Statement by David Swann: Happy Easter and Passover

CALGARY, AB (April 3, 2015): Dr. David Swann has released the following statement to mark the Easter and Passover long weekend:

“On behalf of Alberta Liberals I would like to wish all those observing Easter or Passover a blessed celebration during this holy time.

“And, may all Albertans have a safe and joyous long weekend together with friends and family.

“Happy Easter and Passover!”

Fair Tax Plan delivers tax cuts to the majority of Albertans

CALGARY, AB (April 2, 2015): Dr. David Swann is announcing the Alberta Liberal Fair Tax Plan aimed at fixing the broken revenue structure in Alberta.

“Moving the province off the resource revenue rollercoaster requires better options than what the premier is offering,” says Swann. “The Fair Tax Plan will deliver real tax breaks to lower and middle income families, small businesses, and ensure all Albertans pay their fair share.”

The Plan proposes several practical measures to ensure better fiscal management and a quicker return to balanced budgets:

  • Progressive personal income tax system
  • Corporate tax adjustment (small business tax elimination)
  • Enhanced tax collection
  • Reinvest Carbon Capture and Storage funds
  • Better health care management

Under the Alberta Liberal Fair Tax Plan, the government will generate an estimated $3.1 billion in revenue and savings. The remaining $3.9 billion revenue shortfall will be offset by a one-time transfer of funds from the Contingency Account.

The Plan will also reverse several of the new and increased fees announced by the Prentice Conservatives, cancel the new Health Care Contribution Levy, and rollback the 7% increase in education property taxes.

Albertans with taxable incomes below $50,000 will see a 0.5% reduction in their income tax rate. The proposed Alberta Liberal personal income tax rates are as follows:

  • 9.5% on the first $50,000 of taxable income, +
  • 10% on the next $50,000, +
  • 10.5% on the next 50,000, +
  • 12.5% on the next $100,000, +
  • 15% on the amount over $250,000

According to Statistics Canada*, this income tax structure will generate approximately $11.3 billion in total revenue.

Alberta Liberals will also eliminate the taxes paid by small businesses earning under $500,000 and increase government revenue through a 2% adjustment in the amount of tax paid by large corporations.

We will return the responsibility for corporate tax collection to the Canada Revenue Agency in order to address concerns raised by the Auditor General. This will ensure Albertans receive the total amount of revenues owed, and align us with all other Canadian provinces and territories with the exception of Quebec.

“Jim Prentice wants regular Albertans to pay for his government’s mistakes,” says Swann. “But, we believe in sharing the burden fairly and putting money back in the hands of those who need it the most.”

*This analysis is based on Statistics Canada’s Social Policy Simulation Database and Model. The assumptions and calculations underlying the simulation results were specified by the Alberta Liberal Opposition and the responsibility for the use and interpretation of these data is entirely that of the author.’

Dr. David Swann releases new data on the high cost of government ideology

CALGARY, AB (April 1, 2015): New health data reveals alternate level of care bed days in Alberta’s hospitals is surging due to the government’s ideologically-driven privatized seniors’ care policies.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” says Swann. “Clearly, there is no medical or financial incentive to continue down this path. So, the motivation must be either ideological or political.”

Alberta Health Services (AHS) documents obtained through an Alberta Liberal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) request show that alternative level of care (ALC) bed days have risen dramatically in just under three years.

From April 2012, to December 2014, hospitals have seen a 110 per cent overall increase in bed days (18,955 to 39,742). The total number of ALC patients has increased by 40 per cent (293 to 409), and the average length of stay has gone up by 50 per cent (65 days to 97 days).

Given AHS cost-per-bed figures, the government has spent $603.6 million on ALC bed days over this period. By comparison, investing in the same number of long term care spaces would have only cost the province $132 million, and saved taxpayers a whopping $471.5 million.

“For years, the acute system has been plagued by bottlenecks, which have led to repeated access to care crises in this province,” says Swann. “The PCs’ only solution has been to double-down on the same policies that caused the problem in the first place.”

According to their website, the Alberta government has invested more than $600 million in Supportive Living Initiatives (ASLI) grants, which sees large sums of public cash transferred primarily to private companies to cover up to 50 per cent of the capital costs for new seniors’ housing developments.

The government insists these grants “improve access to health care for Albertans,” but AHS performance benchmarks and ALC bed usage data have conclusively disproven this claim. In fact, according to AHS annual reports, the number of Continuing Care beds has increased by only 5% from April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2014 (from 21,683 to 22,867). 

“First, the PCs spent millions on private housing companies who are unable to meet the basic standards of care seniors require,” says Swann. “Most people end up right back in the hospital system at the first sign of illness, and the cycle of suffering and waste continues.”

Alberta Liberals support hiring more front line staff in order to open up all closed beds in the acute care system, increasing funding for publicly funded and delivered home care and long term care, and improving access to basic primary care, injury and disease prevention, and wellness teams for all Albertans.