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PC Priorities: Pay us first, we’ll pay you later


EDMONTON – Today, New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley asked why it only takes 9 hours to implement taxes that will burden Alberta families – but tax credits for Alberta’s most vulnerable families won’t be implemented for at least 15 months.
 
“Not only is this double standard troubling but based on this PC government’s record when it comes to past promises on anti-poverty initiatives, we shouldn’t be surprised if the tax credit is never actually implemented.
 
During the last election, the PCs promised the Child Poverty Action Plan, which was all but abandoned as soon as the election was over.
 
“This government has squandered our resource revenue for years and now they are balancing the budget on the back of Alberta families through a Mortgage Tax, a Driving Tax, a Wedding Tax and a Death Tax to name a few. These new taxes are going to cost families now, while the family tax credit will likely be added to the list of PC broken promises,” said Notley.
 
The 2015 budget also saw the PCs cut approximately $50 million from a variety of programs aimed at protecting children at risk, in the same year that a record number of children receiving government services have died.
 
“If this government truly cared about vulnerable children and families in this province they would protect them before protecting wealthy corporations. It’s clear this government has the wrong priorities,” said Notley.
 

PC Budget - Pay more, get less

Prentice’s 2015 budget will hurt middle-income families


EDMONTON –Prentice’s 2015 budget asks regular Albertans to pay more out of pocket, while they get less of vital public services like education, health care, child protection services and post-secondary education, New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley said today.

“The PCs have not only proposed a Waiting Room Tax—today they’ve added a Driving Tax, a Mortgage Tax and a Marriage Tax. This government is willing to do anything to ensure the largest corporations continue to enjoy tax holidays and so they’re balancing the budget on the backs of regular, hard-working, Alberta families,” said Notley.

These taxes will hit working and middle income families the hardest while deliberately refusing to rollback their tax cuts for the most profitable corporations.

The 2015 provincial budget shows a total cut of approximately $1 billion to the overall health care budget, including over $300 million to patient care and $60 million to seniors drug benefits.

 “Right now people are waiting up to 70 hours to be admitted to hospital. Kid’s surgeries are being cancelled because there isn’t any room for them and hundreds of seniors are trapped in the hospital waiting for a long term care bed. Instead of doing the right thing and fixing our health care system, this government’s priority is preserving tax breaks for the most profitable corporations.

Prentice is also cutting classroom supports in K-12 by approximately $90 million. At the same time he will not hire a single new teacher for the 12,000 new students expected this year, pushing up class sizes.

“Instead of investing in the vital public services Albertans rely on, Prentice and the PCs are slashing funding to education and health care. They’re asking Alberta families to pay more and get less,” said Notley.

“It is particularly insulting that while they work so hard to defend profitable corporations, they are cutting close to $60 million dollars from child protective services. This clearly shows that this government has the wrong priorities.”

Notley responds to Prentice’s televised address


EDMONTON –New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley made the following statement tonight, in response to Jim Prentice's televised address:

"Today Mr. Prentice admitted to Albertans that PC governments have failed – failed to budget properly and failed to protect public services.

But Mr. Prentice didn’t announce plans to fix these problems.
Instead, he announced they would continue to stand by while the health care crisis gets worse.

On top of that, at a time when Albertans are worried about their jobs, Jim Prentice wants them to pay an extra tax, out of their own pockets, for healthcare.

Without an improvement in services, anyone who has sat in a hospital with a loved one waiting for care, knows that Mr. Prentice’s proposal tonight is nothing more than a Waiting Room Tax.

It’s clear that this government is intent on forcing Albertans to pay more and get less while large profitable banks and corporations keep their generous tax breaks.

Jim Prentice is out of touch with Alberta families.

The government’s own survey shows that Albertans want to see corporations pay their fair share, but the PCs are refusing to cancel their corporate tax giveaways.

Leadership means listening to Albertans, but Jim Prentice is ignoring them.

He wants to balance the budget on the backs of Alberta families, while his corporate friends keep their generous tax breaks and luxury golf courses.

That’s not the kind of leadership Albertans need or expect.

We think it’s time for a new kind of leadership that listens to Albertans and puts their families first."

 

Hundreds trapped in hospital beds waiting for long term care


CALGARY – Today, New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley released documents obtained through FOIP that show the number of people waiting in hospital for a long term care bed to open has gone up by over 40 percent across Alberta from December 2013 to December 2014
 
“These are our parents and grandparents who deserve to live out their lives comfortably and instead they’re trapped in hospital beds because there is no space for them in the community,” said Notley.
 
“This PC government has failed to plan and provide for our aging population and their neglect to build the necessary facilities has caused stress for families while also imposing damaging pressure throughout the whole health care system.  The utter failure to provide timely Emergency Services is the ultimate measure of this government’s failure to provide adequate care for our seniors,” said Notley.
 
The data shows the number of patients waiting in hospital for a Long Term Care bed has steadily increased since January 2012, and been consistently over 400 since August 2014.
 
The number of patients waiting for a Long Term Care beds in Calgary is especially concerning, increasing from 39 patients waiting in December 2012 to 181 waiting in December 2014.
 
“The PCs have squandered our unprecedented resource revenue and allowed these vital services to deteriorate. This is not a system that can sustain funding cuts. We need a government that is willing to take care of our seniors and ensure everyone has access to the care they need when they need it,” said Notley.

Documents show patients waiting over 70 hours to be admitted


EDMONTON –New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley released documents today showing patients are waiting over 70 hours to be admitted in one of Edmonton’s major hospitals and over 40 hours in other Alberta emergency departments.

“These are the patients who are facing serious illnesses and injuries and need to be admitted to the hospital for treatment and instead they’re spending days waiting in emergency departments for a bed to open. That is unacceptable,” said Notley.
 
The PCs set an 8 hour admission benchmark for themselves as part of the 2010 5 Year Health Plan. Now, five years later internal AHS data shows not a single hospital in Alberta is meeting that target.
 
In the first quarter of 2015, wait times for the 90th percentile of patients are frightening.

  • Sturgeon Community Hospital: 71.9 hours
  • Grey Nuns Community Hospital: 50.4 hours
  • Misericordia Community Hospital: 42.8 hours
  • Red Deer Regional Hospital: 34 hours
  • Queen Elizabeth II Hospital: 33.5 hours

“This government has failed to make health care a priority in this province and Albertans are paying for it. This data proves that whatever the PCs are doing isn’t working and in some cases, it’s actually making the problem worse,” said Notley.
 
“We need a government that is willing to follow through with promises and fix our health care system. This government has had 43 years to do the right thing and take care of our province’s most vulnerable and they’ve failed.”
 

Repealing Bill 45 long overdue


EDMONTON –New Democrat MLA David Eggen called the repeal of Bill 45 a long overdue reversal for which public sector workers can thank the Supreme Court of Canada.

 
“Once again the PCs had to be forced into doing the right thing. The Premier didn’t do this because he has a soft spot for public sector workers. If Prentice truly believed that this was a bad bill, he had a full fall session to withdraw it. Instead, it was only after the Supreme Court’s ruling that Prentice had no choice but to repeal this draconian legislation,” said Eggen.
 
Bill 45 allowed the PCs to fine Albertans for saying or writing anything the government perceives to be a “strike threat,” and imposed crippling fines on unions that were unmatched anywhere else in the country.
 
In January, the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed that a worker's right to strike is constitutionally protected and as such, many of Alberta’s laws which ban strikes are likely unconstitutional.
 
“This government cannot be trusted to treat the hard working men and women of the public sector, fairly. Bill 45 directly violated the fundamental principles of collective bargaining, democratic process and respect for public employees and repealing it ensures public sector workers and their families will not be bullied,” said Eggen.

Mason asks EPS to investigate allegations against MLA Naresh Bhardwaj


EDMONTON – New Democrat MLA Brian Mason sent a letter to Edmonton Police Chief, Rod Knecht today, requesting the service investigate allegations of criminal activity against MLA Naresh Bhardwaj.
 
This comes after the Premier chose to have the PC Party investigate themselves rather than referring the matter to the police.
 
New Democrats have repeatedly called on the Premier to direct his party to forward all documentation and evidence to the police so they can consider these allegations.
 
The PCs have ignored questions repeatedly. Instead, the PCs hired a third party investigator that is only accountable to them. 
 

Pediatric Surgeon speaks out about the situation at the Stollery

This is not the way we should be practicing medicine


EDMONTON –After reading the coverage arising from a New Democrat release Monday, Associate Professor of Surgery at University of Alberta, Stollery Children’s Hospital, Dr. Bryan Dicken felt compelled to speak out about the real life impact surgery cancellations are having on kids, parents and staff.
 
“These numbers only begin to tell the story of dire situation our health care system is facing. This is not a blip in the system, as the minister characterized it - this is a structural problem for which there is no plan in place to address our population growth and that means it will only get worse,” said Dicken.
 
Data obtained by the NDP through FOIP show that in the last 9 months, postponed surgeries have nearly doubled what was reported in 12 months last year at Stollery Children’s Hospital, reaching 200 by December 2014.
 
“This government has made promise after promise to fix our health care system and we haven’t seen an improvement, in fact things have gotten worse. The PCs have refused to listen to frontline workers like Dr. Dicken for years and the results have been catastrophic,” said NDP leader Rachel Notley.
 
“Last night I had to postpone surgery for a premature baby; this takes an incredible toll both emotionally and financially on parents and kids. When I call a parents to tell them their child’s surgery has been scheduled, in the same breath I’m warning them that surgery will likely be bumped. That’s not the way we want to practice medicine,” said Dicken.
 
“If the province moves forward with cuts, I don’t know what we’ll do. There is nothing we can cut. We can’t squeeze any more water from this stone.”

Asbestos, Mold, Fire Safety: Government announcements pale in comparison to critical infrastructure


 
EDMONTON –New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley released documents today, showing the true extent of problems in Edmonton-area hospitals, detailing over $225 million of overdue repairs in the five largest facilities.

“The PCs have neglected our hospitals so long, that the safety of Edmonton-area hospitals hangs in the balance,” Notley said. “Yesterday we released documents showing that postponed surgeries are increasing—today we see that all too often, when people are getting their surgery, it’s happening in a facility that is not only overcrowded, it’s also crumbling. The PCs have neglected pressing infrastructure needs for years, and now too many hospitals are in critical condition.”

Last week, the PCs announced $50 million in funding to renovate emergency rooms in several hospitals. Notley said the NDP’s documents show that the need is far greater than what the PCs have promised. Many urgent projects on the list have been delayed for several years.

Major delayed projects include:

  • Ten fire safety upgrades, including sprinklers, fire alarms and long-awaiting lightning rods
  • Eleven unfunded asbestos abatements at Royal Alexandria Hospital alone
  • Multiple elevator replacements and upgrades, including elevators at Sturgeon Community Hospital in need of upgrades to conform to safety code
  • Mold abatement at Misericordia


“As we grapple with a downturn in oil prices, Albertans are also asking how it is that our hospitals can be in such an appalling state,” Notley said.

“The answer lies squarely at the feet of the PC government and their failure to respond to these problems when they became evident. Albertans deserve better than crowded, crumbling hospitals.”  

Mason statement on Premier’s refusal to address Bhardwaj allegations


EDMONTON – Today, NDP MLA Brian Mason made the following statement on the government's refusal to answer questions on the serious allegations against MLA, Naresh Bhardwaj.

"It is our job as opposition members to hold the government accountable.

"The government position that bribery allegations against a cabinet minister are an internal party matter does not hold water – their refusal to answer questions is unacceptable.

"There are unproven allegations that a former cabinet minister was involved in bribery, and rather than refer the matter to the police, Premier Prentice is having his own party investigate themselves. Where potentially criminal activity is concerned, it is not appropriate for such matters to be dealt with internally.

"The Premier’s assertion that this is internal, and should be investigated by the PC Party themselves is absurd.

"The person who made these allegations addressed their statutory declaration to Jim Prentice in his capacity as Premier.

"In refusing to refer the matter to the police, Mr. Prentice is failing to do his public duty.

"It’s clear that the PCs have not changed their spots – they still want to deal with allegations of corruption behind closed doors. That’s not leadership."

Notley to introduce motion calling on government to phase out coal in Alberta


EDMONTON –NDP Leader Rachel Notley will introduce a motion today, calling on the government to implement a strategy that would phase out coal in Alberta.

“The evidence is clear that it is time to phase out coal powered electricity in the province in Alberta. Coal is one of the single largest pollutants in Alberta. It costs our health care millions of dollars every year and is a massive source of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Notley.
 
The motion urges the government to commit to the immediate study and drafting of a plan to phase-out coal-generated power in Alberta by 2030.
 
“Alberta continues to burn more coal that the rest of the country, combined. It’s time to make a tangible commitment to phasing out coal, ensuring a brighter, more sustainable future for our children and our grandchildren,” said Notley.
 
“The Premier has referred to phasing out coal as the ‘right thing to do’. I’m urging Jim Prentice and this PC government to follow through with that sentiment, do the right thing and protect this province so that future generations can continue to enjoy it.”
 

Postponed surgeries double at Stollery Children’s hospital


EDMONTON –New Democrat Leader, Rachel Notley released documents today showing a disturbing trend in the number of surgeries being postponed in Alberta due to hospital capacity.

“Families are arriving at the hospital only to find out the important surgeries and procedures they have been anxiously awaiting have been postponed. The PCs have not made health care in this province a priority and it's our province's most vulnerable people who are paying the price,” said Notley.

The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, show thousands of surgeries are being postponed every year in Alberta. Nine months into the 2014-2015 fiscal year, 1,376 surgeries have been cancelled across the province—almost five surgeries every day. Based on previous year’s numbers, all zones are likely to exceed last year’s cancellation numbers.

Perhaps most concerning is the number of surgeries that have been postponed at the Stollery Children’s hospital. In the first 9 months of this fiscal year, the hospital has almost doubled what was reported for all of last year.

“This backs up the stories we’ve heard from parents and kids. Anxious parents bring their kids in for surgeries, only to be told that they can’t fit them in this week. This prolongs anxiety, stress, pain and illness for kids in Alberta. It's just not right,” said Notley.

“This is another troubling symptom of an overcapacity crisis the PCs refuse to address. This government has neglected our hospitals for years, making shiny announcements at election time, and then failing to follow through with the meaningful changes Albertans deserve.”

The current crisis in hospitals stems from decades of reckless mistakes from the PCs. They have failed to invest in needed infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, to plan over the long term for hospitals and health infrastructure and build long-term care spaces.

Notley releases statement on Associate Minister Bhardwaj’s resignation from Cabinet


EDMONTON – Today, New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley responded to an announcement that Associate Minister Naresh Bhardwaj would resign his cabinet position amid serious allegations.

“These are serious allegations.

Yesterday, we called on the Premier to remove Naresh Bhardwaj from Cabinet. We believe today’s decision was appropriate.

However, by relying on the PC party to investigate members of the PC party, Mr. Prentice is failing to ensure that the interests of Albertans come before the interests of the PC party.

This is not merely an internal party matter and Mr. Prentice’s failure to recognize that is troubling.

We are calling on Jim Prentice to direct his party to forward all documentation and evidence to the RCMP so they can consider these allegations. Investigating a potentially criminal matter themselves, behind closed doors, is not adequate.

When the NDP questioned the government about this on Thursday, the Attorney General said that this was a “party matter”. He was incorrect and therefore we are continuing our call for the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee any potential investigation that may be undertaken by the police. This is the only way to avoid the conflict of interest that is clearly present with the PCs investigating themselves.

I am calling on Mr. Prentice to show leadership in this matter and keep his promise of running a clean government.”

Hollow Promises: New CRH Hospital Units Remain Empty


LETHBRIDGE – Two new shelled-in inpatient units at Chinook Regional Hospital remain just that – empty shells. Internal documents released by the NDP reveal that the PCs are dragging their feet when it comes to outfitting these units.

“Each day that ticks by, no one in the PCs is standing up for Lethbridge,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “The units exist, but they remain empty – as the population and bed demand in Lethbridge continue to grow. The government needs to act now.”

The documents show that there is a bed shortage in Lethbridge and the units need to be outfitted to maintain acceptable occupancy rates.

“Our community is thriving – and with that means increased use of public services. The PC Government has built the building, but they stopped there,” said NDP Lethbridge-West Candidate Shannon Phillips. “It doesn’t make sense – it’s like a brand new car with no engine under the hood.”

The longer the government waits, the more expensive the project will become. Had this necessary project been started in 2012 alongside the current addition, the government would have saved over $3 million dollars, as opposed to delaying the project until 2016. Now the PCs continue to procrastinate, as costs continue to rise.

“This government has failed to invest our resource wealth wisely,” said Notley. “Project delays cost money. Had the PCs invested when they should have, Lethbridge would not be staring at two empty hospital units.”

Notley releases statement on allegations against Associate Minister Bhardwaj


EDMONTON – Today in Question Period, New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley questioned the PC government on their plans to respond to serious allegations against PC MLA and cabinet minister Naresh Bhardwaj involving bribery.

“While unproven, the allegations against Associate Minister Bhardwaj are extremely serious and could amount to a breach of the criminal code. Today, I asked the Premier to take leadership by asking the member to step aside pending the outcome of the allegations and the completion of any potential investigations.

“As the actions alleged could amount to a breach of the criminal code, I also asked the Minister of Justice to commit to appointing a special prosecutor to ensure transparency in any investigation that might occur as a result of these allegations.”

PCs pat themselves on the back prematurely


 EDMONTON – The PCs appear to have announced plans to build more seniors spaces, and then held a congratulatory press conference announcing how many more seniors care spaces they’d built – before a single one even left the drawing board.
 
“It’s like starting a New Year’s resolution and saying “I did it!” on January 2nd,” said NDP Seniors Critic David Eggen. “They’ve assembled a mish-mash of numbers for this announcement that make their totals less than credible. This government has been failing to meet the needs of seniors for decades. Now as an election approaches, they are covering up their failings with hasty congratulatory announcements.”
 
Right now, hundreds of seniors are being cared for in acute care beds, because the proper space is not available in the community. This serious lack of long-term care beds in Alberta has led to dangerous capacity issues in emergency rooms across the province.
 
Despite continued promises from the PCs, the number of seniors waiting for long term care has grown and hospitals continue to operate at well over 100% capacity levels.
 
“The PCs continue to manipulate Albertans with re-announcements of old funding, misleading announcements on new schools that haven’t begun construction yet, and now they’re congratulating themselves on a job that hasn’t even begun,” said Eggen. “Albertans deserve a government that shows leadership, not a government that cuts corners with faux announcements.” 
 
The NDP would open long term care beds, alleviating the pressure on emergency departments and ensuring seniors get the care they need.

PCs mislead Albertans on school construction


 EDMONTON – Today, NDP Education critic Deron Bilous called on the government to come clean on the true timelines for Alberta school construction projects.
 
“The truth is, these schools are not going to be built on time, and the fact this PC government refuses to be up front and honest with Albertans show an incredible arrogance and lack of respect for the families who are depending on them,” said Bilous.
 
Bilous’ comments come after the Red Deer Public School District spoke out, saying Inglewood Elementary School is not as far along as the government says it is.
 
In an update yesterday, the province reported that construction will start on the school next month, but school board officials say it hasn’t even gone to tender and won’t be completed until September 2017, a full year after the province’s target.
 
“There are families all over this province planning their lives around these promised schools but instead of putting the interests of those families first, the PCS continue to use school announcements to serve their own political interests. Clearly we cannot trust the information coming from this government,” said Bilous.
 
“The PCs promised 50 new schools three years ago and have only managed to build one of them and now we’re supposed to believe they’ll build 75 by 2016? This government is far more concerned with making headlines than following through with their promises.”

Notley statement on International Women’s Day


Edmonton – NDP Leader Rachel Notley made the following statement on International Women’s Day:

"On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the great achievements that our sisters before us have made, and we continue to strive for greater equality.

"We continue to work to make things better for women in this country. However, in Alberta, things are sliding back.

"Twenty-five years ago, Alberta women fared better economically than in any other place in Canada – better education levels and better jobs.

"Today, we see that Alberta has fallen into dead last, having the highest income gap between men and women anywhere in the country. For every dollar a man makes, a woman earns just sixty-three cents.

"Since more women are in lower tax brackets, Alberta’s flat tax also leaves women on the whole paying a greater share in taxes.

"Coupled with this wage gap, we know that PC cuts disproportionately affect women in Alberta – they are the service providers and they bear the burden when those services are inadequate. Lack of seniors care, cuts to education and health care all affect women.

"At the end of the day, women in Alberta are being paid less, carrying more of the tax burden, and getting less in services. 

"It’s time for a change."

Notley demands apology from Prentice for blaming Albertans


Edmonton – NDP Leader Rachel Notley made the following statement in response to Premier Prentice’s inflammatory remarks yesterday, suggesting Albertans are to blame for the province’s fiscal situation.

“Yesterday, Mr. Prentice said that, when asking who is responsible for the government’s problems, Albertans need only to look in the mirror.
 
"When Albertans look in the mirror, I can tell you what they see.
 
They see someone who is working harder than ever to make ends meet. They see someone who doesn’t want their loved ones suffering as they wait to be seen for unending hours in an emergency room. They see someone who cares that their kids get a quality education and have a bright future ahead of them.
 
"Perhaps we should be asking what Mr. Prentice would see if he looked in the mirror.
 
"He would see the leader of a tired 43-year-old government that has squandered our resource wealth. He would see a leader who is telling Albertans they will pay more to get less, while giving their money away in tax breaks to big banks, large corporations and high-income Albertans. He would see a leader who insists that Albertans have enjoyed the “best of everything”, while turning a blind eye to our bursting emergency rooms, overcrowded schools and seniors waiting for a long-term care bed.
 
"I think if Mr. Prentice was honest, he’d take a long look at the PC record and realize he cannot blame hard-working Albertans for PC mistakes and failures.
 
"These comments are offensive and simply wrong. Albertans expect better than this from their Premier. Mr. Prentice needs to issue an immediate apology to the people of Alberta and retract his remarks."
 

NDP Leader Rachel Notley releases statement on Parkland Institute report on gender income inequality


 
EDMONTON – New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley released the following statement in response to the Parkland Institute report on gender income inequality:
 
“I’m very disappointed to see the gap between what men and women are paid in this province is growing, however I’m not surprised.
 
“The NDP have known about this issue for a long time and when I became leader of the NDP, I created a Status of Women critic portfolio for this very reason. Women in Alberta are not being treated fairly and that means Alberta families are suffering.
 
“Instead of taking steps to close the gap, this PC government is waging a war against public sector jobs, dominated by women. Prentice is proving that he is out of touch with what Alberta families need.
 
“There are a number of contributors to this problem but one solution is to overhaul our child care system to ensure that affordable quality spaces are available to all those women who would like to be in the workforce.”

Calgary Emergency Departments face capacity crisis


CALGARY - New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley and Calgary-Fort nomination candidate Joe Ceci released documents today that show Calgary emergency rooms are dealing with a severe capacity crisis. The data reveals a sharply growing number of Tier 1, or high-risk overcapacity triggers in Calgary emergency departments.
 
"When our emergency departments cannot provide emergency care, there's only one place to point the finger: at this PC government that has neglected our healthcare system for decades. Calgarians are worried about their families' future - they're worried that further cuts will make the situation worse," said Notley.
 
T1 overcapacity triggers, the highest risk triggers, are initiated when a patient needing either resuscitation, rapid medical intervention or is expected to progress to need emergent medical intervention would not be able to get the care that they urgently need.
 
In September 2014, a high-risk overcapacity protocol was triggered 43 times in Calgary emergency departments. Even more alarming is that on September 24th every one of the five hospitals reported on triggered a high-risk overcapacity protocol.
 
The number of high-risk overcapacity triggers have sharply increased since July 2014, peaking in November 2014 at 66 triggers in one month. 
 
"Our doctors and nurses are doing the best they can. But the PCs have allowed the health care system across Calgary to weaken to the point that very often, emergency departments cannot provide emergency care," said Ceci. "That's just wrong. Calgary expects better and Calgary deserves better."
 
The NDP would relieve pressures on emergency departments by ensuring there are adequate and appropriate long-term care spaces for Albertans who need them.
  
For a backgrounder on overcapacity, click here
 

Statement from NDP Leader Rachel Notley on anniversary of Mayerthorpe tragedy


 EDMONTON – New Democrat leader Rachel Notley released the following statement today:

“On behalf of Alberta’s New Democrats, I want to extend my condolences to the families of the Fallen Four - Constables Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston, Brock Myrol and Peter Schiemann - as they mark the ten year anniversary of the Mayerthorpe tragedy.

“While time has passed, Albertans continue to remember the ultimate sacrifice these officers made while protecting Albertans. 

“As the families and friends of these brave men gather to remember their loved ones, Alberta’s NDP extends our gratitude to all law enforcement officers who risk their lives daily for our safety.”

What Changed, Mr. Prentice?


EDMONTON –Following news that the PCs intend to balance the budget on the backs of students by lifting Alberta’s tuition cap, NDP Leader Rachel Notley questioned why the Premier’s position on tuition fees has changed.
 
“When Mr. Prentice ran for leadership of the federal Progressive Conservatives in 2003, one of his major platform planks was tuition-free university and college for students,” said Notley. “Today as Premier, he wants to balance the budget on the backs of students. I’d like to know what changed.” 
 
“The primary reason is to invest in Canada’s future, because it’s clear that in the knowledge economy of tomorrow what will make an economy like Canada’s competitive is a well-educated workforce that’s on the cutting edge,” said Prentice as rationale for his 2003 policy.
 
“I’d like to ask the Premier what has changed since 2003 – are we no longer in a knowledge economy? Do we no longer need a well-educated workforce to be competitive?” said Notley.
 
Prentice’s plan was widely reported in 2003, in provincial and national news. Prentice also released a policy statement on the subject titled, “Investing in the Next Generation of Leadership”. 
 
“As recently as last fall, Prentice said he would reverse the cuts to post-secondary made by Premier Redford. Now, he’s planning to add to those cuts instead. Can we really trust Prentice’s promises?” asked Notley.
 
Alberta’s NDP will ensure that post-secondary institutions receive the stable and predictable funding they need to provide the affordable and accessible education Albertans need to diversify our economy and build greater opportunities for all Albertans.

 

Lifting tuition cap would be further financial burden to Albertan students: Mason


EDMONTON – Alberta New Democrat Advanced Education critic Brian Mason released the following statement today regarding the possibility that the tuition cap for post-secondary institutions may be removed:

“The NDP are greatly troubled by the speculation that the current tuition cap for post-secondary education may be eliminated. By even suggesting removing the cap, the PC government has headed down the wrong track,” Mason said.

“The government is toying with the future of young Albertans, and the future of this province. Lifting the cap will open the door to tuition hikes, which will hurt lower and middle-income Albertans’ access to further education, in a province that already has the lowest post-secondary participation rate in Canada.

“After squandering years of prosperity, this government wants students to pay the price for their wrong priorities by forcing them to pay more for their education. Lifting the tuition cap will set the stage for further cuts to institutions and grants, meaning universities will take it out of students’ pockets instead of the PCs taking responsibility for their past mistakes.

“We all benefit from a strong post-secondary system, with a greater diversity of skills, increased economic diversification and more protection from the boom and bust cycle the PCs have put us on. If they remove the tuition cap, the PCs are risking the future of young Albertans and the prosperity of our province.”

Overcapacity triggers reach alarming levels in Edmonton Emergency Departments


A previous version of this news release referred to overcapacity triggers at the  Stollery Children's Hospital. In fact, this was the Sturgeon Community Hospital. 

EDMONTON – New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley released documents today that reveal a shocking trend in the number of overcapacity triggers in Edmonton hospitals.
 
“When a patient is in life threatening condition and cannot access a physician because our hospitals are too crowded, that is a clear indication that our health care system is in crisis and because the PCs refuse to take responsibility for this serious problem, the situation is getting worse,” said Notley.
 
Overcapacity protocol is triggered by one or a combination of indictors that a medical site does not have the ability or capacity to respond to a current situation.
 
Overcapacity triggers data, obtained through a Freedom of Information application show that on average overcapacity triggers have more than tripled since April 2013, spiking at 366 in October 2014.
 
“This is a snapshot of just how much the PCs have allowed this vital public service to break down. The doctors and nurses in our hospitals are working as hard as they can but they just don’t have the resources to deal with the patients who are coming in,” said Notley.
 
“The overcrowding in Alberta hospitals has no doubt resulted in some tragic consequences for Alberta families, consequences that could have been avoided had the PCs taken responsibility for this serious situation. It’s just wrong. Albertans should not have to pay the price for this government’s reckless policies.”
 
The NDP would relieve pressures on emergency departments by ensuring there are adequate and appropriate long term care spaces for Albertans who need them.

For a backgrounder on overcapacity triggers, click here.
 

NDP Finance critic Brian Mason releases statement on Q3 Fiscal Update


 EDMONTON –New Democrat Finance critic Brian Mason released the following statement in response to the government’s Q3 Fiscal Update:
 
“Alberta is in the situation it is today because the PCs squandered our unprecedented resource revenue in the good years and now they want regular Albertans to pay for their mistakes as they get ready to make huge cuts to public services and programs.
 
“No matter the price of oil, our kids need schools to learn in and teachers to teach them, our families need accessible health care and our seniors need affordable long term care homes.
 
“Instead of making hard-working Albertans pay the price for PC mistakes, we need to protect our future with a sustainable, fair revenue system where very wealthy Albertans and corporations pay their fair share.
 
“By continuing to threaten the public sector as a way to make up for lost revenue, the PCs are proving they are out of touch with what Albertans want.”

Statement from NDP Leader Rachel Notley on RCMP investigation into Alison Redford


EDMONTON – Following the news that the RCMP has concluded its criminal investigation into former Premier Alison Redford, without charges, NDP Leader Rachel Notley made the following statement:
 
“Today’s news does not change the fact that this tired PC government has an exaggerated sense of entitlement and an inability to distinguish between public interest and personal interest. This is about right and wrong and it’s clear the PCs don’t know the difference.
 
“The PCs suffer from a culture of entitlement that has outlasted leaders and has followed Premier Prentice into his office, as was evidenced with Prentice’s endorsement of Gordon Dirk’s inappropriate conduct during the October by-elections."
 

Internal AHS documents show moms and babies are in danger in Fort McMurray


EDMONTON –New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley released internal AHS documents today that show the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre maternal/child unit is dangerously overcapacity and despite repeated recommendations to expand the centre, the PCs have refused to approve the desperately needed renovations.
 
“Clearly Alberta families are not a priority for this government. The PCs are willing to put the safety of mothers and infants at risk while they follow an agenda with seriously misplaced priorities. How can this government even talk about imposing a health care premium on families while neglecting health care? It’s just not right and Albertans shouldn’t have to put up with it,” said Notley.
 
An internal AHS report obtained through a Freedom of Information application shows that the PCs refusal to move forward with the expansion of the maternity centre, is putting patient’s safety at risk.
 
The report goes on to say, “The community’s needs is (sic) already deficient, and all projections show a significant increase in population in Fort McMurray, which will further compound the problem if action is not taken.”
 
“This PC government’s blatant neglect of vital health care infrastructure is endangering the safety of expectant mothers and their children. These are some of our society’s most vulnerable citizens and they expect and deserve a safe place to be cared for during such a critical time in their lives,” said Notley.
 
“The fact that the PCs have known about this critical issue for so long and done nothing shows that either they don’t respect voters or they’re incompetent, or both.”
 

NDP Leader Rachel Notley calls health care premiums a regressive tax


 EDMONTON – Today NDP Leader Rachel Notley called health care premiums regressive and called on the PCs to implement a fair taxation that would have every Albertan pay their fair share.
 
“Health care premiums would certainly hit vulnerable Albertans the hardest. Before the province even considers reintroducing them, our flat tax system needs to be fixed. We are the only province in the country that still relies on this method that forces middle income Albertans to shoulder a disproportionate amount of the financial burden,” said Notley.
 
Notley’s comments come after Finance Minister, Robin Campbell announced the PCs are strongly considering reintroducing the health care premiums that were eliminated in 2009.
 
“This is another example of the PCs making regular, hard-working Albertans pay for the government’s mistakes. Forcing Albertans to pay health care premiums directly- as the PCs have proposed- would be a very clear shift from corporate Alberta on to individual Albertans,” said Notley.
 
“The Premier is proving once again that he is out of touch with what Albertans want and what Alberta families need moving forward.”
 

 

Notley and the New Democrats launch campaign to end reckless PC tax breaks for large corporations


EDMONTON – New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley launched a campaign to end the PCs reckless and damaging tax cuts for Alberta’s largest and most profitable corporations.

“This PC government squandered our substantial resource revenue during the good years and now they’re telling regular Albertans that they have to pay for the PCs’ mistakes while huge corporations get to keep their tax breaks. It’s just not right,” said Notley.

For years the PCs have been slashing corporate taxes that apply to companies earning over half of million dollars. Since 2001, the tax rate has been reduced from 15.5% to the current 10% rate, the lowest in the country. Across the country rates range from 11% to 16%.

As an example, a 1% difference in the corporate tax rate would add 500 million dollars in new annual revenue for the province. Yet, Jim Prentice and the PCs have said publicly they won’t even consider raising the rate for corporations and instead say that every individual will pay more.

“Alberta has no sales tax, so we don’t need to have the lowest corporate tax rate in Canada to remain competitive. Jim Prentice is not being realistic with his commitment to ignore the issue. He is attacking working and middle-income families with promises of deep cuts to key public services,” said Notley.

“This government refuses to put Alberta families before PC friends and insiders. To say that every Albertan will pay their fair share during this economic situation, and then let the most profitable corporations off the hook by not even considering raising corporate taxes, Jim Prentice and PCs have shown, yet again, that they have the wrong priorities.”

Today, Notley launched an online campaign asking Albertans to support the New Democrats’ call for the PCs to stop the attack on Alberta families and make wealthy corporations pay their fair share: http://act.albertandp.ca/faircorporatetax.

NDP statement on PCs shutting down international offices



EDMONTON –NDP MLA Brian Mason released the following statement regarding the PC government’s closure of three international offices and the suspension of two others in progress:
 
“From the beginning, the Alberta NDP has been a staunch critic of these international offices, which have all too often served as places of patronage for faithful Tory insiders and their privileged friends,” Mason said.
 
“We support the decision to close government offices in Chicago, Munich and Ottawa but we call on the government to come clean with Albertans on how much money has been wasted on the cancelled projects in California and Brazil.”
 

David Eggen releases statement on cuts to the Auditor General’s office


 
EDMONTON – NDP MLA David Eggen released the following statement in response to a decision by the PC-dominated Legislative Offices committee to cut funding to the Auditor General’s office:
 
“The Legislative Offices committee is in place to represent the interests of Albertans, not the interests of the Premier. Prentice has truly demonstrated his arrogance today in directing the Legislative Offices committee to go back on a decision that was made in the best interest of Albertans.
 
“The PCs have squandered our unprecedented resource revenue and now they are making Albertans pay for their mistakes.
 
“As this government prepares to slash public services, we need the Auditor General more than ever to help protect the things that matter most to Alberta families and ensure that Alberta continues to have a bright and prosperous future ahead.”

PCs’ 9% cuts will hurt Alberta families


EDMONTON – New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley called the PCs proposed spending cuts irresponsible and damaging, today.
 
“Alberta families depend on the government to protect and provide vital public services. No matter what the price of oil is, families will need healthcare, their kids need to go to school and their aging parents will need a place to live. As this PC government prepares to make devastating cuts, Prentice is proving once again that Alberta families are not a priority,” said Notley.
 
 Notley’s comments come after Premier Prentice and his Finance minister announced they are planning a 9% spending reduction in the upcoming budget.
 
“The Premier is quick to make major cuts to services that Alberta’s most vulnerable people rely on and yet he refuses to consider raising corporate taxes. Prentice is out of touch with what Albertans need and want and he clearly doesn’t understand what a fair province looks like,” said Notley.
 
“This government has squandered our unprecedented wealth and now they are making Alberta families pay to clean up its mess.”
 

More PC cuts put children’s lives at risk


EDMONTON – New Democrat MLA David Eggen called on the government today to reverse budget cuts to the office of the Child and Youth Advocate.
 
“No one wants to see another innocent child die in care, especially when these tragic deaths could be prevented. We need to provide the Child and Youth Advocate the resources he needs to do his job so that we can protect Alberta’s most vulnerable children,” said Eggen.
 
In December, the PC dominated Legislative Offices Committee voted to cut the budgets of the Ethics Commissioner, Child and Youth Advocate, Privacy Commissioner, Ombudsmen, Public Interest Commissioner and Auditor General by 2%, which translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars of funding for the already under-resourced offices.
 
Today, the committee heard concerns voiced in a letter from the office of the Child and Youth Advocate. Del Graff says his office will not be able to complete its mandated responsibilities with the proposed budget.
 
“Kids in care should not have to pay the price with cuts for the way this PC government squandered our wealth in the good years. The PCs continue to prove that they will always put their own interests ahead of kids in this province.”
 

The PCs are hiding from their healthcare record

NDP calls for overdue AHS performance reports to be released


EDMONTON– New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley called on the PCs today, to stop hiding from their record on healthcare and release overdue AHS Performance Measures reports.

“Right now, patients are suffering from this government’s neglect. People are waiting hours for emergency care, they are being put into acute care beds when they should be in long term care and our doctors and nurses are stretched to their limits trying to keep up with a system running over-capacity,” said Notley.

Alberta Health Services had been releasing quarterly performance reports on health targets since 2009, but stopped releasing data after the 2013-2014 report came out, late, in October 2014. 

Since then, three quarters have passed with no update.

“We know our healthcare system is in crisis and this government refuses to take responsibility for its neglect of the healthcare system and instead the PCs are hiding the data so that Albertans can’t know how bad it really is.”

In the midst of cost-cutting measures, AHS announced last week that it has commissioned an Ontario company to establish new benchmarks.

Dr. Paul Parks, who represents the AMA- Emergency Section of Medicine- South Zone called the new contract “ridiculous,” telling the media, “We have experts in the nation who have set and written the benchmarks. AHS has repeatedly tried to change markers over time because they are not meeting internationally accepted benchmarks.”

“This isn’t something this government can sugar-coat or dodge and that’s why the PCs are hiding. This data shows just how much the PCs have let our vital healthcare services weaken and crack, without doing anything to stop it,” Notley said.

 

Students, teachers and support staff suffer as PCs refuse to fund public education


EDMONTON – New Democrat Education critic, Deron Bilous called on the PCs today to take responsibility for chronically underfunding education in Alberta.

“Our children deserve high quality education, they deserve one-on-one time and they deserve the chance to build nurturing relationships with the teachers and staff they are spending their time with. By neglecting our public education system through chronic underfunding, this PC government is robbing our kids of those opportunities,” said Bilous.

Bilous’ comments come on the heels of a Public Interest Alberta report that surveyed parents, students, teachers and staff in cities and towns across the province.

The report confirms what Bilous and the NDP have been saying in the Legislature for years.

“Although these statistics are concerning, they’re not surprising. We have known for years that growing class sizes, inadequate classroom space and a lack of resources means our kids are not getting the education they deserve and that the current system is failing them,” said Bilous.

A startling 80% of respondents feel their classroom does not have enough support staff.

“When you underfund even one student who needs special attention, that underfunding has a ripple effect throughout the entire classroom. The PCs are making it harder and harder for Alberta teachers to do their jobs effectively and it’s the kids who will suffer,” said Bilous.

PCs failure to provide mental healthcare for PDD recipients is endangering lives


EDMONTON – NDP Leader Rachel Notley was joined by LoSeCa Foundation CEO, Marie Renaud today to release a letter detailing the PCs failure to provide safe environments and supports for PDD recipients with complex needs.
 
The letter details the dangerous history of one of LoSeCa’s clients, a man who has assaulted staff as well as his peers, tried to hurt himself and made numerous death threats. It also details LoSeCa’s ongoing struggle to support him without access to the mental health care he needs.
 
“We have seen the tragic consequences of allowing dangerous individuals to continue to live and work in communities without the proper treatment or supports. Innocent lives have been lost because this government refuses to make this vital mental health care a priority,” said Notley.
 
The man described in the letter was admitted to Grey Nuns Hospital in August 2014 and remains there, as there is no secure place for him to live and receive psychiatric support in the community.
 
“This government has let our mental health system deteriorate to the point that we are now faced with a dangerous shortage of mental health facilities and spaces in Alberta. In some cases, like this one, there is simply nothing available. The PCs need to take responsibility for providing mental health care services, they can’t continue to offload the responsibility for care onto service providers like us,” said Renaud.
 
“These are some of our most vulnerable citizens. They often can’t advocate for the care they are entitled to and so this government ignores them. By continuing down this reckless path of neglect, the PCs are putting PDD recipients, support workers and community members at a serious risk of being hurt or killed,” said Notley.
 
“We need decisions that our going to strengthen our communities and ensure safe spaces for kids and families. By turning a blind eye to this serious issue, the PC are proving they are out of touch with what Albertans need.”
 

Prentice can’t make up his mind on carbon capture


EDMONTON – NDP Energy critic Brian Mason said today that Jim Prentice is wasting his time in the United States trying to promote an environmental policy that he himself referred to as a science experiment.

Yesterday, Prentice referred to carbon capture and storage as a “game changing technology,” just months after he referred to carbon capture as a “science experiment.”

“While his Finance Minister is at home trying to sell the PCs’ fiscal policy that has failed ordinary Alberta families, the Premier has taken a week away from Alberta to sell an environmental policy that he doesn’t believe in.” Mason said.

“But not only is Prentice attempting to sell Americans a line about carbon capture—he’s also in Washington and New York, lobbying for a pipeline that would sell out opportunities for long-term jobs upgrading product here in Alberta.”

Mason posed two questions that Prentice needs to answer:

1.      If Prentice believes, as he stated, that carbon capture is “game changing technology”, and is no longer the “science experiment” that he criticized in July and again in October, will he provide further public resources to these projects?

2.      If Prentice believes, as his Finance Minister has said “that we must get off the oil train”, why does he support expanding the export of raw bitumen to create US jobs and US business opportunities, rather than more upgrading and processing of our resources here, in line with the philosophy of Peter Lougheed and the Alberta NDP?  Why are there no actions to support diversification which would create Alberta jobs?

“Albertans deserve straight answers to these questions,” Mason said. “Again and again, Alberta families are left wondering why the PC government can’t be trusted to plan for our future—for future prosperity, to protect our natural environment and to improve our international reputation.”

Emergency departments still dealing with dangerous capacity issues

NDP calls on PCs to update Albertans on continuing care promise


EDMONTON – New Democrat Seniors critic David Eggen called on the government to provide Albertans with an update on the number of continuing care space that have been opened since the PCs promised 464 new spaces, in October.

“We’ve reached a point where emergency room doctors no longer have the resources to provide safe care to Albertans. We’re hearing stories of patients having heart attacks in waiting rooms, parents waiting hours with seriously sick and injured children and patients being treated and assessed in hallway. It’s another symptom of the wrong priorities of this PC government,” said Eggen.

Eggen’s comments come after the latest warning from Alberta emergency room doctors that critical capacity issues are now endangering the lives of patients as doctors do not have the resources necessary to provide the care that is needed.

He called on the PCs to provide an update on their promise to open spaces for people in need of long-term care.

“The PCs promised “meaningful progress in short order” to relieve pressures on hospitals. They told Albertans they would get the 700 patients who are currently in hospitals waiting for a long-term care bed the care they need and deserve. It appears those patients are still waiting,” said Eggen.

Dr. Paul Parks, spokesperson for the AMA Emergency Section of Medicine- South Zone, publicly sounded the alarm over capacity issues last year, warning that critical capacity issues in Alberta hospitals were endangering patients’ lives. Parks pointed to a lack of long term care beds as the route of the problem.

Since then, numerous ER doctors have publicly spoken out about the issue, warning of dire and deadly consequences if nothing is done.

“Alberta families should always come first but this government is neglecting seniors and endangering lives by refusing to protect and fund our most vital public service.”

Fracking and earthquakes require full scientific investigation, says Mason


EDMONTON – Today, NDP Environment critic Brian Mason called on the Alberta government to lead and support a robust, science-based examination of the recent earthquake in the Fox Creek area.
 
"According to experts, it seems very likely that this earthquake was linked to fracking activities in the immediate area.  Given the various controversies that have sprung up in recent years around fracking, it is imperative that Alberta Environment and the Alberta Energy Regulator move quickly to develop the required investigation, using the best science and the best independent experts.  Albertans need to know that this is not going to be ignored and just papered over." said Mason
 
"Over the years, we have demanded that the Alberta government agencies adopt more proactive and sustainable policies for our resource development.  It would help our industries if conflict was reduced over issues that affect our water, air and lands.  In order for that to occur, the government has to start listening to communities and people in areas like Fox Creek.

"It means not just filing reports of incidents and concerns - it means doing the follow up with proper management techniques and, in this case, with a rigorous, science-based investigation, led by independent experts. Earthquakes are serious threats to life and property and we cannot ignore this incident." 

We Need Mental Health Care Improvements, not more PC public relations: Notley

Internal AHS briefing note highlights patient safety concerns


 

EDMONTON – New Democrat Leader, Rachel Notley released an internal AHS briefing note today that highlights serious safety risks and security concerns for mental health patients and staff within Edmonton's health facilities.

"We have seen a number of tragic stories in the news lately that describe situations where the mental health system has failed Albertans. Now, we see today that this government is not only acutely aware of serious capacity and safety issues within Edmonton's health facilities but it's doing nothing to fix the problem. This is yet another example of how the PCs have got their priorities wrong," said Notley.

Some of the most serious facility issues outlined in the document include: 

  • Major capacity issues leading to multiple patients with serious psychiatric problems in the same room
  • Patients with developmental disabilities admitted with general population
  • No outdoor space for children who may be in the hospital for months
  • Lack of anti suicide/harm safety features
  • Substandard spaces that present safety risks

 
The briefing note was obtained through a Freedom of Information application and highlights the most serious issues discovered in the Zone 2030 Plan evaluations.

Included with the briefing note is a confidential memo titled "Advice to CEO/Minister" which explains that the Zone 2030 plan "has been the subject of a FOIPP request" and that once the information is public, "media will focus on capital deficiencies and recommended capital investment projects". It goes on to provide key messages for AHS and the ministry to use in response to questions about the deficiencies.
In almost all of the cases relating to mental health deficiencies, the briefing note advises that the deficiency is being reviewed.

"The PCs are manipulating the media and the public with carefully crafted messages when they should be focusing time and resources on developing a plan to deal with a serious infrastructure problem," said Notley

"This government needs to come clean with Albertans and admit that the PCs have failed to maintain our healthcare facilities and that neglect has placed many patients and front-line workers in serious danger. Instead of making healthcare a priority, we get more and more warnings from Jim Prentice and his ministers, that they intend to cut back even more in the health and education services that Alberta families depend on.”
 

PCs offload cost of education onto families despite recommendations


EDMONTON – Alberta families should not have to pay for the PCs neglect of vital public services. This government has repeatedly failed  to make the education of Alberta’s children a priority by ensuring school boards have adequate funding, NDP Education critic Deron Bilous said today. 

This Saturday is the last day Albertans can have their voices heard when it comes to school fees in Alberta as submissions on the Alberta Education Act regulations, close.
 
 The regulations outline how school fees will be used to cover the costs of basic education items, despite direct recommendation from the government’s own panel, to prohibit the fees.
 
“School fees have become unaffordable, especially for families with multiple children,” said Bilous. “Instead of taking responsibility for the education of Alberta’s children, the PCs have cut funding, increased fees and then dropped the problem they’ve created into the laps of school boards to deal with. It’s not fair to the boards, and it’s certainly not fair to the students.”
 
The latest numbers from Statistics Canada show Alberta’s school fees have nearly tripled in five years. Alberta has the highest school fees in Canada, nearly doubling the second highest fees, in Manitoba.
 
 “In times of uncertainty, it is more important than ever to make choices that strengthen our communities and ensure promising futures for our children. Instead of pushing these regulations through, this government needs to listen to Albertans and ensure that public education is accessible and affordable for everyone,” said Bilous.
 

Prentice’s PC arrogance shines through: Notley


 
EDMONTON – NDP Leader Rachel Notley released the following statement today in response to comments made by Jim Prentice, Wednesday where he suggested it would be a failure of the duty of opposition parties were they not ready for a snap election.
 
“Once again Jim Prentice has proven to Albertans that arrogance continues to fuel the PC party- a party that will do whatever it takes to stay in power, no matter the cost to regular Albertans.
 
“It is clear that Prentice cannot be trusted to be accountable for his own actions. First he breaks the official opposition, then he prepares to break the spirit of his election law and then blames the opposition for not being election-ready? Next he'll be firing teachers and then telling kids it's their fault for not learning to read.
 
“While I can assure Albertans and Jim Prentice that the Alberta New Democrats are ready to take him on. His arrogant approach to other opposition parties is clear evidence of a premier who has very little respect for the promises he made or for the diverse voices in Alberta."
 

HQCA Supportive Living report misses the mark: NDP


EDMONTON – The Health Quality Council of Alberta’s latest report doesn’t match up with what we’re hearing on the ground from the Albertans who are living in supportive living facilities or their families, NDP Seniors critic David Eggen said today.

Eggen was responding to the HQCA’s 2013-2014 Provincial Supportive Living Resident and Family Experience Report that showed residents and their families were satisfied with the overall care they are receiving.
 
“The results in this report show that staff are doing an excellent job with the resources they have but we know that supportive living facilities in Alberta are chronically under-staffed and under-resourced to point where residents are not getting the care they deserve,” said Eggen.
 
“The PCs have allowed the quality of care available in supportive living centres to deteriorate by chronically underfunding them and now they are making Alberta seniors pay for their neglect.”
 
The report surveyed patients and their families in 134 supportive living facilities across the province about their experiences in supportive living facilities. Staffing levels and availability were noted as a serious concern for many residents and their families.
 
“We hear stories everyday from Albertans who feel their needs are not being met in supportive living facilities. Residents say they are not getting the hygienic care they want or the medical attention they are asking for in a timely manner and at times they feel their safety is compromised,” said Eggen.
 
“We need a government that is willing to commit to adequately staffing and funding public facilities to ensure that Alberta seniors can have the quality of life and the level of care they deserve.”
 

Notley: Cancer Centre victim of PC’s failure to plan


 CALGARY – Today, Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley released the following statement regarding the future of the Calgary Cancer Centre.
 
“This PC government has long neglected the health care needs of Albertans. A state-of-the-art cancer centre with the capacity to help southern Albertans has been badly needed for years, and the longer we wait the more we risk compromising their care,” Notley said.
 
“The PC government has consistently failed to move our province forward in the good times, and I for one am very concerned about what is in store during the Prentice times.”
 
“Cancer is a traumatic enough experience without having to worry if your treatment will be delayed or undermined because of overcrowding and failing infrastructure issues.  It’s time for our infrastructure to match the fundamental demands of our growing province.”

Notley announces NDP caucus pre-budget tour: “Setting the Right Priorities”


 

EDMONTON – NDP Leader Rachel Notley and members of her caucus will be touring cities across the province talking to Albertans about their priorities for the coming budget.
 
“This is about setting the right priorities for Albertans,” Notley said. “We want to hear from people throughout Alberta about how we can work together to strengthen our communities and our services.  The record of the PC government has left families and communities threatened with the collapse of oil prices. This tour will give us the opportunity to hear from people in all regions about their concerns and their ideas to move forward.
 
“Even though our province currently faces challenges – challenges brought about through PC neglect – we believe the way forward needs to be founded on principles of fairness, while keeping a keen eye on protecting future opportunities for all Albertans.”
 
The caucus will hear from invited presenters representing community leaders, economic development groups, not-for-profits, Indigenous organizations and trade unions.
 
The tour dates are as follows:

· Medicine Hat, January 28: 10 a.m. – noon at the Medicine Hat Public Library
· Lethbridge, January 29: 1 – 3 p.m. at the Lethbridge public library
· Calgary, January 30: 1 – 3 p.m. at the Kahanoff Centre
· Red Deer, February 9: 1 – 3 p.m. at the Black Knight Inn
· Grande Prairie, February 12: 1 – 3 p.m. at the Centre 2000
· Fort McMurray, February 20: 1 – 3 p.m. at the Sawridge hotel
 
Notley said that the caucus has asked presenters to discuss their priorities for the 2015-16 provincial budget and will take the opportunity to ask questions about how Albertans believe we should address the province’s revenue shortfall.
 
“We firmly believe that, together, we can set the right direction for the province—a direction that protects our future, invests in our kids and seniors, families and communities. I’m excited about the opportunity to travel the province and speak with Albertans about their priorities for the future of our great province.”
 
The tour will wrap up in Edmonton in March before the Spring Session of the Legislature.
 
Notley will be available to media prior to each meeting. The meetings are open to the public.

 

Rachel Notley thanks Liberal Leader Raj Sherman for his service


 

 EDMONTON - NDP Leader Rachel Notley released the following statement today, thanking Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman for his service:

“I want to thank Raj for his years of public service and dedication to the province of Alberta. Leading an opposition party demands a great deal of time and energy.

“Raj was always a very genuine advocate for health care in our province, and I’d like to thank him for his passionate work on those important issues.

“We were both elected in 2008, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work with him on the issues that matter to Albertans over the past seven years.”

The road to homelessness paved with good intentions in poorly-planned regulations


EDMONTON - By pushing through important regulations without consideration for the people they will impact the most, this government is poised to hurt the very people the claim to be trying to protect, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said today.
 
“We need PDD programs in order to keep our communities strong and support our most vulnerable and this government’s reckless implementation of new policies shows the PCs don’t understand or respect the hard work of service providers,” said Notley.
 
Notley was responding to complaints filed to the Human Rights Commission by Alberta PDD service providers as a result of new accommodation standards imposed by the provincial government.
 
“We all support ensuring the highest standard of safety in the homes of vulnerable Albertans. However, by recklessly imposing the costs on service providers without compensation, the government threatens their very operation and that will likely cost PDD recipients their homes in some cases,” said Notley.
 
“As our work over the last several weeks has shown, even the government cannot maintain these standards in their own buildings, so why are they arbitrarily asking service providers, many of which are not-for-profit organizations, to do what they, themselves, cannot?”
 
Notley emphasized that safety standards are crucial and called on the PCs to provide adequate funding to service providers to ensure the safety of vulnerable Albertans.

Bilous releases statement on Municipal Governance Act MOU


EDMONTON – NDP Municipal Affairs critic Deron Bilous released the following statement on the government’s announcement of a Memorandum of Understanding on the Municipal Governance Act review:

“Alberta’s cities and towns continue to face uncertainty because of this government’s wrong priorities. We’ve seen delay after delay on this file—whether we’re talking about city charters or the provincial law that governs cities, towns and counties.

“On two separate occasions, the government has signed MOUs on the big city charters. Today, they’re yet again signing a document that amounts to having a plan to make a plan. Regular Albertans and municipal governments plan for the future and work hard to meet their deadlines. Why won’t this PC government do the same?”

Past time to axe flat tax: Notley


EDMONTON – As the Premier continues to muse about finally getting rid of the flat tax, NDP Leader Rachel Notley continued to call the flat tax an unfair, regressive tax that hurts families and called on the PCs to make it clear what they intend to do about revenue.
 
“Last week it was a sales tax, this week it’s a flat tax,” Notley said. “We don’t know where Prentice will go next with all his trial balloons, but we do know that an end to the flat tax is a crucial piece of finally getting our revenue on stable footing. By failing to do this years ago, the PCs gambled our prosperity and our future. It’s simply past time to axe the flat tax.”
 
Notley noted that Alberta is the only province in Canada with a flat personal income tax.
 
“I see how hard the middle-income families in this province work every day. They plan for their futures, they work to maintain their homes and put their kids through school. It’s long past time for the government to do the same.”

PC neglect puts Edmonton seniors at risk


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EDMONTON– NDP Leader Rachel Notley released new documents today showing nearly $90 million dollars of necessary maintenance at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre.

“Alberta’s seniors and palliative care patients deserve the highest quality of care but this government is not doing its job to provide that. Instead it has neglected important repairs at the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre for years, risking the safety and security of residents,” said Notley.

The internal AHS documents show 41 projects that were scheduled to be completed between 2011 and 2014, but weren’t. The projects include a replacement of the nurse call system, replacement of boilers, sprinkler installation, fire separation upgrades and mould and asbestos removal.

“The move to long-term care and especially palliative care is a tough decision for any family. The last thing they should have to be thinking about is whether the facility where their loved one will live is safe. But with their neglect of this facility and countless others around the province, that’s the position the PCs have put Alberta families in,” Notley said.
The documents also detail over $45 million dollars in replacements that will be needed over the next 3 years.

“The PCs have failed to maintain this facility in the good years and it’s the patients and clients living there who will suffer. We need a government that is willing to make seniors a priority by doing the work when it’s needed.”

Statement from NDP Leader Rachel Notley on Const. David Wynn’s death


EDMONTON – New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley released the following statement today:
 
“On behalf of Alberta’s New Democrats, I wish to convey my sincerest condolences to the family, loved ones and colleagues of Const. David Wynn of the St. Albert RCMP on his passing.
 
“Const. Wynn’s death is a senseless and tragic one. As a school resource officer, former paramedic and an RCMP officer, he dedicated his life’s work to protecting people, and in turn laid his life on the line for Albertans.
 
“We know he will be deeply missed by his loved ones, especially his wife and three children, as well as community members across the province.

"Our thoughts are also with Auxiliary Const. Derek Bond, and wish him a speedy recovery.

"Our deepest gratitude goes out to all law enforcement officers across the nation who risk their lives everyday for our safety. Thank you for all that you do."
 

Prentice must quit hiding and come clean with Albertans on Bill 10 before election: Notley


 

EDMONTON – The PCs must stop hiding and tell Albertans what they are going to do about GSAs—voluntary clubs that allow students to organize against homophobia and bullying in schools—before going into an election, said New Democrat leader Rachel Notley.

“Alberta is a modern, forward-looking province, but this PC government continues to lag far behind. We saw the Premier stall on this important issue and then go into hiding.  It was wrong then and it is wrong now.” Notley said. “Albertans deserve to know where the government stands on gay-straight alliances before they are asked to vote on who should lead them going forward.”

"People across this province have made it clear that it is time for action on this issue of fairness and equality. When the legislature resumes on March 10th we should act and act firmly. There is no good reason for delay.  My fear is that the merger of the PCs and the majority of Wildrose MLAs has pushed Jim Prentice even farther away from doing the right thing." said Notley

Last fall, Prentice introduced legislation to block a private members’ bill that would have ensured that every student had the right to establish a gay-straight alliance in their school if they asked for one.

Similar legislation exists in many provinces across Canada.

“The PCs cannot hide from this issue by calling a spring election. Albertans have said loud and clear that they believe in fairness, equality and in creating safer schools. Today, I’m calling on Prentice and the PCs to stop hiding and tell Albertans what they’re going to do to protect LGBTQ youth in our schools.”

PCs neglect of vital healthcare infrastructure threatens patient care


CALGARY – The PCs have been neglecting vital health infrastructure for years, knowingly compromising the safety of patients and heath care workers, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said today. 

Notley released AHS documents today, detailing nearly $100 million worth of overdue infrastructure maintenance projects in 3 major Calgary hospitals.
 
The Foothills Medical Centre is the largest hospital in Alberta and services more than 2 million patients every year. Rockyview General Hospital and Lougheed Centre provide acute and routine care to Calgary and much of Southern Alberta.
 
“Millions of Albertans rely on these hospitals to be safe and secure places that provide high quality care when they or their loved ones are sick or injured. The PCs chronic neglect of basic infrastructure maintenance put patients’ care at risk,” said Notley.
 
The documents, obtained through Freedom of Information requests detail 6 years of overdue projects, including overdue fire sprinkler installations and asbestos remediation and removal at Foothills as well as several roof replacements, some of them now 3 years overdue.
 
“Hundreds of patients were impacted when the roof caved in at the Misericordia in Edmonton. The PCs refused to replace it on time and the results for patients were disastrous. The entire first floor had to be closed down, and the ER could not accept new patients. We cannot allow this kind of neglect and deliberate delay to continue whether it’s here in Calgary or in Lethbridge or Red Deer or anywhere else. On behalf of all Albertans, I’m demanding that Jim Prentice and Stephen Mandel take maintaining our hospitals much more seriously,” said Notley.
 
“This PC government neglected our hospitals when times were good, so how can Albertans expect them to maintain them properly now? The PCs refuse to put the health and safety of Alberta families first and that is just plain wrong. Albertans want the care of patients to be the priority in our health care system and so do I.”
 

PCs failing Alberta’s most vulnerable: NDP


EDMONTON – This government has broken its promise to take care of Alberta’s most vulnerable citizens while the economy was flourishing. Now, as the price of oil drops we absolutely cannot afford to abandon these vulnerable families and children, NDP MLA David Eggen said today.
 
“Either Jim Prentice and the PCs are blind, or they choose not to see what is really going on in our province. Public services are already under incredible stress and we haven’t even felt the impact of low oil prices at the ground level. Prentice’s push to cut services is not only irresponsible, it’s naive and it’s Alberta’s most vulnerable families who will feel it the most,” said Eggen.
 
Eggen’s comments came in response to the Edmonton Social Planning Council’s latest report, A Profile of Poverty in Edmonton, shows that a startling number of Albertans are not sharing in the prosperity oil revenues have offered Alberta.
 
The report shows 1 in 8 Edmontonians are living in poverty and 1 in 5 children are living in poverty- a number that has gone up since 2006.
 
The report also shows that nearly half of all aboriginal children in Edmonton are living in poverty.
 
Edmonton also has a high percentage of working poor. The report shows 19.5% of working people in Edmonton are earning less than $15/ hour.
 
“Albertans want to feel proud of the quality of life that is enjoyed here in Alberta. They want strong communities and a responsible government that doesn’t play favourites with the wealthy. Prentice’s planned cuts to public services will only worsen an existing situation and hurt Alberta’s most vulnerable women and children,” said Eggen.

 

New documents details years of PC neglect of vital healthcare infrastructure in Lethbridge


LETHBRIDGE – Today, New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley released documents detailing years of PC neglect of public health infrastructure in Lethbridge.
 
“Southern Albertans and their families depend on the Chinook Regional Hospital to be a safe and secure place that provides high quality care when they or their loved ones are sick or injured. Chronic neglect of basic infrastructure maintenance by this PC government puts this at risk,” said Notley
 
AHS’ preservation list shows 37 incomplete and overdue projects totaling nearly $10 million dollars at the Chinook Regional Hospital and 16 overdue projects at St. Michael’s Health Centre totaling close to $5 million dollars.
 
“Some of the projects on this list are 5 years overdue. This isn’t just a delay; this is deliberate neglect by the PCs. It is irresponsible for this government to continue to sweep these issues under the rug, knowingly jeopardizing the safety of Albertans,” said Notley.
 
Chinook Regional Hospital is the main hospital in Southern Alberta, providing emergency and routine medical services to an estimated 150,000 patients.
 
“These neglected projects include fire alarm and sprinkler replacement, temperature control upgrades and elevator hydraulics replacement. These are projects that, left uncompleted, have a direct impact on the safety of patients and healthcare workers,” said Notley.
 
“This PC government continues to prove that Alberta families are not its priority.”
 
As Prentice and the PCs continue to promise cuts to public services and public infrastructure, Notley also called on him to commit to completing renovations at the Chinook Hospital.
 

PC incompetence has jeopardized public services: NDP


 
EDMONTON – Today Brian Mason, the New Democrat Finance and Treasury Board critic, said the PC’s deliberately unfair tax system and reckless cuts to corporate taxes are to blame for cuts to the vital public services Albertans count on.
 
“Prentice’s talk about a sales tax is an attempt to divert attention away from the unfair and negligent tax policies the PCs have been implementing for years.  The deliberately unfair tax system this government has imposed on Albertans has resulted in the underfunding of public services and delays in building new schools and hospitals,” said Mason. Alberta’s NDP rejects a sales tax because it hits middle class and working families harder than wealthy ones, he said.
 
The PC government has cut taxes on corporate profits by over one third to 10%, far lower than most other provinces. Alberta is also the only province in Canada with a flat tax on personal incomes. All other provinces in the country have progressively higher tax rates relative to income.
 
“This government has squandered windfall resource revenues in the good years, rewarding banks, energy companies and Alberta’s wealthiest individuals at the expense of average Alberta families. 30% of Alberta’s programs now depend on volatile royalty revenues. When oil prices drop, as they inevitably do, we lay off teachers and nurses. Albertans deserve better,” Mason said.
 
Implementing a progressive tax system and reversing cuts to corporate taxes would generate billions of dollars of additional revenue, he said.
 
“The economic situation Alberta faces now is the direct result of this government’s fiscal favoritism. The PCs have neglected to implement a stable revenue stream and instead have recklessly insisted that Alberta rely on boom and bust energy cycles to fund public services,” said Mason.

 

43 years and the PCs still can’t get it right: Mason


EDMONTON – New Democrat Treasury Board and Finance critic, Brian Mason released the following statement in response to the Premier’s comments at Economic Development Edmonton’s IMPACT luncheon today:
 
“The price of oil goes up and down. This is something every Albertan understands and so it is unconceivable how, after 43 years, this government is not prepared for low oil prices.
 
“Alberta has enjoyed windfall royalties, revenue other provinces could only dream of, but instead of creating a long term sustainable plan for the future of our province, the PCs have offered huge tax breaks for corporations and wealthy Albertans.
 
“The PCs have reduced corporate taxes by a third and maintained a flat tax that has given a massive break to very wealthy Albertans.
 
“The PCs have relied on volatile royalty revenues to pay for public services for far too long, and now as prices drop again they’re asking regular Albertans to pay for PC mistakes and mismanagement.
 
“We shouldn’t have to lay off teachers and nurses every time the price of oil drops.
 
“The New Democrats will not support a sales tax while corporations and very wealthy Albertans continue to get off scot-free. The NDP continues to call on the PCs to protect our key public services, to scrap the flat tax and introduce a progressive taxation system where every Albertan pays their fair share.”
 

A Statement from NDP Human Services critic David Eggen on the latest death of a child in care


EDMONTON – New Democrats Human Services critic David Eggen released the following statement today after learning of the death of a 19 month old girl who was receiving services from the province.

“I am saddened today to read about the passing of a 19 month old baby girl who was receiving government services. The government has reported this tragic death in a timely manner, however the job of improving child safety only begins with this publication. The next step is to investigate and report what went wrong but this government is making that extremely difficult.

“The New Democrats have repeatedly called on this government to give the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate the necessary resources to investigate every death of a child in care. Not only have the PCs refused to provide that funding, but they recently made a significant cut to the budget of the CYA office.

“This means that as the number of tragic child deaths appears to be increasing, the level of oversight is decreasing. Instead of putting the lives of Alberta children first, this government is tying the hands of the entity put in place to protect them.”

Notley calls Prentice’s eclipse of the Sunshine List regressive


EDMONTON –In breaking the PC promise to ensure that high ranking officials employed by Alberta’s boards and agencies are covered by  sunshine rules, Prentice is proving that nothing has changed under his management and his PC government will continue to protect the high salaries of government friends and insiders at the expense of transparency and accountability,  said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.

“Prentice has returned to the PCs' happy place of secrecy and entitlement at breakneck speed, proving that he doesn't understand regular Alberta families. While warning Albertans that they will feel the impact of government budget cuts, he’s committed to hiding outrageous salaries of PC friends and insiders from voter scrutiny,” said Notley.

Notley was reacting to a report released today that the Premier has reconsidered and decided the PCs will not force arm’s length bodies like Alberta Health Services and post-secondary institutes to disclose salaries over $100,000, even though the PC government committed to doing just that, last year.
 
“This government has a record of paying out millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses to employees of arm’s length organizations. These are salaries that are being paid with public dollars and the only way for Albertans to know that what these employees are being paid is fair, is to report it,” said Notley.
 
Alberta is one of only two Canadian provinces that refuse to report the salaries of arm’s length bodies.
 

NDP calls on Alberta Justice to fund life-saving drug addiction program


EDMONTON – Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley is calling on the Alberta government to commit to funding the Edmonton Drug Treatment and Community Restoration Court, a unique program in the city that provides a path to meaningful rehabilitation while at the same time improving community safety and saving money.

Thanks to a decrease in federal funding, staff with the drug court program will be out of a job March 31 — meaning the future of the program they provide to recovering addicts is in jeopardy.
 
Despite the province funding a similar Calgary program, Alberta Justice says they are looking at changing the program due to falling revenue.
 
“Changing the Drug Court is a penny wise, pound foolish decision on both ends of the spectrum. If anything, we should be looking at providing more funding to the program, not less,” Notley said.
 
“Not only does the program save the justice system $3.10 for every dollar spent, it also helps rehabilitate offenders so they can get help with their addictions and reduce the likelihood they will reoffend.”
 
“This is a very successful program that saves lives, but the PCs would rather save a quick buck rather than take a look at the long-term benefits of such a program.”

Decision of Ethics Commissioner highlights holes in Conflict of Interest rules: NDP


EDMONTON – Today, NDP Leader Rachel Notley called on Premier Prentice to fix the legislative loophole compelling today’s ruling by the Ethics Commissioner that Gordon Dirks’ modular school funding during the Calgary-Elbow by-election campaign was within the letter of the law.
 
The Ethics Commissioner dismissed the complaints against Dirks, noting that while his was a “purely political decision” that was “blatant political opportunism”, the Conflict of Interest Act contains no language prohibiting ministers from making funding decisions that would further their electoral fortunes. She also indicated that had she been asked she would have advised Dirks not to act on specific issues in his constituency during the by-election.
 
“Regardless of the loopholes in the existing legislation, Albertans know the difference between right and wrong. It is not acceptable that this PC government uses the public purse as its own personal campaign fund. This doesn’t pass the smell test and Albertans deserve better,” said Notley.
 
Notley also called on Dirks to publicly apologize for behavior that the Commissioner said was inappropriate and created an “unfortunate perception”.
 
“Albertans want to know that vital public infrastructure like schools are being delivered to the communities that need them most. There are students all over this province who have been waiting years to have schools built in their communities and this PC government is blowing them off while making decisions to benefit itself,” said Notley.
 
In December, the NDP called on the government to amend the Conflict of Interest Act so that it would prohibit ministerial campaigning with public funds. The Prentice PCs rejected that call.

Auditor General to investigate PCs infrastructure decision-making


EDMONTON – Today, NDP Leader Rachel Notley released a letter in which Alberta Auditor General Merwyn Saher advised Notley he would be proceeding with an investigation into the province’s methodology for calculating and reporting the conditions of healthcare facilities and the process for determining condition ratings of hospitals.

“Documents uncovered by the Edmonton Journal before Christmas suggest that the safe and secure medical facilities upon which Alberta families rely for good healthcare are in jeopardy as a result of either PC politics, PC negligence or both.  Albertans deserve to know how healthcare infrastructure decisions are being made so I am pleased the Auditor General will be investigating this issue,” said Notley.
 
In December, allegations arose that the PCs might be basing funding decisions for hospital capital projects on inaccurate information about the condition of the facilities, and in some cases, on the basis of partisan political calculations. Notley pointed to the case of Whitecourt’s hospital, its unexplained move up the priority list and the promises made by the PC MLA during the last election where the hospital’s construction was an important issue in a very close election race.
 
“This is an issue that has serious implications for the health of Albertans. It appears that the PCs are both understating the condition of disrepair of hospitals and in some cases, using their power to move projects up the priority list in order to benefit the political interests of PC caucus members at the expense of the health of those living in more needy communities” said Notley
 
In a written response to a request from NDP Leader Rachel Notley, the Auditor General has committed to an audit of the government’s capital planning process.
 
The audit was already a part of the AG office’s 2015-2016 business plan, but will now include a sharper focus on healthcare infrastructure.
 
Saher went on to write that the Auditor General’s office would not be proceeding with a separate request from the NDP to audit the expenses of each member of Premier Redford’s cabinet.
 
"On one hand, we're pleased that the Auditor General will be looking into expense procedures on an ongoing basis. On the other hand we disagree that potentially inappropriate behaviour of cabinet members in the past is irrelevant to Albertans,” said Notley.
 

Happy Holidays from Alberta’s NDP


Edmonton – Alberta’s NDP leader, Rachel Notley, has released the following statement:

“On behalf of Alberta’s New Democrats, I would like to wish all Albertans a happy holiday season.
 
“There are more than 35 festivals that Albertans celebrate during this time of year, many of them revolving around giving, thankfulness and spending time with loved ones.
 
“I hope that as you take this time to be with family and friends, you reflect on the blessings of the year past and look towards 2015 with hope, joy and peace.”
 
“Happy holidays, and all the best for 2015.”

Approved market modifiers mean 25 lumps of coal to thousands of Alberta students: Notley


Edmonton – NDP Leader Rachel Notley released the following statement after the PC government announced 25 separate tuition increases at Alberta post-secondary institutions.
 
“Students have been calling for these loopholes to be eliminated for years. Instead, the PCs have increased tuition for 25 programs, in some places up to 70 per cent.
 
“At a time when the strength of our oil and gas economy is faltering, our government should be encouraging diversification of our economy, and increasing access to post-secondary is pivotal to that strategy. But instead, the PCs are discouraging young people from receiving training by raising costs.
  
“Too many young people are starting their lives saddled with mountains of student loan debt, and this PC government just keeps piling on – even in a time of economic uncertainty. Of all the people who should be paying more during times like these, I don’t think students should be at the top of our list.
 
“I am also very troubled by the timing of this announcement – just two days before Christmas when they hope no one is paying attention. It is the second-most cynical thing I’ve seen from this PC government in the past six days.”

Statement from NDP Environment critic Brian Mason on delayed Climate Change Regulations


Edmonton – NDP Environment critic Brian Mason released the following statement on delayed climate change regulations from the PC government:

“Today, the PCs have again delayed much-needed changes to the regulations governing this province’s greenhouse gas emission, continuing their neglect of protecting our land, air and water.

“The PCs’ neglect of this crucial issue endangers our industry, as well as our natural environment. Alberta needs to take meaningful action to address our international reputation.

“Albertans deserve a government that takes action on these issues. We need to take action to ensure that those who profit from our province’s emissions are held responsible, to invest in renewable energy, and to ensure that industry is able to behave in a responsible manner by passing strong protections for our air and water.”

Cuts to Legislative Officers’ funding an attack on Democracy: NDP


EDMONTON – As the Prentice PCs work to swallow up the Official Opposition, they also made cuts today to the budgets of independent legislative officers- public servants tasked with holding this government accountable, NDP MLA David Eggen said today.

The PC dominated Legislative Offices Committee voted today in favour of cuts to the budgets of the Ethics Commissioner, Child and Youth Advocate, Privacy Commissioner, Ombudsmen, Public Interest Commissioner and Auditor General of 2%, which translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars of funding for the already under-resourced offices.
 
“The PC attacks on democratic accountability continue. These are independent offices created to scrutinize the government. They provide an essential service to Albertans and by cutting their funding the PCs are compromising their ability to do their jobs effectively,” said Eggen.
 
“These cuts serve as a signal that deeper cuts will be coming to the public services that Albertans rely on, things like healthcare and education. The PCs continue to prove that they will always put their own interests ahead of that of Alberta families,” said Eggen.

A statement from NDP Leader Rachel Notley in response to rumoured Alberta conservative merger


EDMONTON – NDP Leader Rachel Notley released the following statement today in response to rumours that the PC and Wildrose caucuses plan to merge:
 
“Today, it is starting to appear that the Alberta Conservatives have committed fraud on many of the people who supported them in the last election.
 
‘The Conservatives ran a campaign warning voters to defeat the Wildrose party. They whipped up anxiety and fear about a right wing government that they correctly described as out of touch with the values of most Albertans.
 
“Today, it seems the charade is over, the mask is removed and the Conservatives have proven they were never really worried about the policies of the Wildrose, they were merely worried about the politics of clinging to power.
 
“Albertans are caring, fair people. They want a government dedicated to public education and public healthcare. They want a government that believes in treating all people equally and they want a government that manages our energy resources for all citizens, not just the big energy companies.
 
“Alberta’s NDP will lead a government like that. Today, I’m asking every Albertan who voted Conservative to keep the Wildrose out of office, to take another look at us.
 
“Albertans deserve the progressive government they voted for in 2012. If they vote NDP in the next election, we will deliver it."

Government study shows Alberta children are falling behind

NDP calls on Dirks to implement recommendations


EDMONTON – Alberta is in the middle of a baby boom and by neglecting the developmental needs of thousands of kids today, this government is failing Alberta families as well as our future generations, NDP Education critic Deron Bilous said today.
 
The final report of the Early Child Development Mapping Project says Alberta children should be doing much better. The report shows less than 50% of young children in our province are developing appropriately by the time they reach Kindergarten.
 
The report also says Alberta children are not getting the crucial support they need during their developmental years.
 
“These kids are our future and the support and nurturing they receive in their formative years has a proven impact on their success. This government has an obligation to make that healthy development a priority,” said Bilous.
 
The report makes six recommendations including, continuing to monitor childhood development in Alberta, establishing a provincial task force and ensuring that a child’s socio-economic status does not dictate their access to a healthy, supportive, nurturing environment.
 
“Alberta needs a universal childcare program. Too many families are breaking the bank to afford to give their kids the start in life they deserve and for other families, the cost is simply out of their reach. Every child deserves the same chance at success, no matter how much money their parents make,” said Bilous.
 
The ECmap program officially ended in August and the team will wrap up its work by the end of the year. The PCs have yet to make any further commitment to collecting future data on early child development.
 
“Albertans want tangible evidence that progress is being made. By disbanding the mapping program, this government is refusing to be accountable for its deliberate neglect of Alberta families,” said Bilous. 
 
The New Democrats are calling on the Minister Dirks to implement all 6 of the recommendations put forward by the Early Child Development Mapping Project.

 

NDP calls on PCs to make GSA survey public


 
 EDMONTON – It’s time we had a clear picture of where GSAs are being allowed and where they are being blocked, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said today.
 
The New Democrats are calling on the PCs to release the details of a survey the government conducted into where and how many GSAs exist in Alberta schools.
 
“This government is using that data to decide how it will proceed with Bill 10, so Albertans have a right to see the information in a detailed format, broken down by school board,” said Notley.
 
The New Democrats have submitted a Freedom of Information request for the information gathered in the PCs GSA survey but Notley is concerned that given the typical timeline for FOIP requests, Albertans will not have access to the information they need for an adequate, informed, public debate.
 
“Education Minister Dirks released only consolidated information earlier in the session and it fails to provide Albertans with the real picture,” said Notley.
 
“Based on the the developments over the weekend, we know this issue is heating up. Albertans deserve access to all available information on what kind of support Alberta LGBTQ youth are receiving and where the roadblocks are."
 
The New Democrats continue to call for legislation to ensure GSAs are allowed in schools where students want them.
 

Ethic Commissioner’s findings show Accountability Act falls short: NDP


EDMONTON – In dismissing the complaints against Premier Prentice and Stephen Mandel, the Ethics Commissioner’s decision highlights the continued failings of PC accountability including their new act, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said today.

The Office of the Ethics Commissioner released its report today into a series of high profile public funding announcements made by Prentice and Mandel during their personal by-election campaigns.
 
The Commissioner has dismissed allegations from opposition parties that public dollars were used to further Mandel and Prentice’s own political interests.
 
“What we saw during the by-elections was obvious electioneering. The PCs paraded their candidates around, letting them make funding announcements on the public dime. They clearly stood to gain from their own political success. They used taxpayer’s dollars to publicize their campaigns and Albertans deserve rules to prevent this in the future,” said Notley.
 
“Less than two days after the Prentice PCs passed their act, we’ve got a clear example of why it doesn’t work.”
 
The New Democrats released the party’s own accountability priorities, prior to Bill 2 being read.
 
In it, Notley called for the elections legislation to be amended to ensure that government departments stop publishing information on their programs or activities, 90 days before an election date. Similar legislation exists in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
 
Similar allegations against Gordon Dirks will be dealt with in a separate report.
 

NDP call on PCs to stop Bill 9 and listen to condo owners


EDMONTON – Alberta's NDP are calling on the government to shelve Bill 9 until Albertans can be adequately consulted, Alberta NDP Service critic Deron Bilous said today.

Bilous joined the North Alberta chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute today in its call to put Bill 9 on hold until there has been adequate consultation with Albertans.
 
“This PC government, once again, is trying to rush legislation that puts friends and insiders ahead of the thousands of Alberta families that own condos,” said Bilous.
 
Of all homes sold annually in Alberta, 20% are condos, and a third of homes in Edmonton and Calgary are condos.
 
“This government has had five years and two tries to get this legislation right, and they are still falling short of protecting owners. We need to stop now, and listen to the needs of Albertans instead of neglecting them in favour of developers.”
 
“When 300 people come out to a public meeting to voice their concerns with legislation that should be a clear signal to the government that it’s time to step back. Maybe the third time will be the charm.”
 
CCI North Alberta has launched www.fixbill9.ca to encourage owners and stakeholders to urge the government to stop Bill 9 until changes can be made.

Notley introduces NDP accountability priorities


EDMONTON – In response to PC legislation claiming to increase government accountability, NDP Leader Rachel Notley called for a series of changes that would effectively protect Albertans from several forms of inappropriate behavior demonstrated by the PCs over the last several years.


“This PC party has continually flouted the basics of accountability and trustworthiness in government,” Notley said. “We thought, at the very least, that Jim Prentice’s widely-touted Accountability Act should fix the most obvious problems of recent years.”
 
The New Democrats are proposing a number of necessary clauses for Prentice’s upcoming Accountability Act, including: 
 

  • The Katz clause—changing the Elections Financing Act to prevent massive vote-buying donations
  • The Sandhu clause—changing the Conflicts of Interest Act to ensure that no member uses their position to lobby on an issue that directly impacts their financial interests
  • The Dirks clause—fixing the Elections Act to prohibit MLAs from using government resources during elections or by-elections
  • The Redford clause—changing the Conflicts of Interest Act to prevent MLAs from involvement in decisions that benefit political confidantes
  • The Berger clause—expressly prohibiting the waiving of cooling-off periods for former political staff or former MLAs and cabinet ministers
  • The PC Party clause—fixing the Elections Financing legislation to ensure that the Chief Electoral Officer is able to investigate allegedly improper donations without being barred by artificially short timelines.
  • The “Building Alberta” clause – passing legislation that compels the government to publicly disclose criteria for determining public infrastructure investment priorities, a clear public infrastructure priority list, and a detailed explanation for changing the priority list when that occurs.
  • The Friends and Insiders clause—amending the Conflicts of Interests Act to ensure that it applies to people employed by government agencies, including the Alberta Energy Regulator and Alberta Health Services.

 
“Each of our recommended changes corresponds to an obvious breach of the public trust on the part of this PC government. This isn’t rocket science—it’s just making the changes that are necessary for Albertans to believe that this government is actually taking accountability seriously.”


A backgrounder with additional information on each clause can be found here.
 

Statement from Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley on Accountability Act


EDMONTON – Alberta New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley issued the following statement upon tabling of the government’s Bill 2: The Accountability Act.
 
“After much fanfare from the PCs, this Accountability Act intentionally misses the mark on the most important ethical breaches of the PC government over the last few years. It fails to inject ethics and accountability back into the government benches.
 
“For example, by only addressing conflict of interest issues relating to political staff, the government is failing to address much more serious gasps in our conflict of interest legislation.
 
“This government has neglected the fundamentals of transparency, fairness and accountability again and again, and with this Accountability Act we see that the new management is very much the same as the old management.”
 
Notley said that she will introduce NDP amendments for the bill tomorrow.

NDP calls on the Auditor General to investigate PC manipulation of infrastructure priorities


 
EDMONTON – NDP Leader Rachel Notley called on the Auditor General today to investigate evidence that the PCs are manipulating healthcare infrastructure priorities for political gain.
 
“There is strong evidence to suggest this government is both understating the condition of disrepair of Alberta hospitals and, in a limited number of cases, using its power to move projects up the priority list in order to benefit to the PC party,” said Notley.
 
Documents obtained by the Edmonton Journal suggest that The Ministry of Infrastructure and Alberta Health Services intentionally lowered the infrastructure ratings of 18 Alberta Hospitals, in an effort to move them up the infrastructure priority list. In some cases the ratings were changed from Good all the way to Poor.
 
According to the Edmonton’s Journal’s analysis, of the 18 hospitals that had their Facility Condition Index altered, 14 are in ridings represented by PC MLAs. The remaining four are in ridings where a Wildrose MLA won the 2012 election by 1000 votes or less.
 
“The PCs have betrayed the trust of Albertans by intentionally misleading them and jeopardized their quality of healthcare by manipulating the system put in place to ensure they have access to care,” said Notley.
 
The Journal’s investigation also suggests that the way hospitals are rated and the way those ratings are made public was changed in an effort to understate the poor condition of healthcare facilities or hide the problem entirely.
 
“When you put both cases together, it’s clear there is no rationale behind these decisions, leaving Alberta’s most valuable infrastructure assets vulnerable to political manipulation,” said Notley.
 

PCs to blame for Edmonton’s crumbling healthcare infrastructure


EDMONTON – Today, NDP Leader Rachel Notley called on PCs to explain to Albertans the decades of neglect which new documents show jeopardize patient care throughout Edmonton.

“This government has clearly failed to adequately plan for our province’s future and as a result, we are in a situation where infrastructure issues in our hospitals have become so severe that they are now a risk to patients and staff,” said Notley.
 
Documents released by the NDP today show that according to AHS’ own Emergency Facilities Summary, five ERs in Edmonton are now considered to pose a level of risk that requires immediate action.
 
The document cites specific risks to patients. At the Royal Alexandra, the report identities “significant capacity pressures (i.e. inability to meet the demand for service in a timely and effective manner) in trauma, Emergency, Adult ICU.”
 
“It is unacceptable that this government has allowed the infrastructure of 5 Edmonton ERs to deteriorate to this point. The PCs have failed to provide Albertans with the safe access to care that they deserve,” said Notley.
 
The NDP also released documents which analyze the Surgery and Operative Services of Edmonton’s hospitals.
 
The report identified capacity pressures in the 6 Edmonton surgical centres. At the Royal Alex, the report suggests the Royal Alex cannot perform cancer surgeries in a timely manner because of infrastructure complaints.
 
“We are the richest jurisdiction in the country and yet Albertans who are waiting for potentially life-saving surgeries are being told they have to wait. It’s disgraceful,” said Notley.

Bill 10 fails Alberta students: NDP


EDMONTON – By introducing Bill 10, the PCs have maintained the status quo, ensuring that Alberta school boards can continue to ban GSAs in schools where students want them, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said today.

“The PCs feel they acknowledged LGBTQ students by removing 11.1 from the Charter of Rights. That is certainly a step forward, but Bill 10 fails to ensure safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ students, which is the other half of what we are fighting for,” said Notley.
 
“Neither the NDP or Alberta’s LGBTQ community consider a compromise on the fundamental human rights of the LGBTQ community a victory.”
 
By introducing Bill 10, the PCs have stifled debate over Bill 202 and by invoking closure on Bill 10, opposition debate over the shortcomings of the bill will be significantly limited.
 
“This government is doing everything it can to manoeuvre its way out of addressing this issue. Instead of facing Alberta’s LGBTQ students head on, it’s using strategic stall tactics and manipulation,” said Notley.
 
“Every single Alberta student deserves to be protected and every student should be treated equally no matter their race, religion, sexual orientation or sexual identity. These are fundamental rights of our kids and this government is failing to ensure they are upheld.”
 

Statement from NDP Leader Rachel Notley on PC Fiscal Outlook


EDMONTON – NDP Leader Rachel Notley released a statement following Premier Prentice’s Fiscal Outlook announcement:

“Once again Alberta families are the ones who will pay the price for this government’s failure to responsibly manage Alberta’s resource revenue.
 
“The PCs claim it’s a crisis every time the price of oil drops but this is not a new predicament they find themselves in.
 
“Alberta has been riding this revenue rollercoaster for years and yet Prentice announced today that the PCs are planning to cut public spending and that every Albertan will be impacted.
 
“Those who rely on our cherished public services cannot continue to pay the price for this government’s chronic mismanagement of what otherwise could be one of the healthiest and most stable economies in the world.
 
“It’s time we finally moved to a more fair, stable, predictable revenue system and we need to start by getting rid of the flat tax.”

Royal Alex making people sick

PC ‘solution’ will make the problem worse: Notley


EDMONTON – Documents obtained by Alberta’s NDP through a Freedom of Information request indicate long-neglected infrastructure problems at the Royal Alexandra hospital are contributing to infection rates and making patients sicker.

Alberta’s NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the documents indicate that deficiencies in the building contribute to infections and poor health outcomes, including:

  • Ventilation system that doesn’t meet minimum infection control standards,
  • High number of multi patient rooms risking cross patient contamination,
  • Insufficient hand washing facilities.
View the backgrounder for the FOIP documents here

“The Royal Alex is making patients sick,” said Notley.  “PC neglect of hospital upkeep and maintenance has again led to a situation where problems have gotten worse.  It’s going to cost a lot to clean up the latest PC mess in health care.”
 
The Royal Alexandra is the second hospital in Edmonton to face major infrastructure problems.  The Misericordia west Edmonton has faced flooding, pests, and other major problems.
 
The documents released by the NDP indicate the PCs are considering turning the renovation and operation of the hospital over to a private company with a public, private partnership (P3).
 
“After the debacle with P3 schools – it’s unimaginable that this government wants to turn our hospitals over to the private sector,” said Notley.  “This is a highly risky, ideological solution which puts the maintenance and sanitation of hospitals into the hands of private investors whose first duty will be to shareholders instead of patients.
 
“The documents themselves acknowledge that a P3 will limit the flexibility of the government to implement public policy. Patients need a health system that can move quickly – not one that has to consult with contractors when an emergency arises.”

Fix the shingles—NDP calls on the PCs to maintain the Misericordia


EDMONTON – This government has broken another promise by neglecting the hospital infrastructure that is needed to keep Alberta families safe and healthy, NDP Leader and Health critic Rachel Notley said today.
 
“If the PCs won’t listen to calls for a new hospital, they at least need to maintain the one we have. This government has committed less than 20% of the funding needed to keep the Misericordia safe,” said Notley.
 
“This government’s neglect is leading to the critical deterioration of the only hospital serving west Edmonton.”
 
The Misercordia hospital has requested $43 million in deferred maintenance- that’s work that needs to be done immediately to keep the hospital safe and functional for patients and front-line workers.
 
On top of that, documents released by the NDP today show that the Misercorida needs over $103 million for preservation projects just to maintain its current infrastructure.
 
“Just today the Finance Minister told reporters that if you have a barn and the shingles are falling off, you have got to fix the shingles. Well, Mr. Campbell- the shingles are falling off fast and furious and it’s time this government committed the adequate amount funding to fix the problem,” said Notley.
 
Despite repeated calls from the NDP, as well as patients and front line workers, the PCs have refused to commit to building a new Misericordia Hospital.

NDP continue to press Prentice PCs to support inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women


EDMONTON – NDP Aboriginal Relations critic said Tuesday that the Prentice PCs’ announcement of an education strategy about violence against Indigenous women will continue to fail to meet the needs of Indigenous Albertans until the PCs support an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, something Prentice has repeatedly refused to do.

“The entire Indigenous community across this country has repeatedly called for an inquiry,” Bilous said. “Raising awareness isn’t enough unless the government will provide meaningful action to get to the bottom of violence against Indigenous women in Alberta and across Canada.”
 
In September, all 48 Alberta First Nations Chiefs supported a resolution calling on Prentice to support an inquiry, which he rejected. Bilous noted that NDP Leader has also written to Premier Jim Prentice, asking him to support an inquiry.
 
“When you have the community of chiefs, activists and Indigenous Albertans all calling for an inquiry, it’s obvious that the government needs to change its response. We’re again calling today for the PCs to support an inquiry and we’ll continue to do so,” Bilous said.

Statement from NDP Municipal Affairs critic Deron Bilous on Homeless Count


EDMONTON – NDP Municipal Affairs critic, Deron Bilous, released the following statement regarding Alberta’s 2014 Homeless Count:
 
“The PCs are on track to break another important promise they have made to Albertans. This government has committed to ending homelessness by 2019 but the data released today shows the government isn’t doing enough to meet that goal.
 
“The homeless count for Edmonton is especially discouraging, up 3.5% from last year.  This is a clear indication that the PCs need to devote more resources to ending homelessness if they have any hope of succeeding.
 
“Youth homelessness in Edmonton has also seen a disturbing increase of 17% between 2012 and 2014. The data highlights another broken PC promise to eliminate child poverty and improve the health and wellbeing of Alberta’s youth.
 
“In both Calgary and Edmonton, tight rental markets and skyrocketing rental costs are making life unaffordable for families and making them vulnerable to housing insecurity.
 
“It’s time this government took responsibility for this issue by providing proper funding for affordable housing and giving municipalities the powers they need to better control their rental markets and make more low income housing available to those who need it.
 
“Vulnerable Albertans should not have to pay the price for this government’s neglect of such an important issue.”

 

NDP calls on Klimchuk to set measurable goals to implement OCYA recommendations


EDMONTON – The health and safety of children in this province is clearly not a priority for the Ministry of Human Services or the PCs, NDP Human Services critic, David Eggen, said today.
 
The Office of Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate released its annual report this week, highlighting recommendations that the office has made that the PCs have not implemented as well as the number of death and serious injuries of children that did not proceed to full investigation.
 
“The Advocate confirms what we have known for a long time, that this government refuses to take the necessary steps to protect Alberta’s children and blatantly ignores potential solutions put forward by experts,” said Eggen.
 
In previous reports, the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate has stressed a need for a structured process that ensures responses to recommendations translate into actual practises. Despite these repeated calls, the latest report says the Ministry of Human Services is still not taking meaningful action.
 
“The ministry’s responses do not address the recommendations but rather, include a summary of activities that are already underway and do not directly link to the advocate’s recommendations,” said Alberta’s Child and Youth Advocate, Del Graff.
 
“The PCs are throwing away an opportunity to learn from these tragedies and stop these serious injuries and deaths from happening again in the future,” said Eggen.
 
“Minister Klimchuk needs to take some serious time to think about the Advocate’s recommendations and lay out tangible, measurable goals to implement them so that Albertans know that real progress is being made.”
 
 The report also showed that only 10 of 35 serious injuries or deaths will receive a full investigate review this year.
 
“Although we’re happy to see that more of these serious cases received full review this year as compared to last year, we remain steadfast that every single serious injury or death deserves a full investigation. We continue to call on the Ministry to provide the Office of the Child and Youth Advocate with the necessary resources to carry out those investigations,” said Eggen.

Mandel needs to take responsibility for putting patients in danger: NDP


EDMONTON –Patient health and safety was put at risk today after a flood at the Misericordia forced the closure of the Emergency Room to new patients and diverted EMS to other hospitals.
 
“This government has put Albertan’s lives at risk by neglecting to take action on a serious situation they’ve known about for years. Stephen Mandel needs to take responsibility for failing to fulfill his role and put the health and safety of Alberta families first,” said Notley.
 
Despite the NDP and healthcare experts raising the alarm over the state of the Misericordia for over a decade, and the case for a new hospital being clearly and repeatedly made, during the 2014 by-election Mandel said that no action could be taken without further study.
 
During Oral Question Period today, NDP Leader Rachel Notley called the decision, incompetent and grossly negligent.
 
“The Misericrodia is literally falling apart. Front line workers are telling us that the cafeteria roof which has been leaking for years, finally collapsed today. The Minister doesn’t need more studies to know that the Misericordia cannot continue to adequately provide the quality of care that the booming population of Southwest Edmonton deserves,” said Notley.
 
The flood also forced the closure of the radiology unit and food prep area of the Misercordia. Because the hospital prepares all patient meals, it is possible that patients may now be transferred.
 
During Oral Question Period today, Premier Prentice refused to answer direct questions from NDP Leader Rachel Notley about whether the Health Minister should take responsibility for his neglect of the Misericrordia.
 
Meanwhile the Health Minister failed to provide a specific explanation about how the current crisis will be resolved.

 

NDP continues call for more affordable, regulated child care spaces


EDMONTON – NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Alberta needs a strong, publicly funded and publicly delivered child-care system that is prohibited from discriminating against kids and their families based on age or disability.

A survey released today by Public Interest Alberta shows that the majority of daycares that responded have waiting lists, sometimes growing to 300 families.

It also shows that even when childcare is accessible, it’s often unaffordable.The data reveals 82% of childcare centres feel that the provincial government’s funding is insufficient.

“The average Alberta family in Alberta is paying more than $1000 per month per child for child care. That is enough to deter many parents from returning to the workforce. Not only is it an unfair choice for moms and dads to have to make. It’s also hurting Alberta’s economy,” said Notley.

A TD Bank research survey suggests that for every dollar invested in early childhood education, the benefits to provincial and federal governments range from $1.49 to $2.78 through increased tax revenues and decreased social spending.

“This government has promised an end to child poverty, increase workforce participation and put the needs of Alberta families first. A properly funded childcare program is an absolutely necessary first step to keeping all of these promises and it’s long overdue,” said Notley.

The Alberta NDP supports the Federal NDP’s call for a national childcare program. The program is committed to a $15/day cap on childcare cost and the creation of one million new childcare spaces over the next 8 years.

Prentice continues to put Albertans last in Speech from the Throne: NDP


EDMONTON – Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley said that Jim Prentice’s first Speech from the Throne continues to put the real priorities of Albertans last.
 
“Our new Premier has clearly chosen to protect the bank accounts of the wealthy over the services Alberta families want and need.  From everything that I’ve heard from families around this province, better health care and education are their top priority. Instead, they are getting more service cuts,” Notley said. “This is exactly the kind of speech you’d expect from a Bay Street banker.”
 
“This speech represents a continued abandonment of the commitments the PCs made to voters in the last election and upon which the Premier’s majority relies.   In that sense, the broken promises in this speech represent only more of the same.”
 
The PCs’ Speech from the Throne clearly says that the government will not invest in services at the rate of inflation and population growth, meaning that again this year Albertans will see more and more services that don’t keep pace with the province’s growth.
 
“This speech totally neglects a crucial issue that all Albertans are concerned about: the 84,000 children in this province living in poverty. The PCs promised they’d deal with this in the last election, but the Throne Speech contains only a hollow silence.”
 
“This government’s commitment to environmental protection is the most anemic approach I’ve seen in years and can only mean that our air, land and water will continue to be threatened by government neglect.”

Notley outlines NDP caucus priorities for Fall Session


CALGARY – Today, the Alberta NDP caucus held their pre-session caucus meeting in Calgary to discuss their priorities for the upcoming fall session.

“Going into this session, we fundamentally believe that Albertans deserve better than more PC broken promises,” Notley said. “Albertans are frustrated by a government that promises big and delivers nothing.”

The fall session will be Rachel Notley’s first legislative session as leader of the Alberta New Democrats. Notley will continue to focus the party on holding the PCs accountable, especially on issues related to education and healthcare.

"55 of the PC MLAs in the legislature were elected on promises to increase funding to education, build many new long-term care homes and eliminate child poverty to name a few. They've broken every one of those promises. If the PCs don’t start delivering on their promises, the so-called new management of PC Incorporated will be revealed again as just an untrustworthy salesman.

“The PCs continue to make big promises – schools, seniors facilities, changes to health care, but we deserve better. Albertans want realistic, sustainable solutions they can plan their lives around and put their trust in.”

Alberta’s Health Minister caves to big tobacco: NDP


EDMONTON – NDP MLA, David Eggen, called on the government today to reconsider its decision not to ban menthol flavoured tobacco in Alberta.
 
“Today this government caved to big tobacco and it put the profit-making strategies of tobacco companies ahead of the health and safety of Alberta’s youth,” said Eggen.

“This legislation is meant to protect our children, and yet the most dangerous of the flavoured tobaccos will now be allowed to remain accessible to kids.”
 
Studies have shown over a third of youth smokers use menthol products and are three times less likely to quit smoking than non-menthol smokers.
 
“We know that flavoured tobacco products are the hook to get young Albertans addicted to cigarettes when they’re vulnerable, and that menthol products are especially dangerous for youth,” said Eggen.
 
By proclaiming Bills 206 and 33, the new Minister of Health and the new Premier have preserved the exemption for menthol. Mandel has publicly stated his reluctance to regulating menthol and his unwillingness to close the menthol exemptions numerous times.
 
“Alberta has one of the highest youth smoking rates in the country. Everyone should be committed to working together to prevent youth from falling into the addictions that will impact their wellbeing for the rest of their lives.”
 
In October, the NDP revealed close ties between the PC party, Stephen Mandel and a top tobacco lobbyist, Hal Danchilla. “Mandel needs to act to help protect and improve the health of Alberta’s youth, not to protect Big Tobacco’s bottom line,” said Eggen.
 
“From a public health perspective, from any reasonable perspective, there is no reason to continue to exempt menthol from regulation. I can only conclude that Mandel is looking out for his friends’ profit margins instead of Alberta youth.”

“Alberta has one of the highest youth smoking rates in the country. Everyone should be committed to working together to prevent youth from falling into the addictions that will impact their wellbeing for the rest of their lives.”
 
In October, the NDP revealed close ties between the PC party, Stephen Mandel and a top tobacco lobbyist, Hal Danchilla.

“Mandel needs to act to help protect and improve the health of Alberta’s youth, not to protect Big Tobacco’s bottom line,” said Eggen.
 
“From a public health perspective, from any reasonable perspective, there is no reason to continue to exempt menthol from regulation. I can only conclude that Mandel is looking out for his friends’ profit margins instead of Alberta youth.”

NDP launch text message campaign to connect with students on GSAs


EDMONTON – Today, NDP Education critic Deron Bilous put out a call for students to text their experiences trying to set up Gay-Straight Alliances in their schools, to provide real information about life on the ground for students who are trying to combat bullying.
 
The NDP has set up a special phone number that will allow students to text in their thoughts and experiences.
 
“We know, from talking to students around the province that there are students that have tried to start up anti-bullying clubs and GSAs and they’ve been stopped. We want to hear directly from those students the impact this has had on them and bring those experiences forward to the Legislature,” said Bilous.
 
A private member’s bill is set to be introduced this fall that would require schools boards to supports GSAs. In the spring, both PC and Wildrose MLAs voted against a motion. The NDP continues to call on the PCs to support GSAs.
 
“This government is making things harder for Alberta students, and they don’t need to. The PCs need to start putting students’ needs first.  It simply doesn’t make sense to me why we wouldn’t try to make our schools the best they can be, to help protect our kids from bullying and prepare them for life in a diverse world,” said Bilous.
 
Students can text their stories to 587-410-5790.

Statement from NDP Leader Rachel Notley on Remembrance Day


EDMONTON – NDP Leader Rachel Notley released the following statement on Remembrance Day:

“Along with Albertans across the province, today I will stop to reflect on the work of Canadian veterans. On behalf of Alberta’s New Democrats, I want to thank Canadian veterans for their service and their willingness to put their lives on hold and on the line to serve their country.

“I also remember today the three Canadian soldiers who have died in recent weeks. Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of Private Stephen Allen, Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent today.

“Today, I ask Albertans to not only remember our history of conflict and the brave Canadians who have served, but to commit to work for a future of peace.”

Statement from NDP Human Services Critic David Eggen on Food Banks Canada report


EDMONTON – New Democrat Human Services critic, David Eggen, released the following statement following the release of Food Bank Canada’s report “HungerCount 2014”.

The report shows the number of Albertans who are accessing food banks has risen to double the national average over the past year and points to a lack of affordable housing as part of the cause, in Alberta.

   “It’s a sad state of affairs when working Alberta families don’t have a roof over their heads or enough food to feed their children.
 
   “These are proud Albertans who work hard to support their families  but the cost of living keeps going up and in many cases, a full time wage isn’t enough anymore.
 
   “What does it say about Alberta when full-time working couples can’t afford to keep their kids bellies full, or keep a roof over their heads? The PC’s priorities are in the wrong places.
 
   “Prentice owes it to Alberta families to take immediate, meaningful steps to ensure that people can afford to work and live here with dignity."
 

NDP calls on Prentice to support investigation into Redford’s cabinet


EDMONTON – Albertans know they must follow the rules and abide by the law and they expect the leaders of this province to do the same and be subject to the same consequences when they don’t, NDP Leader Rachel Notley said today.
 
Rachel Notley has written a letter to the Auditor General asking him to expand the scope of his special investigation to include the expenses of all members of Redford’s cabinet.
 
“All of the revelations so far have been founded on Saher’s original audit, but that report was arbitrarily limited to the former Premier’s office. The PCs have tried to use Redford as a scapegoat for what may be a much larger problem,” said Notley.
 
“Auras of Power can’t be contained; they leak. The report uncovered enough evidence that any reasonable person would doubt that this abuse of public money was limited to Redford’s office,” said Notley.
 
Notley has written a second letter to Premier Prentice, asking him to support the call. Both letters can be found here.
 
“Prentice claims that accountability and transparency are priorities for him. Now it’s time for him to walk the talk. It’s reasonable that Albertans feel concerned and it’s important that Prentice take steps to provide the answers they are looking for,” said Notley.

Notley calls on PCs to commit to continual funding for legal aid


EDMONTON –NDP Leader and Justice critic Rachel Notley is calling on the PCs to find a meaningful, long term solution to the legal aid crisis in Alberta.

Justice Minister, Jonathon Denis announced new funding for legal aid today, but said the money is a one-time infusion and may not be included again in the next provincial budget.
 
“Today’s funding announcement comes too little, too late. This $5.5 million is drop in the bucket of what is actually needed to ensure Albertans have fair access to justice in this province,” said Notley.
 
Legal Aid Alberta said earlier this year that it needs at least another $8 million per year to continue to operate. It has predicted a $15 million dollar deficit by 2016-2017.
 
“It’s not enough. Albertans who work a full time job and make minimum wage are still making too much money to qualify for legal aid. They are being denied their fundamental right of access to justice because they can’t afford representation,” said Notley.
 
The Alberta New Democrats are calling for the PCs to commit to long-term funding for Legal Aid Alberta.
 
“The PCs need to prove to Albertans that they take responsibility for justice in this province by committing to funding legal aid, long term rather than a one-time infusion that leaves Legal Aid $10 million dollars short of what it needs to keep its doors open,” said Notley.
 

PCs fall short in protecting Alberta seniors: NDP


EDMONTON –The PCs have proven that safety for Alberta seniors is not a priority under the Prentice government, New Democrat Seniors critic David Eggen said today.
 
“Internal government documents show it will cost $250 million to get sprinklers into senior’s facilities. The $70 million dollars the PCs committed today falls far short and leaves thousands of seniors without protection,” Eggen said.
 
The PCs announced today that they’re committing to upgrade fire safety measures in government-owned seniors facilities across the province. Prentice couldn’t say how many facilities would be upgraded or what the timeline for completion would look like.
 
“The tragedy in Quebec earlier this year brought this issue into the spotlight. We’ve been calling on this government to install sprinklers and adequately staff all care facilities, not just in government-owned facilities,” said Eggen.
 
In January a deadly fire ripped through a senior’s home in L’Isle- Verte, Quebec, killing 32 seniors. Ontario has enacted legislation requiring sprinklers and retrofits in all facilities.
 
“Sadly, it seems it will take a tragedy here at home to convince this government to take action. The time is now. We need to be proactive and require sprinklers and retrofits in all seniors’ facilities in the province,” said Eggen.
 
Roughly 42,000 seniors are currently living in lodges, assisted living and long term care facilities in Alberta.
 
69% of seniors facilities don’t have sprinklers. 32% of seniors lodges don’t have sprinklers.
 

NDP Leader Rachel Notley releases critic, committee assignments

Increases focus on status of women, housing


 
EDMONTON – New Democrat Leader Rachel Notley released critic and committee assignments for her caucus today, with an increased focus on housing and the status of women.
 
“Albertans want this province to be fair, they want Alberta to be a province where everyone has a safe place to call home,” Notley said. “During our leadership race, David Eggen called for a portfolio focusing on women’s issues. It was a good idea. By naming a critic responsible for women’s issues and a critic for housing, the New Democrats are committing to bring those priorities forward throughout the upcoming session. We are committing to Albertans that we will bring forward the issues that matter, not be bound by the government’s agenda.
 
“It is with that in mind that I’ve decided to take on the Health care portfolio. Alberta urgently needs leadership on that file, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to deliver.”
 
Notley said that her caucus will continue to bring forward issues that are important to Alberta families.
 
“Deron Bilous has proved to be an effective voice for schools and students in Education, and I’m pleased that he’s committed to continuing that work.
 
“David Eggen has long been one of the hardest-working members of the Legislature. I know that he will continue to bring that kind of work ethic in Human Services and Seniors.
 
“Finally, I’m very pleased that Brian Mason will be taking on Energy and Environment,” Notley said. “Brian has always rejected the notion that we can’t protect our air and our water and create jobs at the same time and that’s the perspective that these files need in Alberta.”


Click here for a complete list of critic and committee assignments.

Mandel’s personal relationships may be clouding his objectivity: NDP

NDP calls on Mandel to ban all flavoured tobacco


EDMONTON- New Democrat candidate for Edmonton Whitemud, Dr. Bob Turner, called on Health minister Stephen Mandel to commit to a full ban on flavoured tobacco, including menthol cigarettes, despite his personal relationships with tobacco lobbyists.

“The research is there, the support from the House is there, I want to see Mandel commit to banning all flavoured cigarettes now, during these by-elections, while people are paying attention,” said Turner.

Numerous studies have shown that menthol is the flavor of tobacco most dangerous to Alberta youth. 1 in 3 youth smokers are smoking menthol cigarettes and are three times less likely to quit smoking than non-menthol smokers.

Despite this conclusive evidence, the legislation to ban flavoured tobacco, which was passed nearly a year ago, has not been proclaimed.

“All the minister has to do is sign off on it and it would be law. There is no reasonable explanation that the PCs haven’t moved forward,” said Turner.

Yet, despite the bill passing third reading almost unanimously in November 2013, the PCs have refused to sign off on it.

After the annual Health Ministers meeting in Banff, last month, Mandel refused to reveal to media where he stood on the issue, telling Canadian Press, “I don’t want to answer yes or no to things that are still up in the air and Menthol is still up in the air.”

“The only reason I can fathom that Mandel hasn’t moved forward with this important legislation is because his objectivity is being clouded by his personal relationships with tobacco lobbyists,” said Turner.

Hal Danchilla is a long-time PC strategist who currently sits on the PC party’s finance committee. He is also a donor who, 13 days after the flavoured tobacco legislation was first introduced, registered as a lobbyist for Rothmans, Benson & Hedges, which has a unique interest in seeing an exemption for menthol cigarettes under Bill 206. 

Patricia Mitsuka is currently Premier Prentice’s Principal Secretary, and formerly worked as Mandel’s Chief of Staff. In the space between those positions, she worked for Hal Danchilla’s lobbyist firm, Canadian Strategy Group.

Read our full backgrounder here.

“Mandel’s connection to the tobacco industry is more than suspicious. I see no other reason to hold back on the proclamation of the legislation, except to appease the interests of his friends,” said Turner.
 

Notley continues commitment to growth in Calgary


CALGARY- On her first visit to Calgary as New Democrat leader, Rachel Notley said that the city is a priority for the party and that New Democrats will build on the work done in these by-elections.
 
"I started my leadership campaign here and today I'm back to tell Calgarians that the New Democrats are committed to building on the work that was done by our three fantastic candidates in these by-elections," Notley said. "The candidates who are running for us here are the next generation of Calgarians - intelligent, young professionals who know that Albertans deserve better.
 
"Our values are Calgary's values - we believe in investing in services for Alberta families. We believe in building the necessary infrastructure to build a vibrant Calgary. And, for the thousands of people in Calgary who are tired of PC promises and looking for a progressive alternative to the Wildrose, the New Democrats are ready to be that alternative."
 
Notley pointed to her response to skyrocketing rents in Calgary as evidence that the concerns of Calgarians are shared by the Alberta New Democrats.
 
"We're the only party willing to take a strong, well-researched, feasible position on how to deal with rents that are no longer affordable for too many Calgarians," Notley said.
 
Notley was elected leader of the Alberta New Democrats on Saturday evening and yesterday traveled to Calgary to support the party's by-election candidates in the final week of their campaigns. 
 
Notley spent Wednesday evening knocking on doors with Calgary-Foothills candidate, Jennifer Burgess.
 
"We have three amazing candidates working very hard in Calgary to make sure people know what the New Democrats stand for. Growing this party here in Calgary is a top priority for me as leader and I'm proud of the work we've started with these great candidates. But we're not finished here yet." 
 

Statement from NDP Leader Rachel Notley on Ottawa shooting


EDMONTON - Alberta NDP Leader, Rachel Notley, released the following statement on the events that took place this morning, in Ottawa.

"I was deeply saddened and concerned to learn of the events that transpired this morning in our nation’s capital.
 
"On behalf of the Alberta New Democrats, I extend my condolences to the family and friends of the Canadian Forces reservist who was gunned down while standing guard at the National War Memorial, this morning.
 
"My thoughts are with friends and colleagues who were at Parliament Hill this morning, as well as their families who had to watch these horrifying events unfold on television.
 
"I'd like to extend my gratitude to the brave men and women who work as law enforcement officials and emergency responders, who risk their lives every day for our safety, and to the police officers who are now doing everything they can to investigate this tragedy.
 
"As we continue to watch the events unfold, our hearts are with Ottawa tonight."

Internal documents show PCs aware of private health clinic skirting the law


EDMONTON - The PC government has been turning a blind eye to private for-profit healthcare clinics that are double-billing Alberta taxpayers.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information legislation show a pattern of evasion and inaction by government in the face of mounting evidence that the private health-care clinic has been providing two-tiered health care and double-billing in contravention of the Alberta Health Care Insurance Act.
 
"Their lack of action tells you all you need to know about where they stand on two-tiered health care. They're letting American-style health care take root in Alberta," Edmonton-Whitemud candidate Dr. Bob Turner said. "To make things worse, this government has been shirking it's responsibility to taxpayers by turning a blind eye to private, for-profit clinics like these double-billing both the public and their clients."
 
The new documents released today by the New Democrats include an e-mail chain discussing questions about the legality of Edmonton's Copeman Healthcare Clinic. Although the government offered a generic commitment to "fair and equitable access," internal e-mails reveal persistent concerns about the clinic: "there is not a clear distinction between insured and uninsured services."
 
"The government lied to the public," Turner said. "For years, they've been telling concerned Albertans that these clinics are fine, yet we now know that the federal government and senior provincial staff have been questioning the legality of these clinics. Albertans believe in public health care and they deserve a government that protects it."
 
A second document, an "Advice to Deputy Minister" briefing reveals that the province has been repeatedly warned by the federal government over private Copeman-style clinics. Despite these warnings, the province has committed to no action other than striking a taskforce.
 
"Anyone with any experience in Alberta's health care system who looks at the Copeman Clinic's billing records will see that they look fishy," Dr. Turner said. "With Stephen Mandel's record of privatizing crucial public services, he's without question not the right person to fix two-tier health care."
 

NDP calls on Mandel to attend important health debate


EDMONTON - Today, New Democrat candidate for Edmonton-Whitemud Dr. Bob Turner learned that his opponent Stephen Mandel will not be attending a critical all-candidate forum on health care.

Dr. Turner is calling on the PC appointed Health minister to attend the forum tonight, October 20th at 7:30pm, hosted by the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA).
 
"If Mandel is unwilling to address questions regarding health care today, I worry about his willingness to address the same questions in the future," said Dr. Turner. "Albertans deserve better than a Health minister unwilling to speak with them about issues pertaining to health."
 
Tonight's debate will be co-hosted by CARNA and CPSA , consisting of six questions facing Alberta's health care system, including one on the overall structure and governance of Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Alberta Health.
 
"I believe it's important for Albertans to hear from the unelected Health minister in a public forum devoted to critical questions facing health care in Alberta," said Dr. Turner. "Albertans deserve to know how the current minister would respond to issues facing these two colleges."
 
Dr. Turner is committed to attending all public debates and forums in Edmonton-Whitemud, including tonight's forum.
 
 
Details for tonight's forum:
 
What: An Edmonton-Whitemud Candidate Forum on healthcare in Alberta
When: October 20, 2014
Time: 7:30pm-9:00pm
Where: Snowvalley Chalet, Whitemud Recreation park