Statement from Dr. David Swann recognizing the heroes of the Wood Buffalo wildfire

Edmonton, AB (October 31, 2016): Dr. David Swann today made this statement at a government ceremony honouring the heroes of the Wood Buffalo wildfire.

“Experts will tell you that when confronted with a beast, you’re supposed to run away. Such experts obviously don’t live in Alberta.

Today, it is my profound pleasure to recognize those who stood toe to toe and fought tooth and nail with the worst beast Alberta has ever seen.

Some here fought with water and fire-axe, some fought by supporting those in harm’s way, and some fought by providing tens of thousands with desperately needed food, clothing and shelter. All are heroes. As are their families who supported them, often without knowing whether their loved one was safe.

There are many dramatic images of the Fort Mac fire but for me it is the images of the fraught evacuation, lit by an eerie orange glow that will live forever in my mind. With the fire burning right to the sides of the road, an entire city was hurriedly evacuated and moved south along a single, slender ribbon of asphalt. I still marvel at this accomplishment. Those here and the citizens of Fort McMurray have my undying respect for this marvelous feat.

I would like to take a moment and remember Emily Ryan and Aaron Hodgsen who were killed in a car accident during the evacuation. For their families and friends, no amount of rebuilding will be able to make their home the place it once was. Such tragic loss provides us a stark reminder of how fortunate so many others were.

Though the fire is out, the work of heroes does not stop. Raising Fort McMurray from the ashes will be a job requiring different skills but no less strength, dedication and determination.

I want Ft. McMurray to know that Alberta is here for you. The people of our province have always responded in times of need – it is, perhaps, our defining trait. Throughout our history, we have supported each other after drought, flood and fire – this time will be no exception.

The beast destroyed many homes and neighbourhoods but the heroic efforts of those here today shielded much of Ft. McMurray from the flames. You have given us a foundation on which to rebuild.

Words are not nearly enough. Your bravery and sacrifice helped nearly 100,000 Albertans flee a monster, find them shelter and, against all odds, give them something to go home to.

Thank you, Alberta is in debt to you and your families.”

Dr. David Swann pleased government is making long called for changes in the fight against opioid overdose

Calgary, AB (October 27, 2016): Dr. David Swann is pleased with news the government has finally announced changes to the way it is fighting against opioid overdose and addiction.

Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne today announced an improvement in collection and publishing of data, expanded access to opioid replacement therapy, funding for supervised consumption sites and improvements to opioid prescription monitoring.

“For months public health experts, doctors and victim’s families have been calling for these changes,” Swann said. “I’m pleased the government has finally committed to taking these life-saving actions.”

Swann and other public health experts have repeatedly asked the government to alter the way it is handling the opioid overdose epidemic. Of particular concern has been the collection and dissemination of data crucial to understanding the nature of this crisis and access to addiction treatment.

The province also released third quarter statistics showing there were 47 fentanyl related deaths in the third quarter. Down from 66 in the same quarter last year.

“It’s far too early in this epidemic to claim any successes but this small dip in tragic and preventable deaths is encouraging,” Swann stated.

“The long called for measures announced today will undoubtedly aid in the fight against opioid overdoses,” Swann continued. “I, and all those who have fought for change, will be watching closely to see that these vital tools are implemented in a timely manner.”

See the Alberta Health news release here:

Dr. David Swann praises Education Minister for decisive action regarding severe financial mismanagement at Trinity Christian School

Calgary, AB (October 26, 2016):Dr. David Swann has praised Education Minister Eggen’s decisive action in revoking Trinity Christian School’s (TCS) registration and accreditation.

A Ministry of Education investigation into the operation of TCS, a private school operator revealed many financial irregularities including: excessive leases, salary remuneration and funding transfers. The entire report can be found here:

“I applaud Alberta Education for reacting decisively to a serious breach in the financial operations of an independent private school operator,” Swann said. “I only wish this could have happened before September as thousands of families must now find alternate schooling for their children.”

“Alberta has a distributed education system giving parents many educational options,” Swann continued. “Unfortunately this also increases the opportunity for mismanagement, intentional or otherwise.”

“By taking decisive action, the Minister has clearly shown that school boards, public or private, must adhere to Alberta’s educational standards,” Swann concluded.

Parents seeking more information can visit Alberta Education’s website here:

They can also contact Alberta Education’s Greater Edmonton Services Branch by phone at (780) 427-9296 (dial 310-0000 for toll-free access)

Dr. David Swann responds to the Premier’s State of the Province Address

Calgary, AB (October 19, 2016): Dr. David Swann made this statement in response to the Premier’s State of the Province Speech:

“Today, Premier Rachel Notley addressed Albertans to give them an update on the state of our province and the provincial government’s plans to return Alberta to economic prosperity.

“Unfortunately, Premier Notley offered very little in the way of an update on Alberta. Rather, she described a series of previously announced government initiatives.

“Leaders across North America, including President Obama, have identified fentanyl and opioid overdose as an immediate health emergency needing stronger leadership and transparency. It was disappointing it didn’t warrant a mention in Premier Notley’s speech.

“Several times in her speech the Premier mentioned investing in Alberta. None more so than when she blamed oil prices for the lack of capital flowing into the province. That is partially true but the government’s own actions on several issues have not improved the investment climate.

“An investment cooling list would include the lawsuit against the power purchase agreement holders, the unknown ramifications of the carbon tax, and the uncertainty surrounding electricity pricing and capital recovery for coal plants. 

“Perhaps the most disappointing part of today’s update was the warning to municipalities to not expect provincial funds for their chosen infrastructure projects.

“Proposals like the Green Line in Calgary and the Yellowhead highway upgrade in Edmonton have city and federal funding already committed, all that’s needed is for the province to come on board. Instead, it appears the province will go it alone and decide for itself which projects are best for municipalities.

“And, while increasing minimum wage is one tool to address the growing gap between rich and poor, it has significant adverse effects in the current climate and there is longstanding need for a serious poverty reduction plan in Alberta.

“I applaud the new agreement in principle with AMA which will move towards fewer fee for service physicians, greater accountability in PCNs and better sharing of appropriate health information among professionals for the benefit of all patients. Though there is still a long way to go in creating a more equitable fee schedule that rewards quality and prevention among the various medical professionals.

“The news that ATB has lent $750 million to small and medium businesses is also good to hear.

“However, Premier Notley and the NDP government need to realize that Albertans cannot continue to wait on their big plans. Albertans and especially the business community, as well as international investors deserve essential details about the plan going forward.”

Statement from Dr. David Swann on the tragic death of Jim Prentice

Calgary, AB (October 14, 2016): Dr. David Swann made this statement on the tragic passing of former Alberta Premier and Calgary MP, Jim Prentice:

“I am deeply saddened at the sudden passing of Jim Prentice.

“The Prentice family lives a stone’s throw from my own home in Calgary. During Jim’s time as an MP our constituencies overlapped and we worked together on issues of mutual importance. Our meetings were always cordial and constructive. Jim was honest, fair and dedicated to what was best for the people he represented.

“I saw the same dedication during his time as Premier, though we often disagreed on policy.

“There are no words to soften such a terrible tragedy. My thoughts and prayers remain with his wife, children and loved ones.”

Dr. David Swann alarmed and frustrated with revelation of opioid deaths at the Edmonton Remand Centre

Edmonton, AB (October 13, 2016): Dr. David Swann is alarmed at the revelation of 23 overdoses and three deaths this year in the secure Edmonton Remand Centre.

Statement from Dr. Swann:

“Even in controlled environments, the number of opioid deaths in Alberta is rising. This should ring alarm bells throughout the province.

“I am also frustrated that Albertans are relying on the media to investigate and publish these statistics, rather than our government.

“Alberta health officials have repeatedly stated a Public Health Emergency (PHE) is not necessary. However, the slow drip of information and regular revelations of new problems indicate the Government of Alberta does not have the grip on this crisis it says it does.

“In the case of the Remand Centre and other correctional facilities a PHE would allow the Chief Medical Officer of Health to mobilize sufficient health and corrections staff to adequately manage the initiation of opioid treatment. A step which would help prevent death and overdose.

“This evolving epidemic is impossible to manage and reverse through normal means, there are simply too many different elements of the problem.

“The Health Minister or the Chief Medical Officer must declare a state of emergency to mandate ministerial cooperation in attacking this deadly outbreak.”

Calgary Herald: Liberal Leader David Swann hosts town hall meeting on fentanyl crisis

Health care and addiction specialists met with Calgarians to discuss solutions to the provincewide opioid crisis.

The town hall meeting Thursday night featured a panel of experts on addiction and health care in Alberta. The event was hosted by Calgary-Mountain View MLA and Alberta Liberal Party Leader Dr. David Swann, who believes the fentanyl crisis warrants a “state of emergency.”

In a statement, Swann said declaring a public health state of emergency would “mobilize resources” and give professionals dealing with fentanyl abuse “the tools they require to fight this epidemic.”

“Any other preventable illness causing so much death and suffering would have long since been declared a public health emergency,” he said. Read Full Article…

Dr. David Swann thanks Alberta’s teachers on World Teacher’s Day

Edmonton, AB (October 5, 2016): Statement from Dr. David Swann on World Teacher’s Day:

“On World Teacher’s Day I’d like to thank all of Alberta’s teachers for the amazing work they do.

“Teaching is one of the great professions. One merely has to hear the phrase ‘favourite teacher’ and an image rises in our minds of a person who changed our life through their dedication, hard work and, sometimes, sheer stubborn refusal to let us fail.

“Whether showing young minds the wonder of reading and writing, pushing the boundaries of knowledge at universities or preserving our indigenous cultures through languages and traditions, teachers are the foundation of our society.

“Alberta’s teachers are some of the best in the world and fully deserve all the recognition we can offer them. I wish them all a very happy World Teacher’s Day.”

Calgary Sun: MLA David Swann raises questions about opiod death information after his request is denied by Alberta Justice

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says the provincial government has rejected his request for information about opioid-related deaths in the province.

Swann said he submitted a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy request in early August asking the justice ministry for records from 2013 to 2016 of cases where an opioid drug was the cause of death or a contributing factor, documents showing the opioid drug or drugs identified in each death, and records outlining the number of deaths related to opioids where the victim was of indigenous descent. Read Full Article…

Dr. David Swann appalled at Alberta Justice’s failure to produce timely records of opioid deaths

Edmonton, AB (October 4, 2016): In early August, Dr. David Swann filed a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) request asking the Justice Ministry for some very basic information on opioid deaths in Alberta. For the years 2013 through 2016, we asked for the following:

  • Records where an opioid drug or drugs was either the cause of death or a contributing factor.
  • Records showing the opioid drug or drugs identified in each death.
  • Records detailing the number of opioid related deaths where the deceased were identified as being of indigenous or First Nations descent.

Alberta Justice has refused all requests, stating:

“We are unable to provide [these] records … as the information requested would have to be created and the workload to obtain such data would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the Chief Medical Examiner.”

“I am appalled,” said Dr. David Swann. “The Premier, the Health Minister and the Associate Health Minister have stated numerous times the government is working across ministries to collect information vital to combatting this ever growing crisis. The response from Alberta Justice tells us otherwise.”

On May 12, 2016, Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne stood in the Alberta Legislature and stated:

“Our department is working very closely with our partners in Justice and with the medical examiner to ensure that we have timely and up-to-date statistics. We are also recognizing that this goes beyond just fentanyl, that we do indeed have an opioid crisis in our province, which is why our government is also moving”

On September 7th, the same Minister told CBC the province is actively collecting data, but it’s not always visible to the public.

We now know neither of these statements are true.

Dr. Swann, a physician and public health specialist, has made repeated calls for a Public Health Emergency to be declared, thereby requiring government to collect and release information vital to addiction experts, doctors, Human Services personnel, educators and frontline emergency services.

In response, Ministry representatives have compared a Public Health Emergency (PHE)  to a police state, claimed there is no money to tackle the problem and, above all, stated there is no need for a PHE as the government has all the information and tools it needs.

“It is the families of those taken by this epidemic that will be most angry,” Dr. Swann continued. “They’ve listened to excuse after excuse from this ministry. Now, five years after this crisis was first recognized, bereaved family and friends have to confront the fact government is not even doing the basics to prevent further tragedy.”

“Albertans are dying at the rate of almost one per day and the Minister has failed to organize the collection and dissemination of vital data,” Dr. Swann stated. “It is time for Minister Hoffman and Premier Notley to acknowledge we are not following the most basic steps in stopping a public health crisis, and for Alberta Health to declare a Public Health Emergency.”