Dr. David Swann encourages Albertans to wear an orange shirt on September 30th as a symbol of hope and reconciliation

Calgary, AB (September 29, 2016): Dr. David Swann made this statement on Orange Shirt Day:

“September 30th is Orange Shirt Day, a day we wear a shirt of the same colour as that taken from Phyllis Webstad in 1973 on her first day at a residential school.

“Late September is the time when First Nation’s children were taken from their homes and moved to residential schools. We wear an orange shirt in recognition of not only Phyllis’ suffering, but the suffering of thousands incarcerated at these schools across Canada.

“Wearing the Orange Shirt is a symbol of hope, of a collective desire to find, in many different forms, supportive relationships and respect on the road to reconciliation.

“I believe that through remembrance of history we can forge a better future.

“I am wearing orange tomorrow, and I encourage others to do the same.”


Statement from Dr. David Swann on Alberta Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial Day

Edmonton, AB (September 25, 2016): Dr. David Swann made this statement in honour of Alberta Police and Peace Officers’ Memorial Day:

“Today we honour 100 Alberta men and women who laid down their lives in the service of others. These police and peace officers swore an oath to defend the laws of Alberta and died upholding that oath. There can be no greater sacrifice.

“Police and Peace Officer’s Memorial Day is a time to honour the fallen but, but also to acknowledge those who continue to serve every day, knowing full well the dangers they face. We owe a great debt to these women and men. Police and peace officers have the most demanding of professions: to be strong when strength is needed, to be compassionate when care is required and to make decisions of life and death in the blink of an eye.

“Today, I salute all Alberta’s police and peace officers, and honour and cherish the memory of those who have fallen in the line of duty.

“May they never be forgotten.”


Dr. David Swann commends Alberta Health for expanding role of paramedics

Calgary, AB (September 19, 2016): Dr. David Swann is commending Alberta Health for changing authority for paramedics from the Health Disciplines Act to the Health Professionals Act.

The changes, long called for by Dr. Swann, will give paramedics new responsibilities, diagnostic tools and collaboration opportunities.

“By giving these already highly trained men and women further importance, Alberta Health is improving health care access and services for all Albertans,” said Swann.

“I’d like to congratulate Minister Hoffman on making these changes,” continued Swann. “It’s been a long time coming but this transformation in the role of paramedics will improve patient care, emergency room wait times and front-line worker morale – as well as stretching our health care dollars.”


Statement from Dr. David Swann on the Government’s increase in renewable energy targets

Calgary, AB (September 14, 2016): Statement from Dr. David Swann on new government program to have 30% renewables by 2030.

“While I applaud any effort to increase the renewable portion of Alberta’s electricity mix, and the health benefits of eliminating coal-fired electricity, the announcement today by Ministers Phillips and McQuaig-Boyd shed very little light on how the government plans to meet their target. This is a massive increase in renewable electricity generation in a market currently over-supplied and with the lowest prices in recent history.

“We aren’t told how they plan to encourage investment, what incentives they will offer new projects or, most importantly, what it will cost government and electricity rate-payers to achieve such a bold target. Albertans and investors need to know how the current market-based system will change.

“Further, they’ve not touched on how they are going to help those whose livelihoods will be severely impacted by the impending changes.

“I am also wary of yet more agencies in Alberta. This government rightfully challenged the profusion of Agencies, Boards and Commissions under the PCs; I‘m hopeful they remember the pitfalls associated with creating new bureaucracies with vague mandates.


Statement from Dr. David Swann on World Suicide Prevention Day

Calgary, AB (September 12, 2016): Dr. David Swann made this statement in support of World Suicide Prevention Day:

“This past Saturday marked World Suicide Prevention Day, a day dedicated to helping those who are in such great distress that it seems suicide is the only alternative.

A decision to end one’s life comes for many reasons: loss, addictions, childhood trauma, depression, serious physical illness. These conditions can cause overwhelming feelings of helplessness and despair.

Here in Alberta rates of suicide have become particularly alarming. Our economic situation means many have lost their jobs and are feeling desperate about the future. In the first six months of 2015, Alberta’s suicide rate rose nearly 30%.

Given this surge in suicide, it is more and more likely that all of us will be affected at some point in our lives, whether it be family or friends or coworkers. In response, Alberta needs to provide more professional training and resources for primary care, first responders and the public.

With knowledge, training and support, many suicides can be prevented.

Below are links to resources and information that can help both those suffering from suicidal thoughts and those who are afraid someone they know is thinking about suicide:


Dr. David Swann disappointed the Government has forced through unneeded and expensive changes to the Elections Alberta nomination process

Edmonton, AB (September 9, 2016): Dr. David Swann has expressed his disappointment that the government used their majority on the Special Ethics and Accountability Committee to ram through expensive and unnecessary amendments to the nomination process.

Despite there being no evidence of abuse, nor that potential party nominees are being left out of the process, the committee has passed an amendment requiring all party nominees to file financial returns to the Alberta Elections.

According to Elections Alberta, the cost to taxpayers for this amendment will exceed $1M in the first year and $400,000 every year thereafter.

“This is a naïve and tone deaf attempt at fixing a problem the NDP can’t even show exists,” Swann said. “Going down this road will cost over a million dollars, just to start. Further, increasing paperwork is far more likely to discourage potential nominees from running than it is to attract them.”

“The opposition parties are united in opposing this change,” continued Swann. “That, in itself, is a sign the NDP members need to step back and remember the purpose of this committee is to find common ground on making elections in Alberta more fair and transparent.”


Dr. David Swann dismayed by Health Ministry’s use of fear to justify their status quo on opioid epidemic

Edmonton, AB (September 8, 2016): Dr. David Swann was dismayed by the Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne’s response to his call for a Public Health Emergency over the growing number of opioid deaths.

“Instead of using evidence to show the government is doing all it can to prevent more deaths, the Associate Minister instead chose to raise the spectre of police knocking in doors and confiscating private property,” Swann said. “This is ludicrous, public relations spin at its lowest. Worse, it is disrespectful to the hundreds of families torn by the tragedy of this epidemic.”

In several interviews yesterday, Associate Minister Payne stated that her ministry sought legal advice and they determined a Public Health Emergency was inappropriate.

“Perhaps instead of consulting lawyers, the Minister should have consulted doctors and specialists,” Swann, himself a medical doctor, stated.

There have been multiple medical specialists nationwide that consider this crisis a Public Health Emergency. One of the most vocal, Dr. Hakique Virani, is an addictions specialist at the University of Alberta.

“Dr. Virani has spent years calling on governments for action,” Swann said. “He’s one of the country’s top specialists and he’s right here in Alberta. Why is this not government listening?”

Minister Payne also told media that Naloxone kits had reduced deaths by several hundred. However, recent statistics show deaths from opioid overdose in the first six months of 2016 are greater than in the first six months of 2015.

“That 300 lives have been saved through Naloxone kits should not be taken as an indication our system is working,” Swann stated. “It’s an indication of how bad the problem is and an indictment of our current efforts to control it.” 

“The response of Alberta Health to my call for a Public Health Emergency is severely disappointing,” Swann said. “It is devoid of evidence and I expected far better from this government.”


Calgary Sun: Dr. David Swann repeats call for fentanyl state of emergency

A family devastated by fentanyl added their voices to the call for more provincial action on the deadly drug as Dr. David Swann renewed his demand for the NDP government to institute a public health emergency in relation to fentanyl.

… Swann said declaring an emergency would also allow the minister of health greater ability to mobilize resources to deal with fentanyl. Read Full Article…


Dr. David Swann says Government must declare Public Health State of Emergency to stop fentanyl deaths

Calgary, AB (September 7, 2016): At a press conference today, Dr. David Swann said that a Public Health State of Emergency is critical in slowing down and eventually halting the current opioid crisis.

“We are now five years into this growing crisis but still have very little information on the nature of this public health epidemic. About all we know is that death rates are approaching one a day and not improving under the current approach. A Public Health State of Emergency will mobilize resources and require ministries beyond Health, including Justice and Human Services, to work together. A state of emergency will also provide timely information on each death and give doctors, police, social workers and addiction specialists the tools they require to combat this epidemic.

“Any other preventable illness causing so much death and suffering would have long since been declared a Public Health Emergency.”

Dr. David Swann, MD, MLA Calgary Mountain View

The press conference was held at the Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (AARC), a treatment facility dedicated to youth aged 12 to 21. 

“AARC believes that we need to bring government, publicly funded agencies, and non-profit organizations together to fight fentanyl’s public health crisis, which is nearing one death per day in Alberta. While we applaud the government’s investment in the Naloxone program, which has helped to save lives, it is not getting to the root of the problem. In order to truly address the fentanyl crisis impacting families and young people in our community today, more funding is desperately needed for prevention and treatment.”

Dr. Jackie Smith, RN, BN, PhD, Director of Community Education and Outreach

“When I was growing up, I was happy, smart and had a great life. I loved to dance and my family was everything to me. In Grade 8, my life suddenly changed when I drank for the first time. From there my drug use progressed. I quit dance and lost interest in old friends, family and the things I once enjoyed. I started using fentanyl when I was 19 years old and my use took me to a place where I didn’t have anything left. I signed in to AARC on January 26, 2016, tired and exhausted from my addiction. I am so grateful for my journey in recovery and the people in my life today.”

Tessa J, graduate of the AARC program

Dr. Swann, Dr. Smith and Tessa were joined by Rosalind Davis and Jessica Holtsbaum, partner and sister of Nathan Huggins-Rosenthal, who died of an opioid overdose in February. They have recently started a foundation called Changing the Face of Addiction, whose mission is to eliminate the stigma associated with addiction in the health care system.

“In the summer of 2014, Nathan and I bought an Edwardian house; we renovated, moved in, adopted a rescue dog and were ready to begin our lives together. Nathan was a successful stock broker with a philosophy degree and an MBA. He was handsome, charming and had a wicked dry sense of humour. Less than two years later, Nathan is dead.

“The Government’s refusal to declare this crisis a public health emergency perpetuates the institutional and societal stigma surrounding addiction. As a family that has experienced firsthand the shame and anguish of addiction, we know the failure of our current system and believe that immediate action is needed to prevent more senseless suffering and deaths.”

Rosalind Davis, co-founder of Changing the Face of Addiction

Background:

Recent statistics show that opioid deaths continue to increase. In the first six months of 2016 there were 150 fatal overdoses, during the same period in 2015, there were 139 deaths.

Premier Notley and Health Minister Sarah Hoffman have both stated that a declaration of Public Health Emergency is unnecessary as the government has all the powers it currently requires to handle the crisis.

“If the government has all the powers it needs,” concluded Dr. Swann. “Why don’t we know the characteristics of the victim? What opioids they’re using? How many people are being seen in ER and in jails? All we have is a body count – when the Health ministry chooses to publish it – and that’s not good enough.”


Metro News: No Alberta state of emergency over fentanyl: province

The Alberta NDP government is sticking to its guns by not calling a public health state of emergency over the current fentanyl crisis.

On Wednesday, Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann urged the NDP government to enact a public health state of emergency to better address the province’s current opioid crisis.

Swann said the government’s current approach isn’t improving death rates, as this year’s current fentanyl-related death toll is 153, which represents dates from January 1 to June 30. That number is slightly more than 2015’s January-to-June death toll of 139. Read Full Article…