Statement on International Overdose Awareness Day, 2017

“Today I join far too many Albertans in mourning those whose lives were cut short by drug overdoses, specifically fentanyl.

“With the skyrocketing pace of overdose deaths due to the ongoing opioid crisis, it is easy to get caught up in the numbers and lose track of the real cost in life and suffering.

“People struggling with addictions are not just junkies – each one is someone’s sibling, someone’s friend, someone’s child. Every death plunges a community into grief.

“On this day we remember those who have died of drug overdose not as statistics, not as addicts, but as fellow humans. We must work in their memory to break the stigma surrounding this disease, and make sure that those struggling with addiction in the future have the help they need.

“Of course, the single greatest way to raise overdose awareness would be for the NDP government to declare a state of emergency in response to the opioid crisis – something it has refused to do despite repeated calls from the opposition and stakeholders such as Moms Stop the Harm and Changing the Face of Addiction.

“Declaring a state of emergency would send a signal to every Albertan about the seriousness of the issue itself and the government’s commitment to putting all resources at its disposal to stop the needless deaths of so many of our friends and family.”

Statement on Black Ribbon Day

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in recognition of Black Ribbon Day:

“On this day, we remember the victims and survivors of the totalitarian regimes of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

“Even decades later, the brutal, painful legacy of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact still lingers. On this day in 1939, two of history’s worst regimes agreed to cooperate to lay waste to the continent, setting into motion countless heinous atrocities in Europe and around the world.

“Today, in memory of the many lives lost to this period of incredible cruelty and heartless indifference, we reaffirm our commitment to the ideals of democracy, tolerance, and respect for human rights. We further pledge to stay vigilant against the forces of hatred, bigotry and xenophobia, standing up to them wherever and whenever they surface.”

David Swann Statement on Farm Workers Day

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement to mark Alberta’s 13th annual Farm Workers Day:

“I am pleased to spend another Farm Workers Day celebrating their vital work every day of the year that puts food on our tables. For too many years, I spent this day mourning those killed or injured on the job, and calling for the government to guarantee their basic rights to a healthy and safe workplace, and a guarantee of compensation for injury.

“Now this day recognizes the fundamental rights and protections now offered to farm workers under the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act. There is still much work to do in realizing health and safety in agricultural operations and ensuring paid farm workers are fairly treated, but the Act marks a significant step forward.

“I am therefore deeply disappointed that some politicians in Alberta are treating these rights as a political football, and threatening to repeal them. Alberta cannot afford to return to the last century of shame that they promise.”

Statement on the World Day Against Child Labour, 2017

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann has released the following statement in recognition of the World Day Against Child Labour:

“The World Day Against Child Labour is an important time for all of us to recognize that unfair and unjust employment practices continue to harm children around the world.

“Childhood is an important time for mental, physical, spiritual and social development, which should not be sacrificed for professional development – to put it mildly.

“We need to protect children by ensuring laws are in place such as minimum age requirements and restrictions on children conducting certain types of economic activities.

“While I applaud the government for taking some of these important steps in Bill 17, the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, I am disappointed by the NDP’s repeated refusal to extend employment standards for overtime and rest periods to paid farm and ranch workers, many of whom are youth.

“Platitudes make for fine speeches, but strong, preventative government action can actually protect people from unfair labour practices. That is why I am repeating my call to remove exemptions for paid farm and ranch workers for overtime and minimum rest periods.

“Let’s mark World Day Against Child Labour this year by renewing our commitment to labour fairness right here in Alberta.”

Government should legislate timing of the release of post-disaster reports

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says that the government should legislate the timing of the release of post-disaster reports.

“Natural disasters are an unfortunately predictable occurrence in Alberta and reporting on them should be just as predictable,” says Swann. “Last night’s hastily arranged and awkward release of two independent reports on the Fort McMurray wildfire is something that should never be repeated.”

The comments come after it was revealed that the NDP government had not released a damning report into the Fort McMurray wildfire, which it received months earlier, until it was forced to do so as a result of the information being leaked to media.

Swann is calling on the NDP to amend the Municipal Government Act to require the public release of any such disaster event reports within a specified time period.

“The government amended the Municipal Government Act three times in as many years, yet chose not to make this a requirement,” says Swann. “There should be a specific amount of time, perhaps one year, in which all post-disaster reports must be released to the public.

“Leaving the release of disaster event reports up to those may be most embarrassed by its contents undermines the process and politicizes a matter of critical public importance.”

Statement on 30th anniversary of Seniors’ Week in Alberta

David Swann has released the following statement to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Seniors’ Week in Alberta:

“What began 30 years ago as a local event, has now become a province-wide week of celebration of seniors.

“This is a week to recognize the valuable contribution of seniors in our society and to reaffirm our commitment to improving the lives of every senior citizen in Alberta.

“As a senior myself, I can think of no better way to honour our contribution than to provide humane and comprehensive seniors’ care in this province. We must stop warehousing our seniors in acute care facilities. We need to invest more in home care and community care that treats our seniors with the dignity they deserve.

“We would also be wise to follow the traditions of our First Nations peoples by ensuring elders are included in more community activities, shown respect and valued for their experience, wisdom and guidance.

“Seniors have given much to build this province, but there is still much more we have yet to contribute. Let’s all commit ourselves to combating ageism and ensuring seniors remain active participants in our society.

“On behalf of the Alberta Liberal Opposition, I wish you a safe, healthy and happy Seniors’ Week!”

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann statement on the BC Provincial Election

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann issued the following statement on the results of the British Columbia provincial election:

“While many votes remain to be counted and many decisions remain to be made, I want to extend my congratulations to Premier Christy Clark for her victory last night. This has been an exciting election and I, like many Albertans, will be watching closely in the weeks ahead.

“As close neighbours and partners in Confederation, our two provinces have many shared interests – as well as points of difference. I encourage the incoming Premier to work with our government to resolve these differences to our mutual benefit, and look forward to our shared prosperity in the coming years.”

Statement: One-year anniversary of the Fort McMurray wildfire

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement on the one-year anniversary of the Fort McMurray wildfire:

“On this day in 2016, Albertans watched in horror as Fort McMurray was engulfed by a wildfire of apocalyptic proportions. With staggering speed, a small wildfire on the banks of Horse River quickly evolved into the ‘Beast,’ which pounced on the city shortly thereafter.

“Yet through a haze of smoke and flame, Albertans witnessed a miracle. Along a single highway, the flames beating at their backs, almost 90,000 people escaped the city. The incredible heroism of our first responders saved Fort McMurray’s vital infrastructure and thousands of lives.

“One year later, the difficult task of rebuilding continues. We must remember, however, that we need to rebuild more than homes and infrastructure – we must also work to rebuild the mental health and well-being of the residents of Fort McMurray.

“The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can surface suddenly or emerge long after the trauma has occurred. Today, many continue to struggle with the aftereffects of the fire.

“Albertans are strong, but the strong also suffer. It is not weakness to struggle with mental health; rather, it takes great courage to ask for help managing that struggle.

“I want to remind those who are still suffering from the devastating effects of the wildfire in Fort McMurray that they are not alone. I stand with you together with all your fellow Albertans.”

Dr. David Swann statement on Mental Health Week

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement to mark Mental Health Week.

“The theme for this year’s Mental Health Week is ‘Sick of Waiting: Get Loud for Mental Health.’ Across the country, Canadians are calling for earlier intervention for those in distress, and action on the long waits for mental health care.

“Mental health is a critical part of our overall health, and must be properly planned and funded in our health system. At present there are still too many barriers to treatment, and too many people are unable to afford critical counselling and psychological help.

“This is also a deep concern when discussing our management of the ongoing opiate overdose crisis, which is now claiming two lives every day and cries out for focused leadership and a coordinated plan. It is unacceptable that we have few, if any, after-hours treatment facilities, leaving few alternatives to those trying to get help after hours.

“At the end of the day, however, the stigma surrounding mental health issues remains the greatest barrier to treatment. We are all responsible for making it easier for people to reach out for help, and avoid unhealthy options like drug abuse to address the pain.

Each of us can play a critical role as we reach out to offer support and speak out for better mental health services, so those who are suffering know they are not alone and that help is available.

David Swann statement on National Day of Mourning

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement on the National Day of Mourning:

“Today we take the time to remember and to mourn those who have suffered injury or death while on the job.

“I am deeply saddened that this past year has seen an increase in workplace injuries over the previous. This trend simply cannot continue, especially given that many of these incidences are preventable.

“This is the second National Day of Mourning since WCB coverage was extended to farm workers and Occupational Health and Safety inspections were permitted on farms, and the first year that paid farm worker deaths were included in WCB statistics.

“While these basic legal protections were long overdue, they are no substitute for safe worksites that allow workers to do their jobs without fear of harm.

“It is my sincere hope that, by remembering the loss of these loved ones, we strengthen our commitment to building a safe work environment.

“I urge all employers and workers alike to strive to create a culture of safety. Our first priority should be ensuring the well-being of every Alberta worker, so that, at the end of the workday, they return home safe and healthy.”