Statement from Dr. David Swann on the tentative agreement reached by Alberta Health and the Alberta Medical Association

Edmonton, AB (August 31, 2016): Dr. David Swann made this statement regarding today’s announcement of a tentative agreement between Alberta Health and the Alberta Medical Association (AMA), with Alberta Health Services (AHS) actively involved for the first time in years:

“While I am happy to see Alberta Health, AHS and the AMA negotiating well in advance of the 2018 contract expiry date, I do not, at this point, see meaningful progress towards an improved, sustainable health care system.

“Associate Minister Brandy Payne and AMA president Dr. Carl Nohr were unwilling to provide details ahead of a vote by the AMA membership.

“Of particular concern in relation to doctor’s fees was the announcement this month of modest reductions in only three fee codes out of approximately 3,000 billing codes for physicians.

“The announced limited trial of a blended capitation model, as opposed to fee-for-service, provides more hope for limiting cost increases. I urge Alberta Health and the AMA to expand this trial and thereby lay the groundwork for a model that rewards time spent and quality of care.

“The NDP government is in the unenviable position of having to clean up after years of neglect by the PCs. Nonetheless, difficult economic decisions must be made in order to preserve a healthcare system Albertan’s can rely on”

Dr. David Swann calls on Minister Eggen to enforce legislated LGBTQ rights for children

Edmonton, AB (August 30, 2016):In light of the point blank refusal by two private schools to implement Gay-Straight Alliances and transgender policies, Dr. David Swann is calling on the Alberta Minister of Education to take action.

“This is precisely the situation where LGBTQ protections are most needed,” said Swann. “There is an antagonistic school board and a strong bias against the LGBTQ community. The legislation, supported by every provincial party, and the policies set forth by the government were created to provide kids with the right to be who they are. No organization, especially a school, should have the ability to take those rights away.”

The two private schools, run by the Baptist Christian Education Society, receive over half their funding from provincial coffers. Despite this, the chair of the board states he will not follow legislated LGBTQ regulations and he will not allow anyone appointed from Alberta Education to work with his schools to develop a new transgender policy.

Further, the chair of the board has suggested that if there was an LGBTQ student looking for help he would use the power of the gospel to ‘[deliver them] from that lifestyle.’ This is a clear reference to conversion therapy, a much discredited procedure that has been banned in several jurisdictions, including by the Province of Ontario.

“I am not only concerned with the LGBTQ policies,” said Swann. “This school is also clearly advocating the discredited and incredibly damaging theories of conversion therapy. This type of ‘therapy’ is widely opposed by experts in psychology, psychiatry and social work. There is no place for it in Alberta’s schools.”

“The defiance of the Baptist Christian Education Society is a clear challenge to the healthy and safe environment all children deserve,” Swann concluded. “The Minister must take quick and decisive action.”

Dr. David Swann calls for a ban on cosmetic pesticide use

Calgary, AB (August 30th, 2016): Dr. David Swann expressed his concern with today’s report from the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), which revealed lax regulation of cosmetic pesticides in Alberta.

The report, which compared provincial regulation and municipal bylaws regarding pesticide use across the country, found that the only government body regulating pesticide use in Alberta was the Summer Village of Grandview. Municipal and provincial decision makers, the report notes, rely on the federal government’s licensing of specific chemicals to ensure the safety of Albertans instead of making efforts to control usage.

“I have spent years speaking out against cosmetic pesticide use, dating back to when I helped create Calgary’s first pesticide-free park across from my own house,” said Dr. Swann. “We do not know all the harmful effects of biocides but these are biological poisons with growing evidence of long term health consequences.

“I am disappointed that the public health officers have not been public in calling for a ban on cosmetic pesticides,” Dr. Swann continued. “The current system has too little oversight and makes it easy to overuse these dangerous chemicals.

“The province has a responsibility to manage pesticide use to ensure the lowest impact on the environment and public health.”

Dr. David Swann celebrates overdue farm worker protections on Alberta Farm Workers Day

CALGARY, AB (August 20th, 2016): Dr. David Swann made the following statement on Alberta Farm Workers Day:

“This Farm Workers Day is a particularly special one. For years, I have called on successive Progressive Conservative governments to protect the basic rights of farm workers and bring Alberta in line with the rest of Canada.

“Despite serious government errors in communication, I was proud to support the protection and benefits the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act provides. Farmworkers, farmers and Alberta’s access to foreign markets are all supported by this bill.

“Despite these vital protections, some political leaders in Alberta are speaking of repealing this bill in what can only be called crass political opportunism.

“It is shameful Alberta took so long to provide farmworkers with the protections every other employee in Alberta receives, despite injuries and deaths every year. The Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act is an enormous step towards addressing that shame. What remains now is to move ahead as quickly as possible to implement standard workplace safety and labour laws, so we can put an end to the preventable injuries that happen every day in this province.

“Farm workers provide the food we lay on our table and are the backbone of Alberta’s thriving agriculture sector. They have the thanks and best wishes of myself and the Alberta Liberals.”

Dr. David Swann calls on health minister to use private industry to offset health costs

Calgary, AB (August 17, 2016): Revelations today that Alberta Health Services (AHS) must spend tens of millions of dollars on renovating their ageing and unsafe laundry facilities has caused Dr. David Swann to ask AHS to revisit contracting private industry for the service.

“I am not aware of any evidence that public funding and management of hospital laundry services improves access, quality or cost-effectiveness of health care,” Swann, himself a physician, said. “Private laundry service is not a threat to public healthcare – it can reduce, through healthy market competition, our overall healthcare costs.”

Last year Health Minister Hoffman intervened directly and overruled AHS’ decision to contract private industry for laundry service. The minister has frequently claimed her actions are intended to protect jobs. However, AHS is now claiming any new facilities will be automated and require 50% fewer staff.

“This ministerial intervention was based on ideology, rather than a solid business case,” Swann continued. “We now know this plan is not going to save jobs or money. The millions of dollars required for AHS to do its own laundry could be better spent on patient care, salaries and critical infrastructure.”

“The government needs to overcome its ideological posturing and govern in the best interests of all Albertans,” stated Swann. “In this case it means giving AHS the independence to make good decisions and allowing the private sector to be a partner in reducing the overall cost of healthcare.”

Dr. David Swann wishes Albertans a happy Heritage Day

CALGARY, AB (August 1st, 2016): Dr. David Swann made the following statement in honour of Heritage Day:

“On Heritage Day we remind ourselves that ours is a province whose past, present, and future is shaped by cultures and traditions from all over the world. From aboriginal peoples that have lived on this land for thousands of years to new Canadians still settling into their homes, Alberta has been built on enormous and lasting contributions from people of innumerable colours, languages, and creeds.

“This day reminds us that our diversity is our strength, and always has been. Alberta is always made stronger through people coming together from all walks of life to build great communities, and thus a great society. Our neighbours’ unique backgrounds and understanding of the world enrich us not only as Albertans, but as human beings.

“Given the ethnic and religious tensions in other parts of the world, we must remember our nation has an important role in our experiment with diversity. Heritage Day is a day to gather with our friends and neighbours and celebrate our differences; on behalf of myself and the Alberta Liberals, I wish you all a happy one.”