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.


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!”


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.”


Statement from Dr. David Swann on supervised consumption site approvals

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in reaction to the approval of supervised consumption sites in Edmonton and Lethbridge:

“These approvals are welcome news. I have long called for harm-reduction measures to be implemented in this province as a key component of a coordinated plan to manage the steadily worsening opioid crisis.

“However, the continued delays are deeply disappointing. I find myself asking: if federal approval was the only hold-up for a supervised consumption site, why the months-long gap between the site being approved and opening its doors?

“The lack of sites for Calgary, where opioid overdoses continue to claim the most lives, is troubling. As I’ve said before, access to harm reduction measures must be further expanded. While I’m glad to see a site opening in Lethbridge, other smaller urban centres and rural areas, where wait times are still too long and mental health care much less available, are badly in need of these facilities.”


Opioid Programs Need Further Expansion, Less Politics

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement on the expansion of Alberta’s opioid dependency treatment programs:

“$4.6 million in additional resources to combat the opioid crisis is undoubtedly welcome news. I am pleased to see that Edmonton and Calgary centres will receive more support, enabling them to reduce wait times for in-patient and outpatient treatment as part of the larger solution.

“However, access to harm reduction measures needs to be further expanded, particularly in smaller urban centres and rural areas where wait times are still too long and mental health care much less available.

“As I have said many times following each of these one-off announcements, this is an emergency situation requiring an evidence-based, co-ordinated and comprehensive public strategy – not a reactive, piecemeal approach.

“The government is failing to make significant headway in reducing the overall number of overdoses, which continues to rise each quarter. Combined with delays in supervised consumption sites, Alberta is clearly not drawing on all needed resources and treating this matter with the urgency and importance it deserves.

“Opioid addiction and abuse is quite literally a matter of life and death, yet the government habitually releases reports and makes announcements on the opioid crisis with barely any notice, and at times when they will receive the least amount of public attention.

“For example, conducting these activities just prior to a holiday weekend sends the wrong message to Albertan and belies the severity, urgency, and importance of the opioid crisis.

“As one of the most important issues facing Alberta and Canada today, we need to be very conscious and cautious about even the appearance of playing politics with people’s lives.

“Whether it comes to addressing concerns over the location of treatment clinics, federal approval for supervised consumption sites, or involving all stakeholders in developing and implementing solutions, we must remember that we are all on the same team. The goal is to save lives, not score political points.”