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.


EMS workers spend many unproductive hours waiting in hospital hallways: survey

RYAN RUMBOLT

Emergency Medical Services employees in Alberta say more can be done to cut down on patient transfers, hallway wait times and ambulance “red alerts.”

The Liberals conducted an anonymous survey of Alberta paramedics this summer. Gary Bobrovitz, spokesperson for the party, said copies of the survey were given to the EMS union for distribution to members.

David Khan, Liberal party leader, shared the results with EMS workers and Calgarians at a panel on Thursday. Bobrovitz said the crowd of attendees was small but included at least a few EMS workers.

The survey findings helped the party draft a number of EMS improvement recommendations to the NDP, calling on the province to reduce overtime hours, lengthy waits for patient handover in hospital while bolstering the community paramedic program.

Over 100 EMS staff responded to the survey anonymously to avoid workplace repercussions, the Liberal party said. And while Bobrovitz said some of the results are “largely anecdotal,” the numbers show EMS members have ongoing concerns with the level of service they can provide and long patient transfer wait times.

The survey summary shows 57.3 per cent of those surveyed believe hallway wait times have increased since they had begun working for EMS. Another 28.2 per cent of respondents believed the wait times were unchanged, with only 9.7 per cent believing wait times have gone down.

The Liberals’ data showed paramedics spent more than 650,000 hours in 2016 waiting to transfer care of patients to hospital staff. EMS staff also clocked more than 135,000 hours of overtime that year, for an estimated $10 million in additional wages at the taxpayers’ expense.

In the survey, EMS workers identified long hallway waits for patient hand over “as a source of delayed response times,” are “impacting the quality of care they were able to deliver,” and are having “a negative impact” on relationships with other healthcare workers and on their “quality of care.”

Workers also said the long waits have “led to red alerts that have forced ambulances out of surrounding areas to cover the Calgary region.”

The Liberals say those surveyed identified a lack of beds, a lack of communication between facilities, and patients who don’t require emergency care using emergency services as possible causes for the long waits.

As far as solutions, workers said more fast track zones, having a doctor present at triage and more long term care options to free up beds could cut down on wait times and take pressure off frontline hospital staff.

In addition to the survey, the Liberals also set up a hotline this summer for EMS workers and citizens to anonymously report their EMS concerns. “In regards to the response from citizens, individuals highlighted increased wait times, as well as issues with provision of care,” the summary reads.

“Individuals spoke about their experiences in the case of some who waited a long time to have their call answered or others whose provision of care was not patient-centred.”

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman criticized the hotline for “directing patient and frontline feedback” away from AHS’s feedback line “and toward their own political party.”

The province increased funding for EMS by $23 million in its 2018 budget and has “committed to creating 2,000 long term and dementia care spaces by 2019,” Hoffman said in a statement.

Albertans with EMS feedback should contact the AHS Patient Feedback team by calling 1-855-550-2555.

(HTTPS://CALGARYHERALD.COM/AUTHOR/RCRUMBOLTPOSTMEDIA) Updated: October 5, 2018

Calgary EMS ambulance P O S T M E D I A A R C H I V E S

RRumbolt@postmedia.com (mailto:RRumbolt@postmedia.com)

On Twitter: @RCRumbolt (https://twitter.com/RCRumbolt)


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 Liberal MLA David Swann release statement on International Day of World Indigenous Peoples

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

This year’s theme is Indigenous People’s migration and movement.

Many Indigenous Peoples are forced to leave their homes, families and traditional ways due to extreme inequalities in funding between reserves and urban centres. They often struggle to find a better life as a result of inadequate supports and systemic prejudices.

Khan stated, “There has been significant progress over the last decade including the Alberta government’s sixties scoop apology. But, much more needs to be done to address the gross inequalities faced by Alberta’s Indigenous Peoples.

Swann stated, “On this Day we should reflect on being better partners building a brighter future for Indigenous Peoples. This must include respect among equals and for the Nation-to-Nation relationship.This must be both a celebration and a call for justice.”

Alberta was built with the enduring contributions of Indigenous Peoples. We must all pledge to build together a more equal and more inclusive Province for all Albertans.


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

Alberta Liberals David Khan and David Swann issue the following joint statement:

We join with Albertans in celebrating Heritage Day. The first Monday in August recognizes the rich and diverse multinational cultures that have helped to build this great province and our wonderful country.

Khan stated, “Together we acknowledge the diversity, inclusion, tolerance and freedom that are the hallmarks of our proud democracy and our vibrant society.

Swann added. “Our rich mosaic includes people of all religions, ages, sexual orientations, gender identities and ethnicities, including the Indigenous Peoples who first called this land home. They all contribute to the quality of life we enjoy and help build a better future for our children and our grandchildren.”

Alberta Liberals are proud to support and encourage these values on behalf of all the citizens in this province and throughout this country.

Happy Heritage Day – Enjoy the Long Weekend.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA Dr David Swann launch EMS Hotline

Dr. David Swann and the Alberta Liberal Opposition have launched an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Hotline: 1-888-442-4664

The Hotline will give Albertans and EMS staff a chance to anonymously report concerns with the Provincial EMS system including delays in response times and hours waiting in ER hallways.

Swann and Khan exposed wasteful mismanagement within EMS earlier this year which delays EMS response times, impacts patient safety and increases staff overtime. EMS staff worked 135,000 hours overtime. That O.T. cost Alberta taxpayers around $12 million in extra wages in 2016.

AHS data showed that 2 member EMS crews spent 650,000 hours in one year waiting in emergency rooms to transfer patients to attending nurses. The median wait time in Alberta is nearly four times greater than the United Kingdom standard of 15 minutes.

Swann stated, “I believe the EMS Hotline will help us learn more about the crisis in our EMS system. Alberta Liberals will use this data to push for solutions and pressure the NDP Government to take urgent needed action.”

Khan stated, “The NDP announced $25 million more in spending for EMS in this year’s Budget. We still don’t know how this money is being spent or if it will address these issues.

“Alberta Liberals want immediate policy changes that will target excessive overtime hours and hallway wait times. Albertans deserve a better EMS system.”

In addition to the EMS Hotline, the Alberta Liberals are also issuing a survey to EMS workers to learn more about their workplace challenges and solutions.

Albertans can share their EMS concerns by calling the Hotline at 1-888-442-4664.Their identities and information will be protected. If they prefer to share their experiences in writing they can send an email in confidence to hotlineEMSalberta@gmail.com

Khan and Dr. Swann will host a News Conference at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, July 19, at the Calgary-Mountain View Constituency Office (#102, 723 – 14 Street NW, Calgary).

They will also be available for interviews by phone or Skype.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann blast NDP year-end financial results

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann issue release on the 2017-18 Alberta Government year-end financial results:

Khan stated, “Albertans continue to suffer through a jobless recovery while the NDP Government continues to ride the resource revenue roller coaster.

“Income tax revenue is $402 million short of the NDP’s own Budget projections. Albertans have to be working to pay income taxes. More Albertans are forced to be self-employed just to give themselves a pay cheque.”

Khan added, “Corporate tax income is $470 million lower than forecasted. Businesses are going bankrupt or moving away. NDP policies continue to drive investment away from this Province.

“The current $8 billion deficit has been reduced by a $1.9 billion increase in non-renewable resource revenue. Getting a lucky bounce in oil prices is not a financial plan.

“Albertans still have $8 billion reasons to be very unhappy with these financial results. The NDP are still riding the resource roller coaster. That ride will go off the rail if oil prices fall again.”

Swann stated, “Alberta Liberals would tackle this problem with pro-growth tax reform that would expand the economy and boost Government revenue to pay for social services. The NDP are mortgaging Albertans’ future and their children’s future with a current debt over $43 billion. The annual interest payments on that debt are $1.4 billion.

“Government spending is $400 million higher than last year and Albertans are not getting value for their money. Government spending isn’t going towards reducing class sizes. It’s not going towards boosting AISH payments. And the massive health budget isn’t reducing wait times.

“We don’t have to spend more. We have to spend more wisely. Albertans simply can’t afford this NDP Government.”


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann release statement on 5th Anniversary of the 2013 Calgary Flood

Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann have issued the following joint release:

“Five years ago today Calgarians, were faced with a catastrophic event, the costliest flood in Canadian history.

“Facing this crisis, the people of Calgary proved their resilience by coming together to rebuild after the destruction of homes and property. On this day we should take time to appreciate the incredible community spirit Calgarians displayed in response to the flood.

“We also need to look at preventing and mitigating future floods to prevent a disaster on this scale from occurring again.

“Alberta has been described as the “Natural Disaster Capital” by the Insurance Bureau of Canada. It is time the NDP Government began to develop new strategies for disaster mitigation and relief that will protect all Albertans.

“Alberta Liberals are calling for the development of low-cost comprehensive government-supported overland flood insurance, something other G7 countries ensure their citizens are protected by. Both the Alberta and Federal Governments must collaborate together to make this plan a reality.”