Statement by David Swann: Government Must not Leave Farm Workers at Altar

EDMONTON, AB (November 30, 2015): Dr. David Swann released the following statements regarding the delay in debating Bill 6:

“Today’s actions by the NDP have put the much needed update to Alberta’s workplace safety regulations in serious doubt.

“Albertans are engaged in an active and lively debate regarding Bill 6. This debate has thus far been passionate but largely respectful, despite an abundance of misinformation regarding what is proposed in the legislation.

“This misinformation is due in large part to serious communication failures on the part of the NDP, a failure that has been expertly taken advantage of by Alberta’s two conservative parties.

“Albertans are prepared for this debate to continue, as the government takes part in scheduled consultation and begins the process of debating the legislation in the assembly – a process that was supposed to begin this evening.

“Strangely, shortly after today’s Question Period, the NDP suddenly canceled this evening’s sitting. This raises the disturbing possibility that government may decide to withdraw this badly needed legislation and continue the unacceptable status quo.

“Bill 6 is not a perfect bill. I support changes to this legislation, particularly when it comes to creating exemptions for family farms. However, these changes can and should be made on the floor of the house as legislators debate the bill in the next two weeks.

“Paid farm workers in this province have waited long enough for the right to refuse unsafe work, they have waited long enough to for any injuries that they may suffer on the job to be investigated, and they have waited long enough for a fair means of compensation when through WCB.

“This government gave its word to paid farm workers, we expect them to honour that.”

Revolving Door at AHS Leadership Leaves Public’s Heads Spinning

CALGARY, AB (November 27, 2015): Dr. David Swann says that the latest resignation in Alberta Health Services’ senior leadership demonstrates that disorder at AHS continues and expressed concern that such disorder continues to affect patient care.

“We continue to see a revolving door of senior leadership and a great deal of confusion in roles in our health care system,” says Swann. “This is our seventh AHS CEO in six years. Our system desperately needs stability, and clarity on the roles and responsibilities between the ministry and AHS as our delivery operator. Staff and patients need this disorder and confusion to end.

In 2012, the Health Quality Council identified confusion between AHS and Alberta Health as a major problem that needs to be resolved, yet little progress has been made in outlining responsibilities.

Swann has also repeatedly called for the re-instatement of an arms-length AHS board to set the long term vision for AHS. The NDP recently announced a new board reporting to the Minister.

“Our best chance to improve operations at AHS during these repeated periods of transition in leadership is to give the board mandate and freedom to establish long term goals based on best evidence and best practices,” say Swann.

Statement by David Swann: The Passing of Manmeet Bhullar

EDMONTON, AB (November 24, 2015): Dr. David Swann released the following statement on the passing of Manmeet Bhullar, MLA for Calgary-Greenway:

“I was deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the death of my colleague Manmeet Bhullar. “I knew Manmeet from the first day he entered the legislature, and always found him to be a passionate, hard-working and devoted servant of his community.

“There can be no doubt the legislature has lost one of our most respected members, and our assembly will feel his absence every day. Although I did not always agree with Manmeet, I never doubted that he was always working for what he thought would make a better Alberta.

“To Manmeet’s family, our province extends its deepest thanks to you for so generously lending him to public life for so many years. Please know that the light of your lives also helped make our whole province brighter.”

Statement by David Swann: Enhanced Protection For Farm and Ranch Workers Act

EDMONTON, AB (November 17, 2015): Dr. David Swann released the following statement on the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act:

“Today is a great day for Alberta. After more than a decade of delays, questioning, petitions, rallies, and calls to action, paid farm workers will finally receive the basic workplace protections that the rest of us enjoy.

“I welcome the introduction of this desperately needed legislation and, of course, will enthusiastically support its passage. I welcome the badly needed changes that will come into effect on January 1, 2016 and I call on all stakeholders and interested parties to take part in the additional consultations that will follow. Together, we can create the best possible workplace protection regulations for farms.

“There will, no doubt, be opposition to this legislation. There will be excuses, ideological alarms, claims that this will forever alter our way of life or doom our industry, and cries that the government is doing too much, too fast.

“Make no mistake. Opposition to this bill is opposition to a farm worker being able to refuse unsafe work, it is opposition to any minimum wage whatsoever for farm workers, it is opposition to restrictions on child labour, it is opposition to requiring proper safety training before doing a new task, and it is opposition to the protections of WCB for farm workers and farm owners.

“The days of a legal framework that would make Charles Dickens blush will at long last come to an end in Alberta. It is a great day indeed.”

Statement by David Swann: New Measures a Good First Step in Tackling Child Poverty

CALGARY, AB (November 12, 2015): Dr. David Swann today welcomed the recently announced Alberta Child Benefit, calling it a good step towards ending child poverty.

“I congratulate the government on taking positive steps to help Alberta families who are most in need,” says Swann. “These initiatives reflect liberal values and our collective goal to end child poverty. I’m willing to give credit where it is due.”

Swann says the government’s actions also highlight the need to take other steps to address child poverty, in particular investing in early childhood development.

“Addressing child poverty is not a one-step process,” says Swann. “Research such as the Early Childhood Development Mapping Project, has shown that better investment in early childhood development is a key way to improve outcomes for children in Alberta.

“Now is the time to improve outcomes for the next generation of Albertans, regardless of income, background, or where they live in this great province.”

Statement by David Swann: Remembrance Day 2015

CALGARY, AB (November 10, 2015): Dr. David Swann released the following statement to mark Remembrance Day:

“At 11 AM tomorrow Canadians from across the country will pause for a moment of solemn remembrance for the brave men and women who have given their lives in service to our country.

“Remembrance for injured and killed members of the armed forces and their families – is a sacred trust that goes beyond simply wearing a blood-red poppy on our lapels. All of us must press governments to give our veterans the tangible supports, physical and mental, that they need and are owed.

“Of course it’s difficult for most of us to fully appreciate the sacrifice and suffering that our brave men and women in uniform have endured. But we have begun to better understand trauma as an injury of body, mind and spirit that must first be identified and then must be provided for with a thoughtful plan for healing. This is our duty to them.

“To the brave men and women who have given everything so that we might have so much, we give our deepest thanks.

“Lest we forget.”

Statement by David Swann: Government Fails to Improve Transparency and Accountability

CALGARY, AB (November 10, 2015): Dr. David Swann says Albertans are losing patience with the continued failure of the NDP to bring greater accountability and transparency to government.

“This is a government that continues to ignore constructive criticism and suggestions from the opposition that would improve accountability,” says Swann. “Whether it is lowering political donation limits, releasing an infrastructure priority list, or creating an independent commission to review public service appointments, this government has refused to act again and again.”

Swann’s comments follow the appointment of Bob Hawkesworth, a failed New Democratic Party candidate, as the Executive Director of the McDougall Centre, a non-partisan position.

“This is exactly why Alberta Liberals have repeatedly called for the creation of an independent public appointments commission to ensure individuals are appointed based on merit,” says Swann. “Meanwhile the government is making infrastructure decisions across the province without bothering to release its infrastructure priority list as promised.

“Sadly, the NDP seem content carry on with the practices of the previous regime rather than improve accountability and the public’s confidence in government.”

Statement by David Swann: Rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline

CALGARY, AB (November 6, 2015): Dr. David Swann released the following statement on the rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline by the Obama administration:

“I am disappointed that the United States government has rejected TransCanada’s application to build the Keystone XL pipeline. This project was arguably in the best economic interests of both Alberta and the United States, and would have created thousands of jobs on both sides of the border.

“Alberta’s next steps are clear – it is absolutely imperative that we help build and promote social license through strong environmental regulations and real action on climate change. We must also create new economic opportunities for industry, and work with our partners in Confederation to ensure that other pipeline projects do get built.”

“Over the last seven years, Keystone evolved into a proxy war over climate change. This was in spite of findings by the U.S. state department which showed that the pipeline could be built without undue environmental harm and consequences. Sadly, the former PC government’s abyssal record on the environment tarnished Alberta’s international reputation in a way that, in the end, TransCanada simply couldn’t overcome.

“Should the opportunity present itself and if the project remains economically viable, I am hopeful that TransCanada will consider reapplying in the future.