Alberta Liberals condemn NDP and UCP gutting opposition caucuses’ and MLAs’ budgets

Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan and Caucus Leader David Swann condemn NDP and UCP strong-arm tactics to weaken opposition parties and independent MLAs.

Khan states, “This is a bad day for democracy in Alberta. Albertans’ voices are being silenced. The NDP and UCP are ganging up to slash opposition parties’ and independent MLAs’ budgets by up to 60%. Clearly, the NDP and UCP fear the effectiveness of independent opposition MLAs.

“The “Gang of Two” are trying to entrench dual party rule in Alberta. This brutal tactic may work in tin pot dictatorships but not in this province. Alberta is an open democracy where citizens are legally entitled to many political choices.

“The Liberal Opposition pressured the NDP Government on many issues. We fought to get Albertans a better deal on AISH funding and classroom sizes. We battled against EMS-ER wait times and conversion therapy. We pushed for oil patch cleanup bonds to limit taxpayer liability.

“Competition is necessary for a strong democracy. When you muzzle democratic voices you are ignoring voters. The NDP and UCP will soon have to face those voters in the upcoming provincial Election. Alberta voters will not stand for this brutal attack on democracy.”

Swann stated, “Two-party politics increases partisanship and personal attacks. Albertans are sick of this type of politics. Alberta Liberals have positive solutions to make life better for all Albertans. We will not be muzzled.”

Khan added, “Albertans deserve a strong multi-party democracy. The “first-past-the-post” electoral system is broken. Alberta Liberals are the only party campaigning for electoral reform in this next election. Clearly, it is needed.

“The NDP and UCP are trying to hijack the upcoming election. Alberta Liberals will not let them trample democracy. Alberta voters will punish this abuse of power.”


Alberta Liberals applaud Redwater Supreme Court decision and renew call for Cleanup Bonds

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann issue the following release on the Redwater Supreme Court decision.

Khan stated, “We believe in the polluter pay principle. We also believe Alberta taxpayers must be protected from massive liabilities. This historic Supreme Court ruling goes a long way to strengthening safeguards for our environment and Alberta taxpayers. Bankruptcy can no longer shield irresponsible energy companies.

“Alberta Liberals believe more must be done to address the province’s estimated $260 billion in cleanup liabilities. We have to adopt proactive measures against worst case scenarios.

“We are renewing our call that Alberta energy companies be mandated to purchase reclamation and cleanup bonds as insurance against financial catastrophe.”

An Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) senior official offered up the estimated $260 billion cost of cleanup.The NDP government admits that a mere $1.6 billion has been collected from industry. It’s about 0.6% of the total bill. That just won’t do.

Swann stated, “The court decision is good news. But it is not a complete solution to one of the biggest environmental and financial issues facing Albertans. We must not pass this massive burden on to future generations. Cleanup bonds are about taking responsibility today. The Alberta Liberal proposal brings us in line with other jurisdictions where bonds are an effective measure.

“We also believe greater transparency is needed. Albertans deserve independent verification of liabilities and regular public disclosure of progress.”

Khan added, “It’s time to take Alberta taxpayers off the hook. It’s time industry steps up to shoulder more of the financial responsibility. Alberta Liberals believe it’s the right thing to do.”


Alberta Liberals ask Premier Notley to deliver our call for reinstated extended Federal EI benefits to Prime Minister Trudeau at the First Ministers’ Meeting this week

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann are asking Premier Rachel Notley to join with them and call for the Prime Minister to reinstate extended federal EI benefits at the First Ministers’ Meeting.

Khan stated, “The Prime Minister must do more than just talk about the oil price differential crisis. He must understand its impact on Alberta jobs. We want him to reinstate extended federal EI benefits. We want Premier Notley to strongly deliver our message this week. Albertans do not want more words. Albertans want action.

Khan stated, “We know Albertans want to work. But if they can’t get a job, they need help. The oil price differential and new mandated production cuts could lead to more layoffs. Calgary’s unemployment rate is already a staggering 8.4%. We must do all we can to help them through this troubling time.

“Bank of Montreal’s economists forecast the oil production cuts will have a harsh effect on Alberta’s economy. They estimate Alberta’s 2019 GDP annualized growth may be cut in half from 2.4% to 1.2%. TD Bank’s economists echo those forecasts, predicting Alberta’s GDP growth could fall to as low as 1.1% from 2.3% next year. Those are serious hits to Alberta’s economy. They will hurt Albertans.

“In 2016, the Federal Government provided enhanced employment insurance benefits to unemployed Albertans. It extended EI benefits for unemployed workers for an additional five to 20 weeks, decreased wait times by 50%, and reduced eligibility requirements from 910 hours of insured employment to as little as 420 hours. It’s time for them to do so again. We’re asking the NDP Government to join with us in demanding this action. Prime Minister Trudeau must move faster than he did 3 years ago.”

Swann stated, “The Federal Government must do much more to relieve the economic pain being endured by Albertans. They have been struggling in the wake of this price differential crisis. It is my hope Premier Notley will join us in demanding this necessary measure when she meets with the Prime Minister this week.”

Alberta Liberals support the Government’s temporary oil production cuts as an emergency intervention to bolster prices. But, we also have concerns about execution and unintended consequences. There could be negative impacts on jobs.

The Prime Minister and the Federal government must step up with action, not more rhetoric.  Albertans need help now.

David Khan and David Swann are available for interviews.


Alberta Liberals host expert panel forum on Drug Decriminalization – Help Not Handcuffs

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Liberal MLA Dr David Swann will host an expert panel to discuss Drug Decriminalization – Help Not Handcuffs..

Two Albertans are dying every day from drug overdoses. Alberta Liberals have constructive suggestions to better manage the Opioid Crisis. We urge the NDP Government to work with the Federal Government to Decriminalize Drugs. ,

Khan stated, “It is time we treat addicts as people with a horrible disease. They are sick. They are not criminals. Decriminalization of drugs is an essential part of reducing stigma and improving their chances of healing.”

Dr Swann stated, “We must remove the stigma of drug use and provide hope. We must also address the financial impact of this crisis. Canada spent $550M in 2017 on recurrent hospital visits, policing, court proceedings, and incarceration. Decriminalization will lead those with addictions and devastating mental illness to help and recovery – not thrown into jail.”

The issue will be fully discussed by panelists on all sides of this issue  including medical clinicians, harm reduction advocates, a former drug user turned health advocate and those who lost loved ones to opioids.
.
WHERE: O’Brien Institute for Public Health
HSC Room G500 – 3330 Hospital Dr NW.

WHEN: 7:00 pm Wednesday Nov 14
MEDIA AVAILABILITY: 6:30 pm


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.