Dr. David Swann mourns the tragedy in Sainte-Foy

Calgary, AB (January 30, 2017): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement in reaction to last night’s shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec in Sainte-Foy:

“Words too often fail us during tragedies like these. My heart goes out to the victims of this despicable and unthinkable act, and the loved ones they leave behind.

“It is heartbreaking to see such malice directed at innocent people in their time of prayer. I join with those across the country in standing in solidarity with our Muslim neighbours and friends, and condemn the hatred and bigotry which birthed this heinous attack.”

Dr. David Swann celebrates Chinese New Year

Calgary, AB (January 28, 2017): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement to mark the beginning of the Spring Festival, which celebrates the Chinese New Year:

“Today begins a week of celebration, as the Chinese community both here in Alberta and around the world ushers out the old year and welcomes a new one. According to the Chinese Zodiac, we are entering the year of the Fire Rooster; I hope that Chinese Albertans enter it with the confidence and leadership they share with their zodiac sign.

“On behalf of myself and the Alberta Liberals, I wish our Chinese neighbours and friends prosperity and good fortune in this new year. 恭喜发财, 萬事如意!”

Dr. David Swann urges Health Minister to reconsider injury prevention cuts

Calgary, AB (January 27, 2017): Dr. David Swann wrote to the Health Minister today to express his concerns over funding cuts to the University of Alberta’s Injury Prevention Centre.

Last year, the Centre’s funding was abruptly reduced from $1,585,500 to $1 million – a dramatic cut of nearly 37 per cent. Prior to that, funding had remained stagnant for almost ten years.

Dr. Swann is calling on the Health Minister to reinstate or at least boost funding for the Injury Prevention Centre in Budget 2017, given the effectiveness of prevention initiatives in promoting health and reducing health care and economic costs.


Dr. David Swann commemorates International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Calgary, AB (January 27, 2017): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement on International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust:

“Today we remember those deliberately and horrifically murdered by the Nazi state. Millions of people were relentlessly persecuted and killed for their religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation by Adolf Hitler and his government.

“This is a day where we remind ourselves that hatred and prejudice has a cost that is all too often paid in lives. When we look back on these atrocities, we must keep in mind that ‘never again’ is more than just a hope, it is a commitment – to standing up for the rights of those that are different and refusing to be divided by fear.”

Dr. David Swann welcomes US executive order advancing Keystone XL pipeline

Calgary, AB (January 24, 2017): Dr. David Swann welcomed today’s decision in the United States to advance Keystone XL.

“We have long been in support of pipelines to get the province’s energy resources to international markets, so long as the best environmental protections are included and First Nations communities are properly consulted.

“In light of the significant challenges Alberta has faced relative to the prolonged slump in oil prices, the importance of this project proceeding cannot be overstated. Today’s decision is a positive development for both our province and our country.”

Dr. David Swann calls for a public fatality inquiry into drug-related deaths in correctional facilities

Calgary, AB (January 23, 2017): Dr. David Swann wrote today to the Fatality Review Board to recommend that a public fatality inquiry be held regarding all deaths involving controlled substances in Alberta correctional facilities since January 1, 2012.

In the letter, Swann argues that an inquiry is urgently needed to identify present shortcomings and emerging best practices regarding preventing contraband from entering the province’s jails and remand centres; this issue has become considerably worse with the current opioid crisis, and puts inmates and staff at risk.

He also recommends that any inquiry should include a review of the staff training in mental health and addictions and medical resources available to incarcerated persons given their critical importance in reducing the demand for illegal drugs and, ultimately, death prevention.

Swann has also written to the Office of the Ombudsman to request an administrative review of the circumstances surrounding drug-related “near-deaths” in correctional facilities, since the Fatality Review Board has no mandate to investigate such cases.


Dr. David Swann reacts to today’s Government Cabinet shuffle

Calgary, AB (January 19, 2017): In reaction to the government’s Cabinet shuffle today, Dr. David Swann welcomed the dismantling of the Human Services ministry, but raised concerns about yet more upheaval and instability in the Municipal Affairs portfolio.

“I am thrilled to see the lumbering behemoth that was the Ministry of Human Services finally reduced to a manageable size,” said Swann. “This marks the end of a failed multi-year government experiment in cost cutting that has done little to improve the lives of our most vulnerable populations – especially children and families in distress.

“However, I am concerned that Minister Larivee was shifted from her position as head of Municipal Affairs as part of this change,” Swann continued. “Shaye Anderson will be the third Municipal Affairs Minister in less than two years of this government being in power. Even prior to that, the position was a veritable revolving door in the final years of the previous government. Given the importance of municipalities and the recently updated Municipal Government Act, this recurring upheaval is worrisome. So many MLAs have backgrounds in social work and would likely be capable of handling Children’s Services – why does the Municipal Affairs portfolio have to suffer to put out a political fire in Human Services?

“I congratulate Minister Anderson on his appointment to Cabinet nevertheless, and I know that Minister Larivee will do well in her new position,” Swann concluded.

Dr. David Swann proposes changes to Alberta’s electricity structure that will save billions and eliminate need to borrow to pay off PPAs

Calgary, AB (January 18th, 2017): Dr. David Swann unveiled a new policy today that will save Albertans billions of dollars in electricity costs. As well, the policy will remove the need for government to borrow to fund the liability to the Balancing Pool caused by Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) holders returning their contracts under the “Change in Law” clause.

By adjusting the way the Regulated Rate Option (RRO) is calculated (this is the rate most Albertans pay for electricity), Dr. Swann’s plan could save Albertans $700 million to 2020 and $3 billion to 2030.

The change is centred on the calculation used to determine the final price of electricity. Currently the RRO is not based on the actual cost of electricity at time of consumption (the “Pool price”), instead using a process based on a “forward price.” Adjusting the process to reflect the actual price creates a very different outcome.

“The forward price has consistently been higher than the actual wholesale price,” says Rob Spragins, a former Utilities Consumer Advocate. “Historically, using this model would have saved Albertans over $1 billion between July 2006 and June 30, 2016.”

In the fall session the government passed the Electric Utilities Amendment Act (Bill 34). This bill allows unlimited borrowing to cover the cost of PPAs returned to the Balancing Pool because of changes in government policy. The liability is estimated between $2.5 billion and $3.5 billion; if paid off by borrowing, the cost to consumers could increase from $350 million to $500 million.

“Albertans are extremely concerned with the debt loads this government is taking on,” says Swann. “Bill 34 gives the Government unlimited borrowing power to cover up their mistakes in the electricity market. The simple changes we are proposing will remove the need for this additional debt.”

The savings created by Dr. Swann’s plan would allow the Balancing Pool to pay off the PPA liability as part of its normal operations, without incurring added expense to consumers through interest payments. The proposed RRO flow-through rate would more than offset the added costs of the PPAs, and consumers would even see a net reduction in their power bills.

For example, to retire the liability of the Balancing Pool by 2020:

  Cost of Balancing Pool Liability1 RRO savings to consumers under Dr. Swann’s plan
Per Year $70-$100 $140-$160
Per Month $6.00-$8.00 $12.00-$14.00
1 Note that these figures do not include the value of settlements reached with PPA buyers; the figures have either not been released, or include carbon offsets of which the government has not declared a monetary value.

“By making this simple change,” continued Swann, “the electricity market can operate without manipulation by the government. Under the current regime, the government is taking on enormous risk and, for political reasons, avoiding passing the cost directly on to consumers. In the end, though, the cost is paid out of our pockets.”

Dr. David Swann marks 40th annual National Non-Smoking Week

Calgary, AB (January 16, 2017): Dr. David Swann issued the following statement in honour of National Non-Smoking Week:

“This week marks forty years since National Non-Smoking Week was first instituted by the Canadian Council for Tobacco Control in 1977. In that time we have witnessed a cultural shift in attitudes towards tobacco use as the dangers of its use become better known.

“I am pleased to see this progress, but there is still work to be done. As of 2013, 16% of Albertans still smoked – putting both their own health and that of those around them at risk. We must ensure that those who are trying to quit have access to support and resources, and that awareness programs are sustained so that the smoking rate continues to decline.

“I further believe that we should conduct a review of the current tax on tobacco, and perhaps raise it. The revenues could then go to prevention programs for chronic diseases, including those caused by tobacco use. The proposed Wellness Foundation through the University of Alberta would be an excellent focus.”

Dr. David Swann addresses Prime Minister’s comment on “phasing out” oil sands

Lethbridge, AB (January 13th, 2017): Dr. David Swann fully supports the oil and gas industry and call on the Prime Minister to clarify his remarks. Alberta’s oil sands industry is both environmentally responsible and generates hundreds of thousands of jobs both here and across Canada.

“All of us, including the oil and gas industry, already recognise that we are in a transition to cleaner energy,” said Swann. “In the current international economic climate the industry does not need any more uncertainty about its future. We need our Prime Minister to not only support this industry, the economic engine of the country, but to communicate that clearly.

“Given the Prime Minister’s recent pipeline approvals I believe he should be given the benefit of the doubt and a chance to clarify his remarks,” Swann concluded.