Statement from Dr. David Swann on the National Day of Mourning for workers killed or injured on the job

Edmonton, AB (April 28, 2016): Dr. David Swann released this statement:

“On this National Day of Mourning, we take a moment to remember those who have been injured, disabled or have lost their lives while on the job. Sadly, workplace injuries and deaths continue to affect Albertans across the province. In 2015 there were 125 Albertans lost to workplace illness or injury. Every one of these deaths tears away a spouse, sibling, parent and friend. Just yesterday we learned of two more workers who lost their lives in separate jobsite actions. My thoughts and prayers go out to their loved ones.

“The Day of Mourning reminds us that Albertans have a right to a work environment that is safe and healthy, and that we must continue to strive together to defend that right.

“Last December Alberta passed the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act. This legislation now protects over ten thousand formerly exempt Albertans and provides them with the same security enjoyed by their urban counterparts. These rights, granted to agri-business employees in all other Canadian provinces, have been long overdue. Despite friction in the early stages, I have no doubt these changes will create long-term benefit for both employers and workers.

“We must remember, too, that a healthy work environment is not only physically healthy, but also mentally healthy. As we commit ourselves to creating conditions that are safe for our workers, let us also commit ourselves to conditions that are supportive of their mental health. Bullying, sexual harassment and gender biases are all workplace behaviours that belong in the past. There are many initiatives out there to help create a supportive environment and I encourage employees and employers both to take part.

“The jobsite is an important place for Albertans, and as Albertans we should all strive together to make it a place free of physical harm and mental hardship.”


Statement from Dr. David Swann on today’s report of the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA)

Edmonton, AB (April 25, 2016): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement regarding today’s report of the OCYA on the suicides of seven Aboriginal youth:

“Today’s report from the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate (OCYA) details a tragedy of almost unimaginable scope.

“For the families of the seven Aboriginal youth who ended their lives, the tragedy is personal and my thoughts and prayers go out to all of them.

“For Aboriginal communities dealing with the continued loss of their youth, the pain of these frequent untimely deaths is devastating and tears at the very fabric of their culture.

“The twelve recommendations outlined in the OCYA’s report are timely and to the point. They echo the calls of many previous reports (such as the recently released Mental Health and Addictions Review) for community based services, early intervention and culturally sensitive options for Aboriginals.

“How many more studies and reports need to happen before government finally acts? The report’s inescapable conclusions point a finger directly at the policies of previous governments both provincially and federally. There is no doubt that the prolonged and repeated separation of Aboriginal children from their communities has wreaked havoc down the generations. Today this trauma is felt in poverty, substance abuse, fractured communities and a suicide rate five times the national average.

“While it may take generations for the legacy of residential schools and the ‘60s Scoop’ to finally wash away, there are real and tangible efforts that can be made now to mitigate some of the worst trauma and, perhaps, interrupt this cycle of tragedy and sorrow.

“I urge the Premier and the Ministers of Health, Human Services and Indigenous Relations to implement the recommendations made by the OCYA without further delay”


Dr. David Swann says shuttering of Calgary Urban Project Society clinic highlights need for dental reform

EDMONTON, AB (APRIL 25th, 2016): News that the Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) is suspending its dental services this month comes as a deep disappointment, says Dr. David Swann. The shuttering of the clinic, which was one of the small number of institutions servicing people without insurance, leaves vulnerable Albertans with even fewer options for critical dental care.

“Last week I wrote to the Health Minister asking for policies to increase access to dental health care in Alberta,” said Dr. Swann. “Dental care in Alberta is the most expensive in Canada, and the Minister needs to take action on reform sooner rather than later.”

In 2015 the CUPS clinic helped 375 patients without insurance, which totalled to approximately $100,000 worth of free care. It is one of several non-profit services attempting to fill gaps in service aggravated by policies of the combined Dental Association and College.

“Minister Hoffman has promised to look into the policies of the Alberta Dental Association and College with a view to either separation or further regulation,” said Dr. Swann. “I’m hopeful that a year from now, when CUPS looks to reopen their doors, meaningful change in Alberta’s dental landscape will have been accomplished.”


Dr. David Swann concerned by delays in consultations regarding the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act (Bill 6)

Edmonton, AB (April 22, 2016): Dr. David Swann has expressed serious reservations about delays in the consultation process for the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, also known as Bill 6.

“The bill was passed in December of 2015 and the application process closed in February,” Swann says. “Yet the Minister of Agriculture has not even approved the list of those to be involved in the Working Groups, never mind set a date or location.”

“We know this Act is already proving beneficial,” Swann continued. “Over 10,000 agricultural workers are now covered and, since January 1st, 154 workers have been able to receive assistance for injuries suffered while working. The Minister needs to speed up the process of fully implementing the act. The uncertainty created by the delay hurts both workers and employers.”

“This is a labour bill and Minister Carlier rightly indicated its implementation will transition to Labour Minister Gray,” Swann added.

Swann also expressed concern about the involvement of the farmworkers themselves. Many will have to travel and take time off to participate in the Working Groups. In response to a letter from Swann, Minister Carlier indicated he supports payment at the regular board rate for farmworkers who will be involved in the proposed consultations as well as travel and living expenses.

“Many of these workers are already marginalized. They know their employers don’t want them to be a part of the process and they need support in order to be fully involved,” Swann stated. “I welcome the comments from the Minister regarding pay and expenses but would like to see the full plan for ensuring the farm workers are fully educated and able to represent themselves.”

“Far from being radical or an urban versus rural issue, this legislation brings Alberta in line with other provinces in Canada,” Swann concluded. “I urge Minister Carlier to transition this labour bill to the Labour Minister after finalizing the members of the working groups, and for the NDP government to actively move forward on a fair and constructive consultation process.”


Dr. David Swann releases statement on the beginning of Passover

EDMONTON, AB (April 22, 2016): Dr. David Swann released the following statement today to mark the beginning of Passover:

“Today is the 14th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan, which means Albertans of the Jewish faith across the province will be gathering tonight with their loved ones to observe the first Passover Seder. This ritual celebrates the deliverance of the ancient Israelites from slavery, and reminds us all of the many struggles the Jewish people have faced down the centuries.

“I wish to extend my warmest wishes and those of the Alberta Liberals to all those celebrating Passover this week. Chag sameach!”


Dr. David Swann releases statement on Earth Day

EDMONTON, AB (April 22nd, 2016): Dr. David Swann released the following statement today to mark Earth Day:

“It has now been 46 years since the first Earth Day. In that time we have seen enormous changes worldwide in environmental consciousness and attitudes. Today, Canada joined 169 other countries in signing the historic Paris Agreement, demonstrating just how far we’ve come since that first Earth Day in 1970.

Albertans, too, have seen significant changes in attitude towards the environment.

My first years as an MLA were mostly spent fighting Alberta governments who were unable or unwilling to shift their ideology about climate change and environmental stewardship. Under the current government we have seen numerous positive changes to the way Alberta manages its resources. It is this type of leadership which will create the goodwill necessary to build the national and international projects which are so vital to our economy.

Earth Day is about remembering that we all share the same air, the same water and the same fragile ecosystem. We are all in this together and the actions we take now will determine the future of our planet and the future of our children and grandchildren who will inherit it.”


Dr. David Swann releases statement on Earth Day

EDMONTON, AB (April 22nd, 2016): Dr. David Swann released the following statement today to mark Earth Day:

“It has now been 46 years since the first Earth Day. In that time we have seen enormous changes worldwide in environmental consciousness and attitudes. Today, Canada joined 169 other countries in signing the historic Paris Agreement, demonstrating just how far we’ve come since that first Earth Day in 1970.

Albertans, too, have seen significant changes in attitude towards the environment.

My first years as an MLA were mostly spent fighting Alberta governments who were unable or unwilling to shift their ideology about climate change and environmental stewardship. Under the current government we have seen numerous positive changes to the way Alberta manages its resources. It is this type of leadership which will create the goodwill necessary to build the national and international projects which are so vital to our economy.

Earth Day is about remembering that we all share the same air, the same water and the same fragile ecosystem. We are all in this together and the actions we take now will determine the future of our planet and the future of our children and grandchildren who will inherit it.”