisis is now” and is concerned about river flooding once the snowpack melts.

“This is the worst I have seen in my life on the nation,” he said.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan says “Siksika Nation needs help now – not later this year.”

“Waiting for the report will be too late to assist the Siksika Nation which has suffered a series of disasters including the flooding this week, wildfires in October and the massive Southern Alberta Flood in 2013.”


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann react to Bill 12

Alberta Liberals David Khan and David Swann have issued the following release on the NDP Government’s proposed legislation to reduce natural gas, crude oil and refined bitumen exports to B.C. through licensing:

Khan and Swann spoke on Bill 12 saying, “Pushing the price of gasoline to $2 a litre in BC won’t build the Trans Mountain Pipeline. It will build a backlash against Albertans.”

David Khan stated, “This is divisive strategy that will harm Alberta with job losses, reduce provincial revenue and will not get this pipeline built.

“Bill 12 grants extreme new powers to the NDP Government that will them to unilaterally force industry to reduce exports without any accountability. That is undemocratic.”

Dr. Swann criticized Bill 12 saying, “The lack of details in this legislation is disturbing. The NDP Government wants extraordinary powers to interfere with the oil and gas industry but won’t provide specifics or limitations on those new powers.

“There is no proper arm’s length appeal process. The NDP Energy Minister will act to both cut export licenses and renew export licenses. The NDP Government drafted this legislation for its political convenience – not for the good of Albertans.”


2018-19 Budget: Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Liberal MLA David Swann say the NDP is gambling away Albertans’ future

The NDP Government continues to spend away the future of Albertans, their children and grandchildren with a staggering $96 billion of debt by 2023.

Speaking on the 2018-19 Budget, David Khan said, “Instead of getting off the Resource Revenue Roller Coaster, the NDP just bought a ticket for the front seat. Albertans are being asked to hold their breath and hang on for a wild ride.

“Albertans are facing another massive $9 billion deficit this year and almost $9 billion again in 2019.

“The NDP is spending without corresponding revenue and spending on the wrong things. The money isn’t going to reduce class sizes. It’s not going to support AISH recipients and vulnerable Albertans. Instead, the NDP is doubling down on our volatile oil and gas sector with corporate welfare such as the announced billion-dollar partial upgrader boondoggle and the Energy Diversification Act. Many Albertans are being left behind as the debt skyrockets ahead.”

David Swann added, “To make matters worse, we are paying almost $2 billion every year in interest costs to service the provincial debt.  How many schools would that pay for? How many nurses would that hire? How many services could that have provided to the citizens of this province?

“I am encouraged by the increases in funding to address the EMS, mental health and opioid crises. However, the massive health budget needs to be managed more effectively.”

The NDP Government says it hopes to eliminate the deficit in 5-6 years, gambling on hypothetical future revenue from an energy project that is still in limbo – the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. There is no guarantee if or when this project will get built.

Khan concluded, “You can’t take phantom revenue to the bank and spend it. We must reform our tax system to pay for the services Albertans need today.

“Albertans deserve a sensible financial plan, not an uncontrolled plunge into staggering debt.”

David Khan and David Swann are available for media interviews.


Liberal MLA David Swann and Liberal Leader David Khan says EMS Union (HSAA) data shows systemic crisis

Liberal MLA David Swann says, “The NDP Government should immediately boost frontline resources for EMS across Alberta.”

“AHS statistics show EMS events are up almost 19% over 5 years but there has been only a 2.9% increase in new ambulances and 3.4% increase in new full-time equivalent paramedics.”

“EMS is struggling to meet day-to-day demands of Albertans and the situation is escalating.”

“The opioid crisis is only making the crisis worse and lives are at stake.”

“When ambulances cannot reach patients in a timely fashion the safety of those patients is put at risk.”

Liberal Leader David Khan says, “There are more than 63,000 extra EMS calls over the past 5 years and EMS is stretched to the limits to handle the needs of over 500,000 new Albertans.”

“The NDP Government must not only provide additional resources but improve the efficiency of the system with paramedics spending 650,000 hours per year in ER awaiting patient transfers to nursing staff.”

David Swann is available for interviews at 1:15 pm on the “INS” at the Alberta Legislature. He is also available by phone or Skype.

David Khan is available for interview by phone or Skype.

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For more information, contact:

Keegan Wynychuk
Alberta Liberal Opposition
Tel: 780.644.7719
Cell: 780.919.3158
liberal.communications@assembly.ab.ca


MLA David Swann praises progress and calls for more action during Canadian Agricultural Safety Week

Edmonton, AB – March 14th, 2018: Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann made the following statement on Canadian Agricultural Safety Week:

“Canadian Agricultural Safety Week is a time of tremendous importance for Alberta and a special time for me, as well. For years, I pushed successive conservative governments to protect the basic rights of farm workers and bring Alberta’s standards in line with the rest of Canada.

“Despite serious errors in communication by the NDP Government, I was proud to support the protection and benefits the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act provides. This bill was a boon to both farm worker’s rights and access to markets for our agricultural products.

“While it is shameful Alberta took so long to provide farmworkers with the protections that are their fundamental right, we can be proud of the progress we have made. However, we cannot grow complacent and forget that there is still work to be done.

“While farmers and ranchers have received significant resources to help them adapt to Alberta’s improved legislation, many of the workers on the farms and ranches seem to have been left out of the equation.

“For this Canadian Agricultural Week I’m calling on this government to continue the progress they have made and make further efforts to support and assist farm and ranch workers in this transition to their new workplace standards.”

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan echoes Swann’s comments calling for the NDP Government to take action.

“As a lawyer and strong supporter of human rights I am passionate about the needs to protect Alberta farm workers.”

“The NDP Government has left these people in limbo for more than 2 years after approving the legislation in 2015 and now should move quickly to finally address their concerns”

“Farm workers deserve fair and equal treatment and should have the same benefits as other Alberta workers.”


Liberal MLA David Swann proposes environmental accountability amendment to pipeline motion

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann is requesting to propose an environmental accountability amendment to the Government’s motion asking the Legislative Assembly to reaffirm its support for the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion:

Speaking on the amendment Swann stated, “Albertans expect us to hold this government to account on their environmental promises. Many Albertans want to see the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion, however they are concerned about both the environmental costs and financial liabilities of our oil sands industry.”

Swann’s motion would be calling on the Legislative Assembly to address public concerns and bolster public confidence in bitumen production and pipeline transport by committing to report annually on Alberta’s oil sands region through a transparent, full cost accounting framework.

The full cost accounting framework would include both reclamation liabilities and greenhouse gas emissions.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan commented, “By committing to transparent reporting the Legislative Assembly could ease concerns and improve accountability. I am confident this would increase support for the pipeline project both at home and abroad.

“We must be willing to be honest about all environmental and reclamation costs associated with our oil sands for the good of the industry, the people of Alberta, and our environment.”

Swann will be available to media for questions at 1:15 in the rotunda of the Legislature before questions period.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann set out priorities for the 2018 spring legislative session

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann set the following issues as Liberal priorities:

Pay Equity

Alberta remains the only province without Equal Pay for Equal Work legislation. On International Women’s Day the NDP Government should be ashamed of that record. Alberta has the highest gender wage gap in Canada. Canada has the third highest gap among OECD countries.

“The Alberta Liberals are demanding proactive pay equity legislation and stronger enforcement of the Alberta Human Rights Act.”

 Pipelines

 “Alberta Liberals support the twinning of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline. We understand how important this project is to job creation and the economy in Alberta, and developing new markets for our oil & gas products. However, we must make a clear transition away from reliance on fossil fuels, especially heavy oil.”

Job Loss

 “Alberta families are still suffering from an economic recession and the recovery has been meager at best. Consumer and investor confidence are down. We’ve lost thousands of oil and gas jobs we will never get back and the jobs we are creating are lower paying.

“The only response the NDP government has offered us is a $9 billion dollar deficit and doubling down with public money on the volatile oil and gas industry. They aren’t rebuilding our economy and they are certainly not building a sustainable one.

“Alberta Liberals will push for tax reforms to encourage private investment and job creation. We will also call for carbon tax revenue to be used to develop technology that will make the oil and gas industry more environmentally sustainable.”

Opioid Crisis

“The opioid crisis continues to plague Albertans. There have been massive drug busts by police both in Edmonton and Calgary in the past month. Alberta Liberals will be demanding increased resources for law enforcement to reduce supply of dangerous drugs like fentanyl.

“We will also continue to advocate for greater access to safe consumption clinics to combat overdoses and fatalities. Our priority is to improve access to safe consumption sites, including in First Nation communities and reserves.”

Disability Advocate

There is still no disability advocate 10 months after the NDP approved the position. The Alberta Liberal Caucus continues to deal with heartbreaking stories from vulnerable Albertans unable to get the care and assistance they need.  We will demand the immediate appointment of an advocate and adequate funding to improve this situation.”

Electoral Reform

“The Premier committed to a provincial election in 2019. Alberta Liberals will be pushing the Government to improve diversity among MLAs by reforming our electoral system. We will ensure the government is consulting Albertans on electoral reform.”

 


More, culturally-sensitive resources needed for opioid crisis in southern Alberta

Alberta Liberals say the government must provide more targeted, culturally-sensitive resources for the opioid crisis in southern Alberta.

“We applaud the local response by Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services and the Blood Tribe Police Service,” says Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann. “First responders have done an excellent job of responding to overdoses and preventing further deaths.”

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan agrees and is calling for more government resources to be mobilized in southern Alberta for the opioid crisis.

“Opioid overdoses and fatalities in Alberta are heart-breaking,” says Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan. “While we mourn the loss of loved-ones and send our sympathies to affected families, we also know many more lives could have been lost given the potency of these drugs.

“There remains an urgent need for more resources in southern Alberta that are culturally-sensitive to Indigenous people and their communities.”

Alberta Liberals believe federal funds for opioids and future cannabis revenue should be invested in mental health and addictions prevention, and expanding access to treatment in smaller municipalities, as well as rural and Indigenous communities.


Statement on the detention and treatment of “Angela Cardinal.”

“The treatment Angela Cardinal received was horrendous, and the NDP government’s response to it is grossly inadequate.

“Angela Cardinal was more than a victim of sexual assault. Her rights were repeatedly violated by acts of racism, injustice, and plain stupidity.

“Despite what the justice minister claims, the system alone did not victimize her. It was the result of a series of unconscionable and incomprehensible decisions made by individuals.

“There needs to be a reckoning, and it must start with the Minister of Justice, Kathleen Ganley.

“The thought that racism might have been a factor was a fear that Minister Ganley said kept her up at night. That all but vanished in the light of day as she views it as systemic racism, not a single identifiable act.

“In the same way, she refuses to find fault with any particular individual who had contact with Angela Cardinal, including with the judge who, it is now clear, wrongfully imprisoned her.

“The fact is Angela Cardinal should never have been incarcerated. Every horrifying and demeaning event that followed was a direct result.

“That is why I am calling on the Minister of Justice to write a letter to the Canadian Judicial Council to order an inquiry into these actions, as she did previously with regard to Justice Robin Camp.

“While this may be a symbolic gesture at this point, it is an important one, and it is absolutely important that she make it.

“Perhaps the final insult is the announcement of a paltry $50,000 bursary to assist women and Indigenous peoples. I suspect this amount would pale in comparison to what might be awarded in a successful civil suit.

“Regardless, the memory of Angela Cardinal is worth much more than what the Minister of Justice and the Government of Alberta have offered.”