Minimum Wage Proposal Lacks Balance

CALGARY, AB (June 29, 2015): Dr. David Swann says the government’s proposal for increasing the minimum wage lacks balance and says the increases should be accompanied by small business tax reductions.

“Trusted leadership is about balance,” says Swann. “We have generally supported minimum wage increases. However, the government seems determined to raise the minimum wage on an artificial timeline without considering the impact it will have on small businesses in these hard economic times.”

Alberta Liberals have called for an economic impact study that specifically looks into the effect rapidly raising the minimum wage will have on small businesses.

“There is still time for that assessment,” says Swann. “The government, to its real credit, is taking the time to study our infrastructure plan, our climate change plan, democratic renewal and several other pressing concerns. Yet, on this file, they seem to have no interest in looking at available data or consulting with stakeholders.”

Swann is proposing that the government lower small business taxes in Alberta in order to soften the blow of this rapid increase in payroll costs. The New Democrats recently rejected a motion to lower the small business tax rate to two per cent – despite that motion having the support of all opposition parties.

“It would be a very positive way of shielding businesses from the impact of increasing their costs during this economic downturn.

“Small businesses are the key to diversifying our economy. I hope the government will do the right thing and support them.

Time to Protect Alberta’s Children

EDMONTON, AB (June 24, 2015): Dr. David Swann called on the government to take action to improve Alberta’s vaccination rates.

“Action is required to protect Albertans, particularly Alberta’s children,” Swann said in Question Period today.

In the last legislature, Alberta Liberals took the PC government to task for their failure to improve vaccination rates in Alberta.

“This is going to be a major issue facing the government in the next several years,” says Swann. “We’re calling for a system that simply requires parents or guardians who choose not to vaccinate their children to be informed of the risks of not doing so and to sign a waiver recognizing and accepting those risks.

“Knowing the risks will improve vaccination rates.”

While the Minister was non-committal in question period today, Swann remains hopeful the government will take action soon.

“Another school year will soon be upon us and we need to get our vaccination rates up. I’m optimistic the government will look at our proposal and do the right thing.”

Swann to Support Amendment to Help Small Businesses

EDMONTON, AB (June 24, 2015): Dr. David Swann announced today he will support an amendment to Bill 2 that will lower Alberta’s small business tax rate from three to two per cent.

“In the last election Alberta Liberals campaigned on a promise to help small businesses in these tough economic times,” say Swann. “The amendment that will be proposed by the Official Opposition does that, and I will support it when it comes up for a vote tonight.

“Too much of the debate surrounding Bill 2 thus far has been rooted in ideology, with both sides claiming the others beliefs will bring ruin to the province. With this amendment we have an opportunity to do some good for small businesses that are struggling.

“Small businesses are the key to diversifying our economy and we need to ensure that they can manage through the current economy and continue to grow. Lowering the small business tax rate would help with that.

“At the beginning of this session the new government made a powerful statement by reaching across the aisle and seeking to cooperate with other parties. I call on them to do so again today by accepting this amendment.”

Statement by David Swann: National Aboriginal Day

CALGARY, AB (June 21, 2015): Dr. David Swann released the following statement marking National Aboriginal Day:

“Today is an opportunity to remember the role that First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people have played in making our country such a remarkable place to live. To be sure, that history contains innumerable stories of broken barriers and different peoples building communities together in friendship and cooperation. 

“However, there is no forgetting and no question that too much of that shared history is a shameful chronicle of abuses, mistreatment, and cultural genocide. 

“This year in particular it is my sincere hope that, in the aftermath of the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we will begin to turn a corner in that shared history towards healing and a new beginning. 

“The work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has come to an end. The work of the rest of us in implementing their recommendations, and creating a new relationship with our aboriginal populations, must now begin.

“Only together can we heal past wounds and achieve a healthy future.”

Swann Calls for Independent Appointment Commission

EDMONTON, AB (June 18, 2015): Dr. David Swann called the government today to set up an independent public appointments commission to review candidates for senior roles in the Alberta public service.

“There is a clear need for an independent body to review major appointments to ensure the individuals selected are qualified, ethical, and the best candidates for the job,” says Swann.

Today in Question Period, Swann called on the government to adopt a commission system modeled after Ontario’s Public Service Secretariat. Adopting such a model has been supported in the past by Government House Leader Brian Mason and is supported at the federal level by NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair.

“Alberta Liberals are bringing forward this common sense policy suggestion to improve accountability in public appointments,” says Swann. “This would be a positive step for Alberta and we hope the government will adopt it.”

Swann’s comments come as CBC has revealed that former Ethics Commissioner Neil Wilkinson claimed $450,000 in honoraria during his time as board chair of Capital Health. The claims included 14 hours claimed under only “MLA”.

“That Mr. Wilkinson was appointed Ethics Commissioner following this kind of activity damages the confidence of all Albertans in how our senior public servants are chosen.

“It is time we created an independent and public process to oversee how these individuals are selected.”

Statement by David Swann: Two Years On, Action Still Needed on Flood Mitigation

EDMONTON, AB (June 18, 2015): Today in the house, Dr. David Swann made the following statement:

“On June 20, river communities in Calgary will be gathering to celebrate the spirit that brought so many people together during the 2013 flood.

“Stories will be shared about recovery, resiliency, and the power of community.

“But two years on, while some local measures have been taken by the City to reduce the risk along the Bow and Elbow rivers, much remains to be done to reduce the risk from the next, inevitable, flood.

“Two years and many consultations and reports later, Calgary has yet to see a comprehensive upstream mitigation strategy in place for the Bow and Elbow Rivers.

“Excellent work has been done by groups including WaterSmart Solutions; most recently Room for the River process which provide cost-benefit scenarios. It is time to make decisions.

“In fact all Albertans living in the South Saskatchewan River Basin deserve to see evidence-based watershed management beginning in the eastern slopes from the Provincial Government.

“Part of the solution is the long-awaited land-use plan which defines priority development and conservation activities in relation to our major waterways. This needs new momentum, as well.

“And clearly for the Bow, a long-term water management agreement is needed between TransAlta and the province, which takes into account both flood and drought mitigation, and must be public.  No more backroom deals!

“Ironically drought this year appears to be more likely than flood in southern AB and is highlighting the need for all stakeholders including irrigation districts to be at the table.

“The financial and human cost of both flooding and droughts can be minimized through a range of evidence-based upstream natural and engineered developments and will be a defining task for this new government.

“On behalf of my constituents in Calgary and all Albertans, I call on this government to make this a priority.”

Swann Introduces Long-Time Advocates for Farm Safety in The House

EDMONTON, AB (June 18, 2015): Today in the house, Dr. David Swann introduced Eric Musekamp and Darlene Dunlop, prominent advocates for updating Alberta’s arcane Occupational Health and Safety regulations which currently do not protect paid farm workers.

The introduction comes on the 9th anniversary of the death of farmworker Kevan Chandler in a silage elevator who, without WCB coverage, left a widow and two children. Mr. Chandler’s widow then spent the next six years in court before, thanks to a compassionate lawyer, finally receiving a settlement.

Swann hopes that the introduction of Musekamp and Dunlop and the sharing of Kevan Chandler’s story will encourage the government to, at long last, bring Alberta out of the 19th century to join the rest of the country in providing OHS and WCB coverage to paid farm workers.

Statement by David Swann: Past Time to Protect Farm Workers

EDMONTON, AB (June 12, 2015): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement on the need to protect farm workers in Alberta:

“No worker should ever be put in an unsafe situation; every Albertan would agree with that. This is why we have enacted a comprehensive Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) framework to ensure that work places are safe and that young people aren’t expected to do work beyond their training or skill set.

“Sadly, many Albertans are unaware that the basic workplace safety rules that they operate under everyday are not extended to paid farm workers in this province. In this area, there is no limit to how young an individual can be employed, no regulation requiring safety training, and no workplace compensation in the event of an injury.

“What makes this situation even more incredible is that each year there are hundreds of serious injuries and between 18 to 24 deaths. Yet successive PC governments have decided that this single industry requires no regulation to ensure safe working conditions.

“In every other province in this country, paid farm workers are afforded the same basic protections as other workers – and yet somehow agriculture still seems to flourish in those jurisdictions.

“It’s time to bring our OHS and WCB regulations out of the nineteenth century and provide protection for paid farm workers, including child labour standards, in Alberta.”

Statment by David Swann: The Passing of Constable Woodall

EDMONTON, AB (June 9, 2015): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement on the death of Constable Daniel Woodall:

“Last night, the City of Edmonton and the people of Alberta lost a hero, the brave men and women of the Edmonton Police Service lost a comrade and friend, and a young family lost their dad and husband.

“Like all Albertans, I am heartbroken at the news of Constable Woodall’s death in the line of duty. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones at this most difficult time.

“To all the heroes who run towards danger and keep us safe, our deepest thanks, always.”

New Government Must Live up to Promise on Calgary Cancer Centre

CALGARY, AB (June 8, 2015): Dr. David Swann is calling on the NDP government to live up to its promise to build the Calgary Cancer Centre as originally planned, at the Foothills location.

“This project has been dangled over the heads of Calgarians for years now,” says Swann. “It is time to end the stalling and get to work on getting it built.”

Swann’s comments come as the Health Minister informed the media that the government has not made any decisions on the location for the long promised and much needed new Cancer Centre.

“The NDP was crystal clear when the previous government changed the proposed location for the centre, they felt it needed to get built and built as originally planned,” says Swann. “While it is appropriate to be consulting on costs and speaking with stakeholders on a major project, this centre has been studied and discussed for almost a decade. Meanwhile, Albertans are suffering and this needs to be a top priority.

“We have dealt with more than enough inconsistency from governments on this issue.”