Dr. David Swann’s statement on the passing of Don Getty

Calgary, AB (February 26, 2016): “I was saddened to learn today of the passing of former Premier Don Getty and my thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said Swann.

“Don served Albertans with commitment and dedication for many years as MLA, Cabinet Minister and, of course, premier. Don was tasked with guiding the province through challenging economic times, much like today’s. He’s also fondly remembered by the Lubicon people for his efforts on their behalf.”

“As a youngster, I remember watching him guide the Eskimos to the Grey Cup championship. He brought that energy and leadership to his career in politics.”

“Don was dedicated to Alberta and all Albertans, he will be missed.”

Dr. David Swann urges restraint without panic in face of projected $10 billion deficit

Calgary, AB (February 24, 2016): Dr. David Swann says he was shocked by the potential for a $10 billion dollar deficit.

“It’s a definite shock,” Swann said. “We all knew the results of sustained low oil prices wouldn’t be pretty but $10 billion is a huge number.”

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci indicated Alberta’s deficit this year could run an additional $5 billion over top of the almost $5 billion already in the budget for a total of close to $10 billion dollars.

“It’s important not to panic in the face of these huge numbers,” Swann stated. “The knee-jerk reaction is to stop all government spending, reduce services and start laying people off. Unfortunately, that is unhelpful and probably damaging.”

“What really needs to happen is to encourage diverse economic growth while finding ways to deliver government services in a more cost efficient manner,” Swann continued. “The Liberals have already detailed changes in the delivery of Health Care as well as a change in the way we manage affordable housing. Both proposals would deliver better service and cost governments less.”

A long standing plank in the Liberal platform has been the elimination of small business tax. This would further diversify the economy and provide a much-needed boost to smaller firms who employ tens of thousands of Albertans. The loss in revenue would be more than offset by continued payment of income taxes from Albertans with secure jobs.

“The Provincial government can’t hide in fear. They must be courageous in the methods they use to combat this severe economic downturn,” Swann concluded.

Dr. Swann reiterates his call of 30 years ago that safe levels of fluoride are beneficial

Calgary, AB (February 18, 2016): Dr. David Swann is asking Calgary City Council to reconsider its 2011 decision to stop fluoridating Calgary’s water or to continue providing alternative delivery methods for low-income children. Thirty years ago as the Calgary Board of Health Associate Medical Officer, Dr. Swann was advocating for safe levels of fluoride, whether in the water or provided as drops or tablets.

“Almost 30 years ago, when I was Associate Medical Officer for Calgary Board of Health, it was already evident that safe levels of fluoride were beneficial, particularly for low-income children,” Swann stated. “Today, with Alberta having the highest dental costs in the country, the argument is even stronger. If more proof was needed, this week’s University of Calgary report provides it.”

“Access to dental care in Alberta can be prohibitive. Clinics that offer reduced fee services are overwhelmed and a cash infusion from the Province seems unlikely,” said Swann. “When the City of Calgary stopped fluoridating the water, council promised access to other methods of fluoridation for those who needed it – that lasted one year. The benefit of safe levels of fluoride to low-income families is immense.”

“Access to fluoride, whether added to drinking water or taken orally as drops or tablets, has been rightly hailed as one of the greatest modern public health victories. It is a proven safe and cost effective way to reduce the need for dental services, especially for low-income children,” Swann concluded.

Dr. David Swann calls for fatality review in death of David McQueen

Calgary, AB (February 10, 2016): Dr. David Swann has written to the Fatality Review Board asking for a fatality inquiry into the death of David McQueen

“This request is not to find fault with any particular party but to understand how such an event came to happen,” said Swann. “Asking for the inquiry was a promise I made immediately after the tragic event and after I discovered Mr. McQueen had previously been in touch with my office.”

Prior to his death, Mr. McQueen had been in touch with the constituency offices of several Calgary politicians. His last contact with Swann’s constituency of Calgary Mountain View was approximately a year ago.

“Our systems may have failed in many areas before Mr. McQueen started shooting a gun at police. I, and also those in the health and justice systems, would like to know what we could have done differently,” Swann concluded.

Dr. David Swann calls Disaster Relief Program transition ‘stunningly inept’

Calgary, AB (February 10, 2016): “Today’s report of the Auditor General reveals stunning ineptitude and questionable decisions on the part of the former PC administration,” says Dr. David Swann. “In hindsight, all it took was one major disaster to expose significant holes in Alberta’s Disaster Recovery Program.”

“The report also highlights the critical importance of Alberta having a robust and responsive Disaster Recovery Program,” Swann continued. “The Insurance Bureau of Canada has labelled Alberta the Natural Disaster Capital of Canada, and for good reason – the province has the highest number of catastrophic insured losses compared to other jurisdictions.”

Swann is hopeful that the Auditor General’s recommendations will lead to a better coordinated in-house system that puts disaster victims first. “A good start,” he says, “would be to consider the many excellent recommendations proposed by local groups such as the High River DRP Advocacy Committee.”

Swann also believes that the province needs to start budgeting much more realistically for disaster recovery, and should look to facilitate overland flood insurance usage in Alberta.   

Dr. David Swann asks Canadian Heritage Minister Joly to review CBC cuts in light of private media consolidation

Edmonton, AB (February 8, 2016): Dr. David Swann today sent a letter to Minister of Canadian Heritage Melanie Joly asking her to review spending cuts to the CBC and the potential damage of continued media consolidation in Alberta.

“A free, diverse and independent media is the cornerstone of democracy,” said Swann. “Because of previous cuts, the CBC is barely standing while major consolidations of media properties continue to remove diversity of opinion from the public domain.”

In his letter, Swann asks the Minister to review the funding levels of CBC in Alberta, including the decision to sell the CBC Calgary building. Swann also requested Minister Joly review and challenge the sanctioning of future consolidation of media properties.

“There is no question that media is a business, nor that businesses have a right and an obligation to their shareholders to make profits in the best way they can,” Swann stated. “However, in a democracy, media also has an obligation to the public interest. This interest is best served by diverse private ownership and a strong public broadcaster.”

Dr. Swann Extends Best Wishes for Chinese New Year 2016

Today marks the start of Chinese New Year, the most important annual celebration for Alberta’s Chinese community. I’m sure celebrations will continue for some time and on behalf of the Alberta Liberal Opposition, I extend my best wishes to all Albertan’s taking part in the festivities.

The Chinese community is a cornerstone of Alberta’s prosperity. Its members’ hard work, dedication and entrepreneurial spirit are felt throughout the province. We all benefit from the innovation, leadership and unique traditions that Chinese culture offers.

A new year brings with it new beginnings and fresh opportunities. 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, an animal known for its intelligence, quick-wits and cleverness – this year, those traits will be more important than ever. I have no doubt those celebrating the Chinese New Year will be among the leading figures who propel Alberta through temporary hard times and into a prosperous future.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year. May you be surrounded by friends and family and may the year ahead bring you health, happiness and prosperity.