Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann demanding answers on NDP secret relationship with the Big Tobacco Lobby

Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann is asking tough questions on the NDP Government’s closed door relationship with the Big Tobacco Lobby.

Dr. Swann stated, “I’m concerned the NDP Government is welcoming tobacco lobbyists to back door meetings despite Alberta’s commitment to stop these secret discussions.”

‘’It’s time the NDP Government comes clean and tells Albertans.”

Dr. Swann is demanding to know if the NDP Government is honouring its commitment to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC forbids meetings behind closed doors with tobacco lobbyists. Canada and its regional governments including Alberta are FCTC signatories.

“The NDP Government also continues to delay implementation of the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act.  It would only take a single cabinet meeting to implement this important piece of legislation. What is the NDP waiting for?”

“Albertans deserve to know if the delay in implementing the legislation is related to these lobbying efforts.”

“This raises questions about the NDP commitment to transparency on this issue.”

“Reducing tobacco use lowers both death rates and health care costs for all Albertans.”

Alberta Liberals are demanding the NDP Government start taking the health of all Albertans more seriously.


Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann calls for more transparency on licensed physician misconduct

Alberta Liberals are calling for a more transparent and open system of informing Albertans about licensed physician misconduct:

Swann stated, “Albertans deserve safe and trustworthy health care from their doctors.”

“I am pleased that the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta is examining the issue of public disclosure of malpractice or poor practice. A more transparent and open public posting process of physician misconduct must be established to allow their patients and all Albertans to assess quality of care.”

Criminal convictions are not currently displayed on Alberta Profiles of physicians.

Several Alberta licensed physicians faced disciplinary action in other jurisdictions, but their misconduct record wasn’t publicly posted by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. This must be reviewed.

Records for disciplinary actions against physicians that occurred in Alberta, no matter how severe, are scrubbed after 5 years but are kept public indefinitely in Ontario and New Brunswick.

Swann stated, “We should carefully examine the Ontario model and other examples of best practice in public disclosure while protecting legitimate privacy rights of practitioners.”

Doctors from other jurisdictions are required to voluntarily report any issues when applying for an Alberta License from another jurisdictions but the Alberta College does not verify these and a national database of convictions and significant disciplinary actions should also be developed.

“Albertans, and excellent physicians, deserve transparency to build trust and improve safety in our healthcare professionals.”


Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann demands NDP Government end hallway waits for EMS

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann demands the NDP Government solve the EMS Crisis.

“More money for ambulances and paramedics will not reduce the wasted transfer time from paramedic to nurse in the ER”, he said.

Alberta paramedics are spending 650, 000 wasted hours per year waiting for patient transfers at emergency rooms with a median wait time of 53 minutes and 42 seconds. This takes ambulances out of commission and costs Albertans $20 million a year.

Swann stated, “In Great Britain any delay of more than 15 minutes is deemed a potential threat to life. When it hits 30 minutes it’s considered a crisis. So why is this NDP Government content to let Alberta patients wait for 1 hour?

“The funding increase from this Government is not enough. More money is not a strategy. AHS must shorten emergency room transfer times. The UK and Israel have done it. What is Alberta waiting for?”

 

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


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


Liberal request for investigation into Pure North grants hits pay dirt

An Auditor General investigation requested by Liberal MLA David Swann found Alberta Health inappropriately awarded grants to Pure North.

“This confirms what we suspected,” says Swann, “I completely support what the Auditor has found, and I look forward to hearing how the Minister plans to clean up this mess.”

In a letter to the Auditor General last May, Swann formally requested an audit of the granting process and the effectiveness of the vitamin supplement program, citing concerns for public funds and potential public health risks to vulnerable populations.

The investigation found the grant lacked appropriate performance measures and reporting requirements, and concluded that departmental processes were not followed in awarding the grants to Pure North.

“How can Albertans have confidence that the government has their back when they turn a blind eye to such serious concerns as those raised by their own department, the medical community, and the public?” Swann asks.

Former Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jim Talbot warned against government involvement in the experimental program, but his concerns were ignored. Instead, the government wasted over 11 million dollars in taxpayer funds with almost no accountability whatsoever.

“This is scandalous!” says Swann. “Clearly, the money could have been better invested in areas that would actually improve our broken system. What does the minister have to show for this?”

Despite Pure North’s claims that its programs would save money and lower demands on the system, performance measures have not improved under the NDP. In many cases, wait times for ambulances, emergency visits, continuing care placement, and elective surgeries have increased.

“Albertans expected better public health care from the NDP, but all we’ve seen is a series of inappropriate decisions, more waste, and poorer outcomes,” says Swann. “Alberta Liberals have the right prescription for better healthcare for Albertans.”


David Swann response to the Q3 Opioid Report

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in response to the Q3 Opioid and Substances of Misuse Report:

“With each passing quarterly report, it becomes painfully obvious that the NDP government does not have a handle on the opioid crisis. A nine per cent increase in fentanyl overdose deaths from last quarter is unacceptable, and a forty per cent yearly increase is nothing short of a disaster.

“Despite these troubling facts, the NDP fails to treat this with the urgency and importance it deserves, choosing, instead, to rely on a piecemeal, reactive response to this crisis.

“It has rejected my call for the reinstatement of a Chief Addictions and Mental Health Officer to manage this crisis and guide actions on the frontlines in favour of an advisory commission.

“It refuses to declare a state of emergency, which may not give any additional legal powers, but would be of immense symbolic value. Affected families and organizations – as well as all opposition caucuses – have advocated for this declaration, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

“As Alberta approaches two overdose deaths per day, every report, and awareness event organized by groups such as Moms Stop the Harm and Changing the Face of Addiction remind us of the tragic impact of these preventable deaths and the trail of sorrow that follows in their wake.

“People are dying. I cannot emphasize enough that the decisions government makes are literally a matter of life and death. We need better leadership, more coordinated and comprehensive action, and we need it now!”


More action needed to drive down Alberta’s high-cost dental care

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says more action is needed to drive down unacceptably high-cost dental care.

“We need a strong mandate for change in order to drive down unacceptably high-cost dental care in Alberta,” says Swann. “Instead, the NDP seems content just to tweak the status quo.

“They made an easy decision, rather than showing the real leadership Albertans need from their government today.”

Swann’s comments come in reaction to a government announcement unveiling revisions to the new fee guide that the Alberta Dental Association and College (ADAC) released to the public without ministerial input in August.

“Having a fee guide that more accurately reflects average prices and client expectations is good, but does little to resolve the problem of high, unregulated dental costs, including outrageous hygienist fees,” says Swann. “It will take a year or more to see if the guide will have any effect. Meanwhile, Albertans will still pay through the nose, since dentists can ultimately charge whatever they want.”

Swann points out there are many obstacles to overcome even with a new fee guide in place.

“Making an informed consumer decision is harder than both the ADAC and the government would have you believe,” says Swann. “Dentists should be required to discuss prices up front and publicly list their standard prices in comparison to the Fee Guide.

“If the government is serious about making dental health care affordable for the majority of Albertans, it needs to apply more pressure to lower costs, encourage open competition and ensure greater accountability for these high fees.”

Swann has been a vocal advocate for reducing dental fees in Alberta. He recently wrote to the Minister of Health to encourage her to take a stronger stand and press the ADAC to liberalize dental advertising rules, as well as consider separating the ADAC into separate entities.

Given the extreme demands on public dental services there is also clearly a need to increase public funding for services to children and low-income Albertans.

Swann’s letter and the Minister’s reply are available for viewing here on the Liberal Opposition website.


NDP must step up for public fertility services

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann has released the following statement on the cutting of services at the Edmonton Regional Fertility and Women’s Endocrine Clinic at the Royal Alexandra Hospital:

“Yesterday, I was immediately concerned when we were contacted by email with concerns about potential service cuts at the Edmonton Regional Fertility and Women’s Endocrine Clinic at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. Later that evening, a document surfaced on Twitter appearing to confirm this rumour.

“Today, I join with affected patients and the Friends of Medicare in expressing my disappointment with this decision. And, while I appreciate this maintains support for existing public programs, I am calling on Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman to step up for public health care and bolster public fertility services.

“According to the federal government, roughly 16 per cent, or 1 in 6, of couples in Canada experience infertility. This number has doubled since the 1980s. In Alberta, the cost associated with fertility treatments are completely borne by patients.

“That is why, prior to the 2015 provincial election, Alberta Liberals identified infertility funding as a major policy priority and recognized that funding of fertility treatments such as Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was necessary to ensure families who require treatment have reasonable and fair access to treatment.

“The NDP must do more to help Albertans facing infertility in the public health care system, instead of offloading them onto the private sector.”


Statement on announcement of approval of safe injection sites in Calgary

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in reaction to the government’s announcement on supervised injection sites in Calgary today:

“Calgary is the city that has been hardest-hit by Alberta’s opioid crisis. As such, harm reduction measures like safe consumption sites is welcome news. And, certainly, the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre is an excellent choice for this important work.

“Finally, we are seeing this critical service that is long overdue. These sites will undoubtedly improve safety and save lives.”

“However, one is not enough, we need more of these harm reduction and treatment measures in Calgary and throughout the province, especially in smaller urban centres.

“We also need more culturally appropriate services since Indigenous peoples are a significantly impacted community.

“When nearly two lives are lost each day to this scourge, there is a clear need to move more quickly and effectively.

“We need to increase and integrate more resources if we hope to get ahead of this crisis.”