Increased funding for Metta Clinic necessary to support transgender youth

Calgary, AB (February 15, 2017): Alberta Liberal Leader Dr. David Swann is urging Health Minister Sarah Hoffman to support transgender and gender diverse youth by increasing funding to the Metta Clinic.

The Metta Clinic at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary is one of the only resources available for transgender youth in Alberta. The clinic only receives enough funding to operate for one day a month, adding up to a meagre two weeks per year.

The growing demand for the clinic’s services has resulted in wait times for access to care of almost three years, during which time, these youth are at risk of severe mental health challenges, suicidal and self-harming behaviours, and threats of harassment and abuse.

“These wait times are simply unacceptable,” says Swann. “The kind of support that the Metta Clinic provides is exactly what these youth need at such a critical time in their physical, mental and social development.”

“I look forward to a promise of increased funding for this important work in the upcoming provincial budget.”

Alberta Liberals are proud supporters of the LGBTQ community, recently championing the issue of making gay-straight alliances (GSAs) mandatory in schools where students request them.

Swann is now calling on the NDP government to take the next step in improving the lives of Alberta’s transgender and gender diverse youth by increasing funding for this important dedicated clinical support.


Government response to opioid crisis falls short: Swann

Calgary, AB (February 7, 2017): Alberta Liberal Leader, Dr. David Swann, says the NDP government’s response to the opioid crisis falls short of what is necessary, and renews his call for more information and coordinated action.

“Government information and action continue to be inadequate despite these new measures,” says Swann. “We are lacking timely information and are dealing with this in a piecemeal fashion when what is needed is a coordinated and comprehensive approach.”

Swann has been pressuring the government to release more data surrounding the overall impact of this crisis since last fall, when he called on the province to declare a public health state of emergency.

“Quarterly reporting on deaths resulting from overdoses is not sufficient,” says Swann. “We need a comprehensive look at the financial and human costs of the current approach on our emergency, medical, social and justice systems.”

While Swann applauds the government’s willingness to enhance treatment options in the critical stages of opioid abuse, he stresses more government leadership is required to improve communication and coordinate action.

“The NDP government has not put enough priority or urgency on this issue,” says Swann. “In addition to naloxone, it must ensure greater cooperation, more information sharing, and a better understanding of what is and what is not working.”


Information and Privacy Commissioner’s re-appointment should prompt more action on transparency

Calgary, AB (February 2, 2017): Today Dr. David Swann praised the recent re-appointment of Jill Clayton as Information and Privacy Commissioner. The Order in Council was issued on January 31st, appointing Ms. Clayton for a term lasting to 2022.

“As Commissioner, Ms. Clayton has been a champion of accountability and strong voice for public access to information,” said Swann. “I am glad to see the office remaining under her capable direction.”

With many government departments much delayed in their obligations under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP), Ms. Clayton has a big job ahead of her.

The Ministry of Justice, despite being specifically singled out by Ms. Clayton in the past,  routinely fails to meet legally mandated deadlines. An example of this can be found in its reply to a recent FOIP request, in which they warned that, “due to a high volume of requests at this office,” their response time may exceed the 30 day requirement.

Swann is calling on the government to use Jill Clayton’s reappointment to reaffirm its commitment to openness and transparency. In particular, Service Alberta should restart the practice of posting FOIP statistics publicly, which it discontinued in 2013.

“I look forward to seeing the changes Ms. Clayton will effect – not only in the Ministry of Justice, but in the Government of Alberta as a whole,” said Swann.


Dr. David Swann challenges Albertans to break down stigma for Eating Disorder Awareness Week

Calgary, AB (February 1, 2017): Dr. David Swann released the following statement to mark Eating Disorder Awareness Week:

“Most of us take for granted the privilege of being able to enjoy a good meal without fear and anxiety. Eating is a universal human experience, and many of us value the simple pleasure of our favourite comfort food.

“For the many Albertans that suffer from an eating disorder, however, food is a source of angst and mental discomfort from which they cannot escape. Earlier identification and better counselling resources in our health system can help those afflicted recover; the most important thing we can do as citizens, however, is reach out with compassion and support.

“As with any mental illness, the greatest barrier to treatment of an eating disorder is fear of being dismissed or shunned. Only by breaking down the stigma surrounding eating disorders can we remove this barrier.”

 


Dr. David Swann celebrates Black History Month

Calgary, AB (February 1, 2017): Dr. David Swann released the following statement on the beginning of Black History Month:

“I am pleased that Black History Month will finally be officially recognized by the Government of Alberta. The black community in Alberta has contributed greatly to our province’s history, and Black History Month is an opportunity for us to educate ourselves on their stories.

“With xenophobia and discrimination on the rise in the world today, Black History Month reminds us that our diversity is our strength. The achievements of black Canadians throughout Alberta’s and Canada’s history, often in the face of pervasive racism, show that the colour of one’s skin is never – and should never – be a barrier to greatness.”