Minister must step in to save Edmonton’s only public fertility clinic

EDMONTON, AB (November 3, 2017): Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann has released the following statement on the Edmonton Regional Fertility and Women’s Endocrine Clinic at the Royal Alexandra Hospital:

“Yesterday, I was immediately concerned when we were contacted by email raising concerns about the closure of the Edmonton Regional Fertility and Women’s Endocrine Clinic at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

“My staff reached out to AHS communications and to the Minister of Health, but did not receive a reply. However, later that evening, a document surfaced on Twitter appearing to confirm this rumour.

“Today, I join with affected patients and the Friends of Medicare in expressing my displeasure with this decision, and I am calling on Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman to step up for public health care and step in to save this clinic.

“According to the federal government, roughly 16 per cent, or 1 in 6, of couples in Canada experience infertility. This number has doubled since the 1980s. In Alberta, the cost associated with fertility treatments are completely borne by patients.

“That is why, prior to the 2015 provincial election, Alberta Liberals identified infertility funding as a major policy priority and recognized that funding of fertility treatments such as Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) was necessary to ensure families who require treatment have reasonable and fair access to treatment.

“The decision to close this public fertility clinic is unfair and puts unreasonable additional demands on Albertans who simply want the chance to have a family by natural birth.

“Not only does the Minister need to save this clinic, but the NDP must do more to help Albertans facing infertility in the public health care system, instead of offloading them onto the private sector.”


Spectre of dark money haunts Alberta political landscape

EDMONTON, AB (October 31, 2017): Alberta Liberals are seeking to exorcise the spectre of dark money currently haunting Alberta’s political landscape.

“Alberta politics is being possessed by political action committees,” says Liberal MLA David Swann. “Unregulated third-party fundraising and spending has political parties and leadership contests firmly in its clutches.

“We need to drive a stake into its heart so that it cannot suck the lifeblood of our democracy: the ability of Albertans alone to decide who represents them.”

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan first raised the issue of political action committees (PACs) in June 2017, calling on the NDP government to take bold action to reduce the impact of dark money on Alberta’s political processes. He repeated his call in July, in response to the release of Jason Kenney’s leadership financial statements.

The NDP government repeatedly refused to address the issue, and in his pre-session news conference, Government House Leader Brain Mason admitted PACs are not on the NDP legislative agenda this fall sitting.

“Perhaps the NDP has its own skeletons in the closet when it comes to PACs, which would explain why it is dragging its feet,” says Swann. “Alberta Liberals have no such fears and are boldly lighting the way against this shadowy threat.”

Swann’s Bill 214 will seek to define what constitutes a political action committee, expand restrictions on third-party activities beyond the limited category of advertising, and subject PACs to the same election finance rules as every other corporation, union, and individual.


Statement on announcement of approval of safe injection sites in Calgary

CALGARY, AB (October 27, 2017): Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement in reaction to the government’s announcement on supervised injection sites in Calgary today:

“Calgary is the city that has been hardest-hit by Alberta’s opioid crisis. As such, harm reduction measures like safe consumption sites is welcome news. And, certainly, the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre is an excellent choice for this important work.

“Finally, we are seeing this critical service that is long overdue. These sites will undoubtedly improve safety and save lives.”

“However, one is not enough, we need more of these harm reduction and treatment measures in Calgary and throughout the province, especially in smaller urban centres.

“We also need more culturally appropriate services since Indigenous peoples are a significantly impacted community.

“When nearly two lives are lost each day to this scourge, there is a clear need to move more quickly and effectively.

“We need to increase and integrate more resource if we hope to get ahead of this crisis.”


Health and safety of farm and ranch workers must be Government’s priority

CALGARY, AB (October 26, 2017): Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says the NDP need to ensure farm and ranch workers get further protections following today’s release of the technical working groups’ occupational health and safety reports.

“This must be about protecting the lives and livelihoods of farm and ranch workers and their families, not just the business concerns of the agricultural industry,” says Swann. “Changes need to be aimed at enhancing safety and equity for these marginalized workers.

“For example, there needs to be a service centre dedicated solely to farm and ranch workers to help them understand their rights and protections. Fear of reprisal is a big concern for the workers when it comes to reporting an injury or refusing an unsafe practice.”

Last spring, Swann criticized the NDP government when it exempted farm and ranch workers from mandatory rest periods and overtime in Bill 17, the Fair and Family-Friendly Workplaces Act, which Swann sought to amend twice, but the NDP refused.

“The NDP chose politics over people when it denied farmers and ranchers the same basic rights and benefits as every other worker in Alberta,” says Swann. “It was a big step back for a party that is supposed to support labour rights.

“The technical working groups gave the NDP some degree of political cover, but further action is needed now, especially since conservative factions are eager to turn back the clocks on these issues.”

Swann has been a tireless advocate for farm and ranch workers’ rights and safety. Recently, he wrote to the Ministers of Labour and Agriculture and Forestry to improve labour rules, regulations and practices in Alberta’s agricultural sector.

“It took us decades to come this far,” says Swann. “We cannot stop or turn back now.

“Farm and ranch workers deserve more workplace protections, safety standards and inspections need to be applied consistently to all equipment, and agricultural injuries and deaths need to be investigated regardless of where they occur and who is involved.”


Statement from Dr. David Swann on supervised consumption site approvals

Calgary, AB (October 18, 2017): Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann released the following statement in reaction to the approval of supervised consumption sites in Edmonton and Lethbridge:

“These approvals are welcome news. I have long called for harm-reduction measures to be implemented in this province as a key component of a coordinated plan to manage the steadily worsening opioid crisis.

“However, the continued delays are deeply disappointing. I find myself asking: if federal approval was the only hold-up for a supervised consumption site, why the months-long gap between the site being approved and opening its doors?

“The lack of sites for Calgary, where opioid overdoses continue to claim the most lives, is troubling. As I’ve said before, access to harm reduction measures must be further expanded. While I’m glad to see a site opening in Lethbridge, other smaller urban centres and rural areas, where wait times are still too long and mental health care much less available, are badly in need of these facilities.”


Reflections on Serenity

Opinion/Editorial by Dr. David Swann, MLA Calgary-Mountain View

For almost 9 months, I have been part of the Ministerial Panel on Child Intervention, which has been hearing from families and children who have been involved in the child intervention process at some stage or another.

This experience has done much to heighten my admiration and respect for the many front-line workers in the Children’s Services department, who are sent into extremely complex situations and must make extremely difficult decisions about the safety and well-being of the children involved.
It is also brought me closer to the grief these children and their families feel after having come in contact with the system.

All of us are concerned and seeking answers such as: how does a compassionate, well-intentioned move meant to keep children from harm ultimately end in their death, and how can we stop this from happening again?

These were the very questions brought to the forefront in the tragic case of Serenity, a four year-old Indigenous child, who died three years ago while in the care of a foster family. Her death triggered a two-fold inquiry aimed at improving the death review process and reducing the need to remove children from their homes in the first place.

While analyzing these issues, a troubling fact emerged, which is that Indigenous children make up the vast majority of people who are brought into the child intervention system – approximately 7,000 of the 10,000 children currently in government care are Indigenous.

Two years ago, as the Co-chair of the Mental Health Review Committee, I heard similar stories about weaknesses in Alberta’s mental health system, and, once again, Indigenous people were among those who were struggling the most.

We have also seen similar statistics in the criminal justice, social housing, and health systems. But, why?

One of the main reasons can be found in the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC). It identified the ongoing legacies from the terrible trauma of residential schools as perpetuating these inescapable cycles of poverty, violence, addiction and illness.

The report shows, in order to have a reasonable chance at success, Indigenous peoples must have self-determination and truly be able to influence decisions made about them and their families, and that these decisions must honour and reinforce their cultural identities. Not surprisingly, this finding was echoed in the two provincial reviews I have been a part of.

This is a tall order, especially since our modern society is creating many additional sources of stress, which even relatively healthy people are struggling to overcome.

Is it possible that through a joint commitment to each other’s well-being both cultures can be healed? Can a positive exchange of values and a spirit of humility today replace and repair the negative colonial interactions of the past?  It can, and it must. Besides, what other choice do we have?

Our two cultures got to where we are in the 21st Century together, and must find a way to move forward together. After all, we are all treaty people.


Condo Act regulations should allow more stakeholder input, clarity

Calgary, AB (October 12, 2017): Alberta Liberals say the final version of the Condominium Property Act regulations should allow for more stakeholder input and clarify areas of concern.

“After many years, several different ministers, and two governing parties, I am pleased the province is finally moving ahead on updating Alberta’s condominium legislation,” says David Swann,” However, now that we have come this far, we cannot afford to make mistakes by rushing this across the finish line. We need to take the time to get it right.

Alberta Liberals have been hearing from constituents and stakeholders seeking clarity about the dispute resolution system between condo boards, property management companies and individual owners, as well as how changes to the Alberta Human Rights Act will affect adult-only condominiums.

“There are many unanswered questions,” says Swann. “The government needs to be upfront with Albertans and put everything it is planning on the table for discussion before moving ahead.”

Orders in Council released yesterday indicate that several sections of the Condominium Property Act have been proclaimed, without releasing the draft regulations for public input, as Dr. Swann requested this month in a letter to the Minister of Service Alberta.

Likewise, the Alberta Condo Act Team (ACAT) recently surveyed 162 provincial and municipal representatives and received only three responses, two of which came from ministerial offices and were classified as “non-responsive.” ACAT said in an email that only the Alberta Liberals provided a credible response:

“Dr. David Swann, MLA, Calgary-Mountain View, Alberta Liberal Opposition Leader, provided the one and only single credible response.  Dr. Swann took specific, observable and measurable action by writing to Minister McLean in support of our condo owner advocacy work and our Improvement Ideas.”

Dr. June A Donaldson, ACAT 
“While the views of industry are undoubtedly important, there are more voices that need to be heard,” says Swann. “The government should listen to the suggestions made by interest groups such as the Alberta Condo Act Team with the same intensity and give them equal standing in the consultation process.”


Opposition plan to privatize health care is wrong for Alberta

Calgary, AB (September 30, 2017): Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann has released the following statement regarding the UCP’s plans to privatize health care:

“Those who have a better understanding of how health care works in Alberta know that introducing more private options at this time is wrongheaded. In fact, experience has taught us that the profit motive has not served us well in health care. A properly managed public system can and will deliver a higher quality of care for a lower cost.

“Before making drastic, fundamental changes to health care deliver, Alberta first needs to address the systemic issues from increasing physician and pharmaceutical costs, unnecessary waste and bureaucracy, to long waits at every stage along the spectrum: primary, acute and continuing care.

“The issue of wait times stems directly from the fact that there is a severe lack of investment in disease and injury prevention and a chronic underinvestment in public community care and home care.

“The Health Quality Council of Alberta’s Focus on Emergency Departments website clearly indicates that acute care facilities are consistently running near capacity, at times overcapacity, due to the exceedingly high number of alternate level of care patients.

“Long waits and surgery cancellations are a direct result of acute care hospitals being used to warehouse patients who are better served elsewhere. The NDP has failed to deliver on its pledge to build 2,000 new public long-term care spaces. This is just the first step in the process of getting caught up on our backlogs, which it still hasn’t taken.

“Until the government address these root causes, no amount of investment in public or private service providers will alleviate this problem.

“Alberta Liberals know how to fix health care by making these strategic investments and eliminating waste. It is certainly not by asking the sick to pay more or setting up a systematic queue-jumping scheme.

“Albertans should reject the UCP based on this proposal alone. It is not in line with our values as a society, and it will ultimately exacerbate the challenges in our universal health care system.”


MEDIA ADVISORY: David Swann to participate in CACHC Conference

Calgary, AB (September 26, 2017): Alberta Liberal MLA for Calgary – Mountain View and Co-Chair of the Alberta Mental Health Review, Dr. David Swann, will participate in a plenary session of the Canadian Association of Community Health Centres (CACHC) Conference tomorrow morning.

Dr. Swann will open the session by presenting relevant insights and recommendations from the Alberta Mental Health Committee’s report: Valuing Mental Health. Following his presentation, he will join a panel discussion on mental health care in Canada and the role of Community Health Centres.

Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Time: 10:20 – 11:30 a.m.
Location: Willow Room, Sheraton Four Points Calgary Airport
2875 Sunridge Way NE, Calgary, AB  T1Y 7K7

For more information about the conference, visit: https://www.cachc.ca/2017conference/


Statement on International Overdose Awareness Day, 2017

Calgary, AB (August 31, 2017): Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann released the following statement for International Overdose Awareness Day:

“Today I join far too many Albertans in mourning those whose lives were cut short by drug overdoses, specifically fentanyl.

“With the skyrocketing pace of overdose deaths due to the ongoing opioid crisis, it is easy to get caught up in the numbers and lose track of the real cost in life and suffering.

“People struggling with addictions are not just junkies – each one is someone’s sibling, someone’s friend, someone’s child. Every death plunges a community into grief.

“On this day we remember those who have died of drug overdose not as statistics, not as addicts, but as fellow humans. We must work in their memory to break the stigma surrounding this disease, and make sure that those struggling with addiction in the future have the help they need.

“Of course, the single greatest way to raise overdose awareness would be for the NDP government to declare a state of emergency in response to the opioid crisis – something it has refused to do despite repeated calls from the opposition and stakeholders such as Moms Stop the Harm and Changing the Face of Addiction.

“Declaring a state of emergency would send a signal to every Albertan about the seriousness of the issue itself and the government’s commitment to putting all resources at its disposal to stop the needless deaths of so many of our friends and family.”