2018-19 Budget: Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Liberal MLA David Swann say the NDP is gambling away Albertans’ future

The NDP Government continues to spend away the future of Albertans, their children and grandchildren with a staggering $96 billion of debt by 2023.

Speaking on the 2018-19 Budget, David Khan said, “Instead of getting off the Resource Revenue Roller Coaster, the NDP just bought a ticket for the front seat. Albertans are being asked to hold their breath and hang on for a wild ride.

“Albertans are facing another massive $9 billion deficit this year and almost $9 billion again in 2019.

“The NDP is spending without corresponding revenue and spending on the wrong things. The money isn’t going to reduce class sizes. It’s not going to support AISH recipients and vulnerable Albertans. Instead, the NDP is doubling down on our volatile oil and gas sector with corporate welfare such as the announced billion-dollar partial upgrader boondoggle and the Energy Diversification Act. Many Albertans are being left behind as the debt skyrockets ahead.”

David Swann added, “To make matters worse, we are paying almost $2 billion every year in interest costs to service the provincial debt.  How many schools would that pay for? How many nurses would that hire? How many services could that have provided to the citizens of this province?

“I am encouraged by the increases in funding to address the EMS, mental health and opioid crises. However, the massive health budget needs to be managed more effectively.”

The NDP Government says it hopes to eliminate the deficit in 5-6 years, gambling on hypothetical future revenue from an energy project that is still in limbo – the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. There is no guarantee if or when this project will get built.

Khan concluded, “You can’t take phantom revenue to the bank and spend it. We must reform our tax system to pay for the services Albertans need today.

“Albertans deserve a sensible financial plan, not an uncontrolled plunge into staggering debt.”

David Khan and David Swann are available for media interviews.


Liberal MLA David Swann and Liberal Leader David Khan says EMS Union (HSAA) data shows systemic crisis

Liberal MLA David Swann says, “The NDP Government should immediately boost frontline resources for EMS across Alberta.”

“AHS statistics show EMS events are up almost 19% over 5 years but there has been only a 2.9% increase in new ambulances and 3.4% increase in new full-time equivalent paramedics.”

“EMS is struggling to meet day-to-day demands of Albertans and the situation is escalating.”

“The opioid crisis is only making the crisis worse and lives are at stake.”

“When ambulances cannot reach patients in a timely fashion the safety of those patients is put at risk.”

Liberal Leader David Khan says, “There are more than 63,000 extra EMS calls over the past 5 years and EMS is stretched to the limits to handle the needs of over 500,000 new Albertans.”

“The NDP Government must not only provide additional resources but improve the efficiency of the system with paramedics spending 650,000 hours per year in ER awaiting patient transfers to nursing staff.”

David Swann is available for interviews at 1:15 pm on the “INS” at the Alberta Legislature. He is also available by phone or Skype.

David Khan is available for interview by phone or Skype.

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For more information, contact:

Keegan Wynychuk
Alberta Liberal Opposition
Tel: 780.644.7719
Cell: 780.919.3158
liberal.communications@assembly.ab.ca


EMS workers spend many unproductive hours waiting in hospital hallways: survey

RYAN RUMBOLT (HTTPS://CALGARYHERALD.COM/AUTHOR/RCRUMBOLTPOSTMEDIA)

Emergency Medical Services employees in Alberta say more can be done to cut down on patient transfers, hallway wait times and ambulance “red alerts.”

The Liberals conducted an anonymous survey of Alberta paramedics this summer. Gary Bobrovitz, spokesperson for the party, said copies of the survey were given to the EMS union for distribution to members.

David Khan, Liberal party leader, shared the results with EMS workers and Calgarians at a panel on Thursday. Bobrovitz said the crowd of attendees was small but included at least a few EMS workers.

The survey findings helped the party draft a number of EMS improvement recommendations to the NDP, calling on the province to reduce overtime hours, lengthy waits for patient handover in hospital while bolstering the community paramedic program.

Over 100 EMS staff responded to the survey anonymously to avoid workplace repercussions, the Liberal party said. And while Bobrovitz said some of the results are “largely anecdotal,” the numbers show EMS members have ongoing concerns with the level of service they can provide and long patient transfer wait times.

The survey summary shows 57.3 per cent of those surveyed believe hallway wait times have increased since they had begun working for EMS. Another 28.2 per cent of respondents believed the wait times were unchanged, with only 9.7 per cent believing wait times have gone down.

The Liberals’ data showed paramedics spent more than 650,000 hours in 2016 waiting to transfer care of patients to hospital staff. EMS staff also clocked more than 135,000 hours of overtime that year, for an estimated $10 million in additional wages at the taxpayers’ expense.

In the survey, EMS workers identified long hallway waits for patient hand over “as a source of delayed response times,” are “impacting the quality of care they were able to deliver,” and are having “a negative impact” on relationships with other healthcare workers and on their “quality of care.”

Workers also said the long waits have “led to red alerts that have forced ambulances out of surrounding areas to cover the Calgary region.”

The Liberals say those surveyed identified a lack of beds, a lack of communication between facilities, and patients who don’t require emergency care using emergency services as possible causes for the long waits.

As far as solutions, workers said more fast track zones, having a doctor present at triage and more long term care options to free up beds could cut down on wait times and take pressure off frontline hospital staff.

In addition to the survey, the Liberals also set up a hotline this summer for EMS workers and citizens to anonymously report their EMS concerns. “In regards to the response from citizens, individuals highlighted increased wait times, as well as issues with provision of care,” the summary reads.

“Individuals spoke about their experiences in the case of some who waited a long time to have their call answered or others whose provision of care was not patient-centred.”

Health Minister Sarah Hoffman criticized the hotline for “directing patient and frontline feedback” away from AHS’s feedback line “and toward their own political party.”

The province increased funding for EMS by $23 million in its 2018 budget and has “committed to creating 2,000 long term and dementia care spaces by 2019,” Hoffman said in a statement.

Albertans with EMS feedback should contact the AHS Patient Feedback team by calling 1-855-550-2555.

Updated: October 5, 2018

Calgary EMS ambulance P O S T M E D I A A R C H I V E S

RRumbolt@postmedia.com (mailto:RRumbolt@postmedia.com)

On Twitter: @RCRumbolt (https://twitter.com/RCRumbolt)


Dr. David Swann on the EMS crisis in Alberta – The Homestretch

On the Homestretch: “The Alberta Liberals say Emergency Medical Services are in crisis in our province and more needs to be done. The party surveyed patients and EMS workers to get their thoughts on care. They will be talking about the results and some possible solutions this evening at a public forum. Dr David Swann is a Liberal MLA for Calgary Mountain View. He joined host Doug Dirks on the line.”

October 3rd: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1337022531587


Alberta Liberals call on NDP to fix EMS, emergency room ‘crisis’

RYAN RUMBOLT (HTTPS://CALGARYHERALD.COM/AUTHOR/RCRUMBOLTPOSTMEDIA)

The provincial Liberals are calling on the NDP to fix issues leading to increased wait times in Alberta’s emergency rooms.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan said data collected by the party through freedom of information requests show “systemic issues” and “mismanagement” of the health-care system are causing a shortage of available staff, ambulances and hospital beds.

Numbers from the Liberals show there were 35 ambulance “Code Reds” (where no ambulance is available for 911 calls) in Alberta every month of 2016, with Calgary and Edmonton suffering the most frequent ambulance shortages.

That’s an average of more than one Code Red in the province every day in every month in 2016. “It’s just unacceptable in our province, in our society, to have ambulances not available for 911 calls,” Khan said in Calgary on Tuesday. “We all expect in that type of emergency — when we’re calling 911 — there’s going to be an ambulance there.”

In the event of a Code Red, ambulances from outside the city are often called in to assist local crews and take on emergency calls.

The Liberals’ data showed paramedics spent more than 650,000 hours that same year waiting to transfer care of patients to hospital staff. EMS staff also clocked more than 135,000 hours of overtime, for an estimated $10 million in additional wages at the taxpayers’ expense.

In Alberta, EMS workers waited an average of one hour for patient handover to ER staff. Khan said that means pulling a two-person crew and their ambulance out of service until the patient is transferred.

Those same handover times in the U.K. are an average of 15 minutes, according to the Liberals.

Calgary MLA Dr. David Swann said Alberta emergency rooms are in “crisis,” and Khan challenged the province to improve ER handover efficiency by hiring additional “intermediate” triage workers and adopting new technologies to “streamline” the process.

“In the short term we need more community care after regular hours, as well as paramedics and intermediate ER health care providers . . . Long term, we need to expand the continuing and community care to free up bed spaces,” Khan said.

The Liberals also identified issues with EMS and ER patients experiencing long hallway wait times because beds are being used by patients who would benefit more from community care.

Swann said these patients, called “bed blockers” by some in the healthcare field, are an additional drain on the healthcare system.

He said improving and expanding the AHS community paramedic program by hiring more paramedics — and allowing EMS crews to decline patient transport in select cases — could cut down on bed blockers and wait times in Alberta hospitals.

But the NDP said they have already taken steps to address issues raised by Khan and the Liberals, including a commitment to create 2,000 beds for long-term dementia patients by 2019 and expanding the community paramedic program.

The Liberals conducted an anonymous survey of Alberta paramedics this summer, something Health Minister Sarah Hoffman said is “directing patient and frontline feedback away from established processes within AHS and toward their own political party.”

Swann said the survey results will be released on Thursday and show EMS workers are facing personal and professional issues due to staffing challenges. AHS said paramedics work overtime as a “last resort … to ensure patient care is not impacted.”

Albertans with concerns about EMS services can contact the AHS Patient Feedback line at 1-855-550-2555.

RRumbolt@postmedia.com (mailto:RRumbolt@postmedia.com)

On Twitter: @RCRumbolt (https://twitter.com/RCRumbolt)

Updated: October 2, 2018

C A L G A R Y H E R A L D


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.”


Beakerhead 2018!

Beakerhead will official be on in Calgary between September 19 – 23, 2018! The official Beakerhead program lineup is available online for all ticketed events. This year’s extravaganza will include remarkable spectacles of art and science, unique activities, and more than 50 distinct events – many of which are free, but still require registration to get tickets.

Four of these fantastic events will be taking place right here in Calgary Mountain View! Follow the links below for more details!

DungBeetle

LEDdance

Cryptocurrency clinic

Chocolatsaurus