Alberta Liberals propose solutions to NDP Government’s EMS Crisis

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA Dr. David Swann issue the following release.

Alberta EMS is in crisis. Data has revealed long hallway wait times, spiraling costs and operational issues:

● Paramedics spent 650,000 hours waiting for patients to be transferred to hospital staff in 2016.
● The average wait time is 1 hour for EMS patient transfer – 4 times longer than the United Kingdom standard of 15 minutes.
● EMS staff worked 135 000 hours overtime in 2016 costing Albertan taxpayers an estimated $10 million in extra wages. It is adversely affecting the health and morale of EMS staff. It may be impacting patient care.
● From September 2016 to September 2017 there were 35 Red Alerts in Alberta per month.

Swann stated “The Alberta Liberal Opposition was tired of waiting for AHS and the NDP Government to take action after we raised this important issue in the Legislature Spring Session. To begin building solutions the Alberta Liberal Opposition launched the EMS Hotline and Survey this summer.

“We’ve used this data and consultation with experts to construct responsible solutions for this ongoing crisis.’’

Khan stated “The NDP Government’s response has been unacceptable. Hallway wait times are out of control and affecting the quality of care. Some of this is due to systemic issues in our healthcare system. Some of this is due to mismanagement. All of it must be fixed.”

“Short term we need more community care paramedics and intermediate ER health care providers coupled with improved technology to help create streamlined hand over procedures.

“Long term we need to expand continuing and community care to free up bed spaces. We also need to launch a public awareness campaign so Albertans better understand when they should or should not go to ER.”

The Alberta Liberals have identified the following problems:

1. Bed block: EMS and ER patients are stuck waiting for admission because beds in the hospital are full. EMS providers have to wait with their patients and that takes 2 person crews and their ambulance temporarily off the street.

2. High demand in ERs: ER is increasingly full of patients needing to be triaged and treated. EMS have to stay and care for their patients because there are not enough health care providers in ER to manage them.

3. High demand on EMS: EMS patient volume is increasing and there are not enough EMS providers to meet that demand.

The Alberta Liberals have put forward the following solutions:

1. Intermediate ER health care providers: ERs should be equipped with additional health care providers capable of rapid triage and short-term patient management. These could include permanent on-site EMS staff (no ambulance) or nurses. EMS crews bringing in patients could hand them over quicker and get back on the road quicker.

2. More community paramedics: Additional EMS providers could be tasked with in-home triage and treat non-life-threatening cases in the community. tHis can also involve transport to an appropriate lower acuity setting such as a walk-in clinic or urgent/intermediate care centre, or refer to family doctor or pharmacist. This will improve EMS capacity and reduce ER congestion.

3. Improve EMS-ER handover efficiency: Accommodating patients in the ER should be the responsibility of the hospital. We need to maximise the use of advanced technology and create streamlined handover procedures to boost efficiencies. This requires coordination of and cooperation by EMS and ER staff.

4. Alleviate demand on the ER: Ensure that ER is reserved for emergencies. Boost public
awareness of alternative care options including family doctor, walk-in, urgent care and pharmacists.

5. Reduce access block: Increase community and continuing care so we can safely discharge more patients sooner and open up more beds sooner for new patients.


Alberta Liberals say NDP Minimum Wage hike shortchanges the poor and small business

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann release statement on minimum wage hike:

We support boosting the Minimum Wage to $15 an hour as a stop-gap measure. But Alberta Liberals believe more can be done to help combat poverty and to alleviate business concerns.
We believe a Guaranteed Minimum Income is a better solution for Albertans.

A Minimum Income could lift all Albertans out of poverty, reduce crime and decrease emergency room visits. Alberta needs a Minimum Income pilot project. We are asking the NDP to explore this option.

Short term solutions include earned-income tax credits along with increasing the basic personal exemption from individual tax rates.

Khan stated, “Minimum wage policy is not a silver bullet for the problems of the working poor. $17.70 is the living wage for 2018 in Calgary for a family of four, with two parents working full-time, according to anti-poverty groups.

“Despite an almost 50% increase in the Minimum Wage under the NDP government, many vulnerable Albertans are living on the knife’s edge. The next unexpected car repair or medical bill can cause a financial and family crisis. The Calgary Food Bank says previous minimum wage hikes in Alberta have not done anything to reduce food bank usage.

Khan continued, “Some small business and nonprofits say they cannot afford the hike. They have been forced to reduce employees’ shifts or, even worse, lay off their staff.”

“This Government has stubbornly refused to address the legitimate concerns of employers. Steps can be taken to support the minimum wage increase and mitigate its unintended consequences.

“Business has been asking for a minimum wage differential for youth. That has been successfully implemented elsewhere, and reduces the hit to youth employment.”

Swann says, “Vulnerable Albertans are still struggling to survive pay cheque to pay cheque. That places too many families under tremendous pressure and can lead to increased stress, mental health issues and family breakdown. A living wage allows a household to meet basic needs like food, housing, utilities, transportation and clothing.

“The Government could should create a Fair Wage Commission. That proposal is underway in British Columbia. Stakeholders are developing a plan to bridge the gap between the minimum wage and the living wage. It is also addressing the legitimate concerns of the business community.”


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann call for protection of personal data used by political parties

Alberta Liberals issue the following release on Canada’s Privacy and Information Commissioners call for legislation on use of personal information by political parties

Federal and Provincial Privacy Commissioners are urging all levels of governments to enact laws that provide meaningful privacy obligations for political parties.

The Alberta Liberals strongly support this position.

Khan stated, “Albertans and Canadians must be protected. The sheer amount of personal data collected and used by political parties can lead to potential abuse. The danger is real.

“We need to get ahead of this by passing strong laws. Albertans must also have a right to access their personal information controlled by political parties. We must have a fully independent body enforcing these protections.

“I’m calling on the NDP Government to follow these recommendations and bring forward legislation before the next election. Our democracy is precious. We need to safeguard it.”

Swann stated, “Alberta Liberals continue to be leaders on democratic reform. We pushed to establish Political Action Committee (“PAC”) regulation, introducing the most comprehensive PAC regulation legislation in Canada in last fall’s sitting. We recommended strong standards on electoral reform.

“We will keep fighting for these changes. We will keep fighting for all Albertans.’’

Khan and Swann are available for interview


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann release statement on Labour Day

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann issue the following statement on Labour Day:

Swann stated, “On this day we remember the many decades of activism and sacrifice that keep us safe and healthy at work. Albertans have risked their safety and their livelihoods to make their job site a better place.”

“We know these have been tough times for Alberta workers. Alberta Liberals have their backs. We support them and are advocating for them.

“We are pushing the government to fully include paid farmworkers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the Workers’ Compensation Act, the Labour Relations Code, and the Employment Standards Code. We are also advocating to amend the Alberta’s Labour Code to allow unpaid political candidate leave with a job guarantee.”

Khan stated, “Alberta has a long history of advocacy for better worker rights. This cannot stop. Albertans deserve to be treated fairly, with respect and dignity on the job. As we enjoy our weekend, we should reflect on how we can improve safety at work, be paid a reasonable wage and have protections in case of accident.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann renew call for drug decriminalization on International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember those we have lost and spur actions to help those who can still be saved. It is particularly significant here in Alberta where we face an ongoing severe opioid crisis.

Swann stated, “Drug addiction and its link to mental health is a complex issue. It is also a deadly problem that is not being adequately resolved here in Alberta and around the world.

“We believe this is a disease, not a crime. We must treat people with this deadly illness and not punish them as offenders. Removing the stigma around this entire issue should be a priority.

“We are again calling for the decriminalization of drug possession in small amounts. This will reduce stigma and better deploy resources now being used to punish the sick. The Alberta Liberal Caucus is appealing to all three levels of Government to support this approach as part of an integrated national strategy.”

Khan stated, “Decriminalization has worked in other jurisdictions. In Portugal, deaths from drug overdoses are three per one million, well below the the EU average of 17.3 per one million. Portugal also saw a dramatic decrease in the rate of HIV infection.

“Drug decriminalization is only part of the solution for addiction and drug related deaths. The Alberta Liberals are demanding the NDP Government boost health spending beyond the current 6% of the health budget for addictions and mental health.

“Too many people are still dying. These fatalities must be stopped. We must take bold action.”


Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann releases statement on Calgary Pride

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann has issued the following statement in recognition of Calgary Pride:

“I am excited to once again join with Calgarians in celebrating LGBTQ2S+ communities.

“Alberta Liberals have led all political parties in support for LGBTQ2S+ Albertans.

“In 1994 we were the first party to call for sexual orientation to be added as a prohibited ground of discrimination to the Alberta Human Rights Act.

“In 2014 we introduced Private Member’s Bill 202 to make gay-straight alliances (GSAs) mandatory in schools where students ask for them. I was immensely proud of the changes that legislation led to.

“David Khan has continued the proud Liberal tradition on LGBTQ2S+ issues by raising issues such as improving access to hormone replacement therapy, putting an end to conversion therapy and fighting back against homophobic dog whistle politics.

“Calgarians can be proud of the progress we have made and optimistic about the progress we will continue to make. We are all helping to establish Alberta as a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTQ2S+ individuals.”


Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann releases Statement on 14th Annual Farm Workers’ Day

Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement to mark Alberta’s 14th annual Farm Worker’s Day:

“I am pleased to spend another Farm Worker’s Day celebrating the vital work every day of the year that puts food on our tables. This day also recognizes the fundamental rights and protections now offered to farm workers under the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act. There is still much work to do in realizing health and safety in agricultural operations and ensuring paid farmworkers are fairly treated. For too many years, I spent this day mourning those killed or injured on the job, and calling for the government to guarantee their basic rights to a healthy and safe workplace, and a guarantee of compensation for injury.

“I am therefore deeply disappointed that some politicians in Alberta are treating these rights as a political football, and threatening to repeal them. Alberta cannot afford to return to the last century of shame that they promise.”


Alberta Liberal MLA Dr David Swann calls for decriminalization of drugs and more resources to battle Opioid Crisis.

Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann issues statement on the Opioid Crisis:

The Opioid Crisis continues. The Calgary Fire Department responded to 144 opioid overdose calls in the month of July. That is a new record.

Swann stated, “Clearly we are not getting ahead of the curve on the Opioid Crisis. The NDP Government is spending less than 6% of the health budget on mental health and prevention. This is not adequately dealing with the issue.

Swann added, “Drug addiction is a mental illness and must be treated as such. It should not be a criminal offence. That does nothing to help deal with this illness. It’s time we join Ontario and BC as well as other jurisdictions calling for the Federal Government to decriminalize drugs and save lives. We must bring people into a system that can help them heal and recover their lives.”

“The NDP Government must also commit more resources, expand hours of care and improve physician capacity to deal with what is a life or death issue. The Mental Health Review concluded that effectively addressing this tragedy requires consistent communication between Health, Community and Social Services, Schools and Police. We need more public education. We need more safe injection sites.

“The Medical Examiner’s Office is still not providing timely death reporting on all drug overdose deaths with methamphetamine a growing threat. This is critical information needed to form effective strategies for this crisis.

Fentanyl was the leading cause of death in Alberta in 2016. More than 228 people died from fentanyl overdoses from January-May this year. Free substitute therapy and expanded hours of service are needed.

The opioid crisis is ongoing. It’s time to call this for what it is. It’s time the NDP Government declared a “Public Health State of Emergency.”


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Liberal MLA David Swann release statement on International Day of World Indigenous Peoples

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann commemorate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

This year’s theme is Indigenous People’s migration and movement.

Many Indigenous Peoples are forced to leave their homes, families and traditional ways due to extreme inequalities in funding between reserves and urban centres. They often struggle to find a better life as a result of inadequate supports and systemic prejudices.

Khan stated, “There has been significant progress over the last decade including the Alberta government’s sixties scoop apology. But, much more needs to be done to address the gross inequalities faced by Alberta’s Indigenous Peoples.

Swann stated, “On this Day we should reflect on being better partners building a brighter future for Indigenous Peoples. This must include respect among equals and for the Nation-to-Nation relationship.This must be both a celebration and a call for justice.”

Alberta was built with the enduring contributions of Indigenous Peoples. We must all pledge to build together a more equal and more inclusive Province for all Albertans.


Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and MLA David Swann release statement on Heritage Day

Alberta Liberals David Khan and David Swann issue the following joint statement:

We join with Albertans in celebrating Heritage Day. The first Monday in August recognizes the rich and diverse multinational cultures that have helped to build this great province and our wonderful country.

Khan stated, “Together we acknowledge the diversity, inclusion, tolerance and freedom that are the hallmarks of our proud democracy and our vibrant society.

Swann added. “Our rich mosaic includes people of all religions, ages, sexual orientations, gender identities and ethnicities, including the Indigenous Peoples who first called this land home. They all contribute to the quality of life we enjoy and help build a better future for our children and our grandchildren.”

Alberta Liberals are proud to support and encourage these values on behalf of all the citizens in this province and throughout this country.

Happy Heritage Day – Enjoy the Long Weekend.