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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

NDP calls on Dirks to fix space crunch in Elbow schools


CALGARY - Alberta New Democrat candidate for Calgary-Elbow, Stephanie McLean, called on unelected PC Education Minister, Gordon Dirks, to deal with overcapacity schools in Calgary Elbow.
 
"The PCs have mismanaged our school system into a state of crisis," said McLean. "Schools in Calgary-Elbow are bursting at the seams, and parents are telling us the situation has reached a point where the quality of education their children are receiving, is suffering."
 
A number of parents of students in Calgary-Elbow wrote letters to by-election candidates in Calgary-Elbow, calling for a commitment to ease the capacity issues by providing more portables.
 
According to the Calgary Board of Education's 2013-14 enrollment report, William Reid School was at 105 percent capacity - and growing. Elboya School is overcapacity, according to the same 2013-2014 enrollment report, by 130 percent. 
 
The Calgary board of Education has requested portables to ease the capacity crunch, but parents want to see confirmation from Gordon Dirks that the request will be approved and fulfilled.
 
"Parents shouldn't have to advocate for adequate classroom space. This infrastructure is a provincial responsibility. The PCs need to offer an immediate solution to this capacity crisis," said Mclean.
 
"Albertans deserve better. Parents and students in Calgary-Elbow deserve better, that is why I am calling on Mr. Dirks to listen to parents in Elbow and secure the portables they so desperately need."

Alberta New Democrats welcome Rachel Notley as new Leader


EDMONTON – Today, 3,589 members of the Alberta New Democrats chose Rachel Notley as their leader. The convention was attended by over 500 enthusiastic party members.

“I'm very excited about the future of this party – Albertans deserve better than PC arrogance and Wilrose extremism and they are turning to the New Democrats as the modern, progressive alternative,” Notley said.

Notley received 70.03% of the vote from party members on the first ballot.

“I want to thank Brian Mason for his guidance and the work that he has done to grow the party to where it is today,” said Notley. “I also want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to both David Eggen and Rod Loyola for the campaigns they ran and the committment they showed.”

Rachel Notley has served as MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona since 2008.

NDP: PCs push ahead with privatization agenda, despite risk to patients


EDMONTON - Despite serious concerns from industry experts, and mounting evidence of patient risk, the PCs are pushing ahead with their decision to privatize lab services, NDP candidate for Edmonton-Whitemud, Dr. Bob Turner, said today.
 
Sonic Healthcare Limited announced Thursday, on its website, that it has been selected to take over lab services in Alberta. The PCs awarded the Australian company a $3 billion dollar, 15 year contract.
 
In the announcement that seemed to be aimed at shareholders, Sonic Healthcare announced, it expects to generate $200 million in revenue from the AHS contract.
 
"Mandel and Prentice are not even elected, and already they are presiding over the largest privatization contract in Alberta's history,"said NDP Health critic, David Eggen.
"Not only that, but they've chosen a company that appears to prioritize profit above quality service."
 
In 2013, Sonic Healthcare admitted, it failed to notify Australian health authorities when it diagnosed a patient with legionnaire's disease - a breach of its legal obligation. 
 
"This decision to move ahead with this plan has serious implications for patient safety, the speed and delivery of lab results, workloads for healthcare workers and protocol in the event of a natural disaster, and yet the PCs are forging ahead with it." said Eggen.
 
In October 2013, the NDP released a letter, signed by 16 pathologists, concerned about the impact lab privatization would have on patient safety.
 
The letter reads, in part: "We remain extremely concerned regarding the totality of this decision and the use of public funds to support this degree of privatization."
  
"Albertans deserve a government that is willing to put their needs, first, and the PCs have proven they won't," said Turner.

PCs will break promises on building schools…again

Social Credit government built more schools in Edmonton than PCs did


Edmonton - The PCs will, yet again, plead poverty on being able to build long-overdue schools for Albertans, New Democrat Education and Infrastructure critic Deron Bilous said today in front of an empty field where a school is supposed to be built. Bilous was joined by Edmonton-Whitemud NDP candidate Dr. Bob Turner

"The PCs have promised these schools, crossing their fingers that oil prices would hold steady," Bilous said. "But their revenue has again dropped substantially from what they had projected, and that means that, yet again, they will break their promises to build these overdue schools for kids here in Edmonton."

In the PCs 2014-2015 projected budget, oil prices were predicted to sit at $95 US per barrel. Oil closed at $79.98 US per barrel last night.

According to a study published by the Bank of Montreal (BMO) last week, Alberta should anticipate a $1.2 billion shortfall in oil royalties if prices stay at or below recent levels for the remainder of the fiscal year, as they are predicted to.

"The PCs have promised billions of dollars worth of new schools to Albertans. This bump in the revenue rollercoaster means they won't have the budget to build the schools they've been promising for years," said NDP candidate for Edmonton-Whitemud, Dr. Bob Turner. "Schools in Edmonton-Whitemud continue to be overcrowded, and further delay on the Terwillegar Heights school is simply unacceptable."

To date, the PCs still have not completed the 35 schools they promised in 2011 or the 50 schools they promised in 2013.

The PCs are so far behind in building schools that according to online data from the Edmonton Public School Board, Edmonton Catholic School Board and Infrastructure Alberta, the Social Credit Party actually built more 66 more schools in Edmonton than the PCs.

"To think that the Social Credit Party had more success than the PCs in building necessary infrastructure is appalling. Our city is growing quickly, and this government continues to cross their fingers, close their eyes and hope for the best when it comes to building for the future of our communities," said Turner.

"If the PCs continue to depend on the volatility of natural resource revenue to build schools, Albertans can expect students to remain in make-shift classrooms," said Bilous.

The New Democrats continue to call for the PCs to create a steady, predictable source of funding for public services by reversing tax cuts to extremely wealthy Albertans and corporations.

Mandel money needs to stay out of provincial politics


EDMONTON - Today, New Democrat candidate Dr. Bob Turner said Stephen Mandel needs to set the record straight on his position regarding election donation laws.

Mandel is on record saying changes made in 2010 to the Local Authorities Election Act are "patronizing" because they imposed new limits on campaign contributions.

In response to changes that put caps on large donations, the former mayor and unelected health minister had this to say:

"It's offensive, it's degrading and it absolutely infuriates me, and when I talk to the minister I will give him a blast...I think it's stupid...I can't believe the audacity of this government."  -Edmonton Journal, February 18, 2010

"The unelected health minister has shown Albertans repeatedly that he has a blatant disregard for the province's election donation laws," said Dr. Bob Turner. "In light of the illegal donations he accepted from the Mazankowski, Mandel needs to tell us why he is on the record saying the province's donation laws are 'ridiculous'."

Patricia Misutka, Mandel's former Chief of Staff and Premier Prentice's Principal Secretary, said in 2010 that campaign contribution caps were unnecessary.

In 2012, the PCs were subject to investigation when it was revealed that they accepted a $430,000 donation from Daryl Katz, who has close ties to Stephen Mandel.

"Prentice and Mandel have close ties to the PCs' big corporate donors, and they're taking advice from the same people who think politics is about money, not people," said Dr. Bob Turner. "Albertans deserve politicians who will abide by the rules and who want the process to be more open and transparent. The people of Edmonton Whitemud deserve an MLA who understands that big money doesn't need a bigger role in politics."

An Alberta New Democrat government would lower Alberta's contribution limit and ban all corporate and union donations.
 
 

Time to start thinking like owners


CALGARY - NDP candidate for Calgary-West, Brian Malkinson, says a report released last week by the Alberta Federation of Labour shows that when it comes to natural resources it's time for Alberta to start thinking like owners again.

The report, "Upgrading our Future: The Economics of In-Province Upgrading", written by, Ed Osterwold, senior partner with the UK-based Competition Economists Group (CEG), shows that in-province upgrading, refining and petrochemical manufacturing is a highly profitable potential in Alberta.
 
"Alberta has a proud history of thinking like owners and getting the most for our resources," said Malkinson. "But due to bad management by the PCs, former Premier Peter Lougheed's vision for an industry that belonged to Albertans has all but disappeared down the pipeline."
 
The report also shows that the average wages associated with this potential increase in upgrading and refining would be among the highest in Canada.
 
"The Prentice PCs are content to rip and ship the most valuable product, and some of the highest paying jobs in Canada," said Malkinson. "Albertans deserve a government that will put their interests first."
 
A copy of the complete "In-Province Upgrading" CEG report can be found here.

Health care negotiations derailed by new minister’s negligence


EDMONTON - New Democrat candidate, Dr. Bob Turner, says unelected Health minister, Stephen Mandel, must immediately find a way to resume fair negotiations for Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) and Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA), two of Alberta's largest health care unions.
 
Last week, Alberta Health Services (AHS) informed the two unions that AHS could not discuss wages or other monetary items, leaving 60,000 health practitioners uncertain about their future contracts.
 
"These health professionals deserve better than a health minister who can't manage to negotiate a fair contract with them," said Dr. Turner. "Not only does this unelected, unqualified minister have no health credentials, but his lack of control over this current round of negotiations clearly shows he lacks the necessary management skills as well."
 
AUPE and HSAA was set to resume talks with AHS last week. The unions had been planning to begin exchancing monetary proposals last week, but without prior notice AHS said they would not be offering their opening proposals.
 
"This is unacceptable in a province whose health care system is said to be on the brink of 'collapse'," said Dr. Turner. "What this unelected minister needs to do right now is give AHS an immediate mandate to resume negotiations, and provide confidence to health care professionals and Albertans who will be adversely affected by this negligence." 
 
"Albertans deserve better than a health minister and government that puts electioneering ahead health care."
 

NDP call on on Premier to support inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women


CALGARY- Today, Alberta New Democrat candidate Jennifer Burgess demanded that Jim Prentice reverse his position and join the call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women.
 
"Our new premier's failure to support a national inquiry is a failure to every aboriginal woman and girl in Alberta," said Burgess. "It is unacceptable and New Democrats are standing alongside first nations and demanding meaningful action from this PC government, which includes joining the call for a national inquiry."
 
Prentice recently said that he does not think an inquiry is needed, putting him at odds with several premiers across the country, including Saskatchewan's Brad Wall, Ontario's Kathleen Wynne, and Manitoba's Greg Selinger, who have all called for an inquiry.
 
'While other premiers are standing up to Stephen Harper and demanding a national public inquiry, Prentice just echoes Harper's weak excuses," said Burgess. "Albertans deserve better than a premier who refuses to stand up to Harper and demand justice for indigenous women and girls."
 
Burgess was joined by community activists Chantel Chagnon and Walter MacDonald White Bear, who continue to bring light to the importance of a national inquiry.

Alberta NDP host rally for a new hospital in Southwest Edmonton


EDMONTON- Over one hundred people joined the Alberta NDP outside the Misericordia Community Hospital today, to rally for a new hospital to be built in Southwest Edmonton. 

"The infrastructure at the Misericordia is crumbling. The building is chronically over-capacity. Edmonton health care workers deserve a higher quality workplace, and patients deserve to feel comfortable and safe," said NDP Leader Brian Mason.

The turnout for the rally included NDP Leader Brian Mason, NDP MLAs, members of unions who work in the Misericrodia, citizens who live in the area and NDP candidate for Edmonton-Whitemud, Dr. Bob Turner.

The crowd chanted "New Mis Now," a call for a new hospital to be built in Edmonton.

"This is unacceptable for a public health care facility. We have the best health care workers in the country and those workers deserve to work in a facility where they feel comfortable, safe and appreciated," said NDP candidate for Edmonton-Whitemud, Dr. Bob Turner.

The Misericordia regularly overheats, making it uncomfortable for patients and staff. In December 2013, documents obtained through a Freedom of Information request show the Cardiac Unit reached 33 degrees. Management and staff were breaking down in tears over their discomfort.

The New Democrats have previously released FOIP documents that show the call systems in the Misericordia are often broken, and patients cannot communicate with nursing staff. There are areas of the hospital where staff must wear protective equipment to enter, due to mold level.

The documents also show a hole in a delivery room floor was left, growing, for 4 years, filling with blood and fluid regularly, and causing an infection hazard.

"Albertans deserve accessible quality health care and the current government is falling short," said Health Science Association of Alberta VP, Mike Parker. "Southwest Edmonton needs a new hospital, not a band-aid solution to a long-term problem. Edmonton is growing every day. Employees and patients deserve a commitment from this government to build a new facility, now."

"This is a critical time for health care in Alberta. Albertans deserve the security of knowing that if they or their loved ones become ill, there is a nearby facility that can care for them. Albertans deserve better than crumbling hospitals," said Turner.

The Alberta NDP have launched a petition to build a new Misericordia Hospital, which can be signed at NewMisNow.ca

Modulars are ready and waiting; PCs need to act now: Bilous



 
EDMONTON – New Democrat Infrastructure and Education critic Deron Bilous said the PCs' announcement today of a long-term education infrastructure plan doesn’t deal with the immediate needs of schools and students.

The Alberta New Democrats have learned 45 modular classrooms are still outside the warehouse waiting to be delivered to crowded schools.

“The Premier announced a long term plan today to build schools in Alberta. Of course we need a long term plan, but we also need an immediate plan to deal with the hundreds of students who are learning in make-shift classrooms like libraries, closets and offices,” said Bilous.

Modus Structures was one of two companies contacted to build modular classrooms for Alberta schools. In an interview with Metro News in September Chief Executive Cal Harvey, said:

“We have fulfilled our contract and have turned all of those classrooms over to Alberta Infrastructure... The vast majority of the classrooms we built were delivered by the end of June, as per our contract”
However, according to Modus Structures, as of today, 45 units are still sitting in the construction yard waiting to be picked up.

“I have tried to get to the bottom of this, but Alberta Infrastructure is playing the blame game,” said Bilous
Alberta Infrastructure told the New Democrats that it is the responsibility of individual school boards to pick up the modulars.

“At the end of the day, education infrastructure is a provincial responsibility.  The PCs have dropped the ball by not taking the steps to have these modulars delivered to the schools that need them. Albertans don’t need more finger-pointing – they want to see action now.

"Alberta families deserve to know the crunch in our schools will be resolved."

Latest Auditor General report shows PCs’ lack of planning for Albertans’ future: Mason


EDMONTON – The latest findings of Alberta’s Auditor General report shows that the PC government is still coming up short across the board, said NDP Leader Brian Mason today.
 
From long-term care to protecting our environment and collecting royalties, the PCs are consistently incapable of providing for the needs of Albertans.
 
“When the government fails to take action on long-term care, and fails to properly monitor this province’s biggest revenue source, they are failing Albertans.”
 
Mason said he was extremely disappointed that the Auditor General did no actual site-visits to Alberta health care facilities as he prepared his report on facility conditions and understaffing.  In 2005, then Auditor General Fred Dunn conducted a first-hand study of the situation in long term care facilities.  Given the disturbing practices he uncovered, it is well past time an equally in-depth review is conducted.  Reviews at the system level are insufficient to protect vulnerable citizens.
 
“He needs to get out of his office and into some of these nursing homes to see conditions for himself,” Mason said. “Many seniors are still suffering due to understaffing and neglect.”
 
When it comes to royalties, Mason said he is deeply concerned. 
“Not only does Alberta have amongst the lowest royalties in the world, but our own government is unable to correctly estimate what our resource revenue is worth.”  The Auditor General found instances of overstated royalty revenue by $32 million and net income by $42 million, and understated liabilities by $23 million (page 126).
 
“Incorrectly estimating revenues and liabilities by tens of millions of dollars directly impacts our ability to plan and budget for the services that Albertans need.  Frankly, this is an embarrassment and a costly one,” said Mason.

AG report reveals PCs can’t be trusted to effectively monitor our air, land and water


EDMONTON – Reacting to the latest Alberta Auditor General report, Alberta New Democrat Environment Critic Rachel Notley said, “the report on the joint oil sand monitoring program shows that Conservative governments on a federal and provincial level are failing Albertans when it comes to protecting out air, land and water around the oil sands.”
 
In February 2012, the governments of Alberta and Canada committed to implementing a scientifically rigorous, comprehensive, and transparent environmental monitoring program for the oil sands.
 
“Today’s Auditor General’s report concludes that two years later, the PCs are failing on key elements of their so-called world class monitoring program,” Notley said.
 
 “Not only did the first annual report fail to surface until 15 months after the end of the first year, it was also incomplete, contained inaccurate data, and did not specifically speak to whether there had been substantive movement toward the stated goals of the project.”
 
The PCs claim that their monitoring system can help to restore Alberta’s black eye – caused by years of Conservative neglect with respect to our environment. What this report shows, once again, is that PC rhetoric is not backed up by concrete action.”
 
“Until we fix our environmental monitoring, our industry’s sustainability will continue to be undermined by our environmental record.”

Health care on brink of “catastrophic collapse”, Albertans deserve so much better: Dr. Bob Turner


EDMONTON- New Democrat Candidate for Edmonton-Whitemud, Dr. Bob Turner, said that the alarming op-ed circulated to Alberta media yesterday and printed in this morning's Calgary Herald clearly shows that Albertans need to use this by-election to send the right message to the PCs on health care and vote against the unqualified, unelected Health Minister Stephen Mandel.

Dr. Paul Parks, the official spokesperson for the Section of Emergency Medicine of the Alberta Medical Association, writes that Alberta's health care system on the brink of catastrophic collapse: "The Alberta government is accountable for the ongoing failure to plan for adequate capacity." He goes on to say that the "The Alberta government promised Albertans that they fully understood and would address these issues repeatedly over the last four years. Unfortunately, they simply have not done so."

Parks views these by-elections as an opportunity to send the PCs a message on health care, saying "The health care system is in very real jeopardy and Albertans have a unique opportunity to be involved in one of the most important "job interviews" facing our province."

"This situation is very serious, and immediate, meaningful action needs to be taken. Albertans deserve better than more broken promises and platitudes masked as a real plan. They deserve the security of knowing that this frightening situation is being dealt with quickly, thoroughly and with expertise," said Turner.

On Sunday, Stephen Mandel claimed to have a plan ready for health care, focusing on long-term care and emergency medicine. Turner said Mandel's plan is news to front-line heath care professionals.

"The medical professionals I know and trust certainly haven't heard about Mandel's 'plan' for health care," said Turner. "Mandel and the PCs haven't talked with doctors at the AMA, they haven't consulted with front-line workers in Emergency Medical Services, and they certainly haven't listened to the health professionals who work at the dilapidated Misericordia hospital."

"In the last provincial election, the New Democrats released a plan to immediately build and staff 1,500 more public long-term care spaces in Alberta to deal with seniors in the province waiting for long-term care in hospitals," said New Democrat leader Brian Mason. "The PCs promised to build 1,000 spaces a year and they have completely failed Albertans. Albertans deserve better than more broken promises - they deserve a health care system that works."

The Alberta New Democrats have a plan to immediately re-invest in public health care to provide more long-term care, affordable home care, and better front-line services.

On Thursday, Mason and Turner will hold a rally outside the Misericordia, calling on the PCs to immediately commit to building a new southwest Edmonton hospital.

More upgrading needs to happen at home to build Alberta’s economy: Mason


 
EDMONTONA new report commissioned by the Alberta Federation of Labour bolsters the Alberta’s NDP stance that upgrading in Alberta is economically viable and would create long-term jobs for Albertans.
 
“The New Democrats believe that Albertans need to think like owners of our natural resource wealth,” Mason said. “But this PC government continues to stump for pipelines without first ensuring that we create the conditions for long-term prosperity in Alberta.”
 
The report shows that the Keystone XL pipeline will create thousands of jobs in the US, but only 35 permanent jobs for Canadians. Northern Gateway would only create 228 permanent jobs here, with hundreds of thousands going to China.
 
“As we’ve been saying for years – and now this report shows – it makes sense to upgrade at home in Alberta. It will create jobs, it will diversify our economy and it will ensure that Albertans receive the full value of the resources that we own together.”

NDP and Dr. Darren Lund Call on PCs and Wildrose to Support Gay-Straight Alliances in Alberta School


CALGARY- Today at Central Memorial High School, where students are able to support each other through gay-straight alliances, NDP Calgary-Foothills candidate Jennifer Burgess and NDP Edmonton-Strathcona MLA Rachel Notley called on the PCs and Wildrose to support concrete measures aimed at reducing bullying and making LGBTQ students feel safer in Alberta schools.

Burgess and Notley were joined by Dr. Darren Lund, whose work on diversity and human rights in education led to the first gay-straight alliance in Alberta.

"Alberta's students deserve better than being blocked by the PCs and Wildrose from forming clubs that promote safer schools," said Burgess. "These clubs are proven to deter bullying and promote positive community. PC and Wildrose foot-dragging on support for them is inexcusable."

Burgess and Notley have proposed two measures to support LGBTQ students in Alberta:
1) Introduce legislation allowing 'gay-straight alliance clubs' at all schools where students request them.
2) Amend the Human Rights Code to reverse changes made by the PCs in 2010, which makes teachers who discuss sexuality and sexual orientation in the classroom the potential subjects of human rights complaints.
In April 2014, PC and Wildrose MLAs opposed a motion to support the establishment of gay-straight alliances in Alberta schools.

"Alberta is a modern and diverse province," said Notley. "The PC and Wildrose opposition to simple measures that would help support LGBTQ students shows just how out of step they are with Albertans."

Studies have shown that gay-straight alliances substantially reduce bullying and make schools safer for LGBTQ students. Visible support networks are one of the biggest determinants in addressing the discrimination faced by students every day.

"I've been fortunate to have worked for decades to support diversity and human rights in Alberta's classrooms, and I know that Alberta's students would benefit from these proposed measures," said Dr. Darren Lund.

"These measures to support diversity and promote safe communities are exactly the kind of steps Alberta's kids need and deserve. I can see no reason, other than politics, why they wouldn't be supported in our schools." 

"While Jim Prentice tries desperately to turn the corner on his party's past scandals, his hand-picked candidate here in Calgary-Elbow, Gordon Dirks, was until very recently the leader of a church promoting views that discriminate against gay and lesbian Albertans in their official book of principles," said Burgess. "Meanwhile, the Wildrose's disturbing track record on this issue speaks for itself."

"A clear majority of Albertans are accepting and supportive of LGBTQ people, both in our society and in our schools," said Notley. "It's time they had a government that demonstrates those same values."

Burgess and Notley said that an NDP government would do everything in its power to support LGBTQ rights and make Alberta schools safe for all students. 
 

Meet the new PC management, same as the old management


CALGARY - In Toronto on October 8th, the PC-tied consulting firm, Navigator, will be hosting an event called "Alberta is under New Management". The event doubt on Premier Jim Prentice's effort to distance himself from former Premier Redford given her ties with the same firm.

"Meet the new PC management; it's the same as the old management," said NDP candidate for Calgary Foothills Jennifer Burgess. "Albertans deserve better than the same old cynical rebrand by the same old consulting companies working for the same old PC government."

In 2012 during Alison Redford's successful bid to become leader, Navigator's Executive Chairman Jaime Watt was a key advisor, and one of the "PC 10" who had daily strategy calls with Alison Redford during her campaign. Navigator is now claiming they have "key insights on what to expect from the new Prentice government."

CBC Edmonton revealed today that Jason Hatcher, another consultant with Navigator, has been added to an amended Lobbyist Registry as a consultant on behalf of Navigator for Advanced Education, Culture, Procurement Solicitor General, Energy, Environment, and Economic Development.

"Albertans deserve better than the same PC insiders pulling the strings of their new leader and the Government of Alberta," said Burgess. "Jim Prentice is just like Alison Redford: he wants to 'clean up' government just as soon as he's paved the way for his own insiders to have easy access to lobbying."

"An NDP government would end sweetheart contracts and backroom access for all insiders," said Burgess. "The legislature is for Albertans, not strategists based in Toronto who think they can dictate what we can "expect" from our government."

New Democrats launch by-election campaigns


EDMONTON – Today, Brian Mason and the New Democrats launched by-election campaigns in four constituencies calling on Albertans not to just send the PCs a message with their vote, but to send the right message – that the PCs must address a dire shortage of schools, crumbling hospitals and a serious shortage of long-term care spaces for Alberta seniors.

“By-elections are about sending a message to the government – a message about where we want the province to go,” Mason said. “In this campaign, vote New Democrat to tell the PCs that just because they've managed to beat back the flames of scandal, that doesn't mean they've put out the real fire, which is their failure to address the needs of this growing province.

“In these by-elections, Albertans can vote for a strong, committed candidate in each of these four ridings to send the PCs the right message – a message that fixing the scandals isn't enough. A message that this government needs to do more.”

The New Democrats have candidates lined up in three of the by-election constituencies:
• Dr. Bob Turner- Edmonton Whitemud
• Stephanie McLean- Calgary Elbow
• Jennifer Burgess- Calgary Foothills
• Brian Malkinson- Calgary West

“When the PCs won the election in 2012, they promised to aggressively build and modernize schools. Communities across Calgary and Edmonton are still dealing with overcrowded and poorly maintained schools because of that broken promise. The Misericordia Hospital has been allowed to crumble under the PCs' watch. This government deserves a failing grade on public health care, public education, equality, seniors care and infrastructure. Albertans can tell them that by voting for a New Democrat candidate in these by-elections.”

Dr. Bob Turner to run for the Alberta New Democrats in Edmonton Whitemud


EDMONTON – Today, Brian Mason announced that Dr. Bob Turner, a doctor at Edmonton's Cross Cancer Institute, is seeking the nomination for the Alberta New Democrats in Edmonton Whitemud. He will run against Stephen Mandel, the PCs' unelected Health Minister.

“I'm thrilled to announce that Bob Turner, a well-respected health care professional, is putting his name forward to run for the New Democrats in Edmonton Whitemud in the upcoming byelection,” Mason said. “Bob's record, his knowledge, and his passion for health care and for Alberta makes him the clear choice for voters in Edmonton Whitemud, especially when compared to the record of an unelected PC insider Health Minister, Stephen Mandel.”

Dr. Turner identified three key issues that are key concerns for him which motivated him to run for the New Democrats in Edmonton Whitemud:
• A replacement for the Misericordia hospital. The Alberta New Democrats launched a petition in August calling for a new hospital in southwest Edmonton to replace the Misericordia. Turner is also concerned with ambulance wait times in southwest Edmonton.
• overcrowded schools in the constituency. Promised schools not built.
• long-term care for seniors, particularly with the government's slow response to installing sprinklers in long-term care facilities, an issue the New Democrats first raised in January.

“Edmonton Whitemud is a prosperous place. Proud, hard-working Albertans live here,” Turner said. “But 43 years of PC governments haven't served us well. When choosing health care, we choose between an overcrowded University Hospital and a crumbling Misericordia. Our kids have longer bus rides every year, because this PC government has failed to build enough schools for our growing community. Our seniors are living in facilities without sprinklers and often can't even get access to affordable long-term care.

“This PC government has ignored the basic needs of the residents of Edmonton Whitemud. They have failed Albertans and failed the voters here.”

Turner said that he looks forward to meeting voters throughout Edmonton Whitemud in the coming weeks.

Statement from NDP Health Critic David Eggen on HSAA EMS Survey Report


 
EDMONTON – Alberta’s New Democrat Health Critic, David Eggen, released the following statement in response to the HSAA EMS Survey Report, released today:
 
“It’s time for the PCs to take meaningful action. This report shows years of neglect to funding public health infrastructure and hasty centralization have had a negative effect on the operation of our emergency health care system and the morale of EMS employees.
 
“This report gives front line workers, who may be afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs, a voice and that voice is saying that the quality of care Albertans are receiving is suffering.
 
“EMS workers reported a drastic decline in satisfaction at work, and ability to perform their jobs since AHS took over EMS services in Alberta. They also pointed to dispatch centralization as the cause of increased response times for emergency calls.
 
“Stephen Mandel has a hard decision to make now. He was quick to support centralization as Edmonton’s mayor. Now he needs to take a step back and decide if centralization is the right decision for Alberta moving forward.
 
“The New Democrats are calling on Mandel to halt further centralization of dispatch services until a review can be conducted on the impact it’s had on response times so far, and what the plan looks like now that a number of communities have convinced the PCs to let them continue to operate their own dispatch services.
 
“The health of Albertans shouldn’t be put on hold while we wait for the PCs to try to rebrand their government. Emergency health care should be a priority and the serious concerns that have been raised in this report need to be dealt with immediately.”

Statement from NDP Leader Brian Mason on Prentice’s plan for an Accountability Act


EDMONTON Alberta’s NDP Leader, Brian Mason released the following statement in regard to Premier Prentice’s plan to introduce a new Accountability Act:
 
“Mr. Prentice has demonstrated a tremendous grasp of the obvious over this past week and today is no exception as the Premier acknowledged that Albertans no longer trust the PCs to put their interests first. 
 
“Conveniently, the Premier announced today that government employees would only be based on merit going forward, a week after appointing Jay Hill, his friend, campaign co-chair and former lobbyist to the newly created position of senior representative for Alberta, in Canada.
 
“Mr. Prentice also appointed former colleague and MP, Rob Merrifield to a senior representative position in the U.S. and created a job for campaign supporter and former cabinet minister, Doug Horner as Senior Advisor to the Premier on Internal Trade and Federal and Provincial Relations
 
“Alberta’s NDP has been calling on this government to years to stop appointing PC insiders and awarding sole source contracts. This is another example of Prentice following the opposition’s agenda; however we will hold our applause until we see the details of  this legislation.”  

Statements from Alberta New Democrat Leader Brian Mason on Rosh Hashanah


Alberta New Democrat Leader Brian Mason issued the following statement today to mark Rosh Hashanah:

“At sundown tonight, members of the Jewish faith in Alberta will observe their new year, Rosh Hashanah.

“As families and friends gather to celebrate this Holy Day, Alberta’s New Democrats offer our best wishes in this time of reflection and renewal.

“Rosh Hashanah also gives all Albertans the opportunity to consider the myriad of ways Jewish people have contributed to this province’s heritage, culture and legacy.

“Shanah tovah!”

It’s time for real action on access to health care for Albertans: NDP


EDMONTON New Democrat Health critic David Eggen said today that Premier Jim Prentice’s plan for yet another study of rural health care shows that the PCs are failing to deliver on health care for Albertans.
 
“This government has been in power for 43 years – are they seriously trying to tell us that they don’t have a plan to fix the declining quality of health care that people in rural Alberta receive?” said Eggen.
 
“We don’t need another study to tell us that this government’s consistent failure to invest wisely in public health care is creating problems for Albertans across the province. Inadequate access to long-term care, not enough family doctors, closures of health care facilities, and the PCs’ broken promise on Family Care Clinics are all problems created by this government. These issues won’t be solved with cynical announcements that are designed to make Prentice look like he’s saving the day, while in reality the government continually fails to take action.”
 
Alberta Health Services originally launched a rural health care framework study in 2010, which was then updated in 2012. Since then, the government was supposed to be continuously assessing community needs and doing consultations.
 
“Jim Prentice and his new unelected minister are offering no change to Albertans. They continue to fail Albertans on the issues that matter, like reliable, high-quality public health care and education.”
 

Alberta NDP call on Prentice to take action on Justice Minister


EDMONTON – Alberta New Democrat Leader Brian Mason called on Premier Jim Prentice today, to create an immediate and public timeline for a solution to the Legal Aid funding crisis in Alberta.
 
He also called on Prentice to demand a retraction and apology from Justice Minister and Solicitor General, Jonathan Denis for comments he made to the media over the weekend on the issue.
 
“Mr. Denis’ comments to the media this weekend show an insufficient understanding of the need for the Solicitor General to remain neutral and cast unfounded doubt on the integrity of lawyers who work in the Legal Aid System,” said Mason.
 
Mason’s call comes following a letter from the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association and the Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association sent to Jim Prentice calling for Denis’ resignation, after the organizations say his actions “show a lack of impartiality.”
 
In a letter to Prentice, Mason wrote:
 
 “Administration of justice is a provincial responsibility and the Ministers’ comments have repeatedly attempted to shift the blame to the federal government for the funding crisis. Moreover, his comments to the media this weekend show an insufficient understanding of the need for the Solicitor General to not only be neutral but to be seem to be neutral on matters relating to the administration of justice.”
 
Mason has called on the Prentice to take immediate action to adequately fund legal aid and provide a timeline for Minister Denis to address the issue.

Prentice implements opposition agenda, continues to break PC promises: Mason


 
EDMONTON – Alberta New Democrat Leader Brian Mason said that Jim Prentice has spent his entire first week as Premier attempting to correct the mistakes of the PC party and government.
 
“Jim Prentice has basically implemented the positions, not only of the New Democrats, but also of other opposition parties,” Mason said. “But he has yet to show Albertans what it is that he wants to do for this province—aside from yet another cynical rebrand attempt.”
 
However, Mason said that a few of Prentice’s decisions have begun to offer glimpses to Albertans on critical issues, like delivery of primary health care and education infrastructure.
 
“The unelected Health Minister forecast the cancellation of Family Care Clinics—a major promise from this government when they were last elected. The PCs’ broken promises will obviously continue under a Jim Prentice government.
 
“In the coming months, it will be important for Albertans to remember that PC promises always fly at election time, only to be completely forgotten once the ballots have been counted.”

Statement from NDP Health Critic David Eggen on the halt of the Michener Centre closure


EDMONTON – Alberta’s New Democrats Health Critic, David Eggen released the following statement on the news that Michener Centre will remain open:
 
“On behalf of Alberta’s New Democrats, I want to congratulate the residents of Michener Centre and everyone who stood beside them throughout this long period of uncertainty – most especially their families. The news that the facility will remain open is a welcome and hard-fought victory.
 
“The residents and their families have been put through unnecessary stress by this callous PC government and the impacts the transition has already had on residents and their families are not reversed by the announcement.”

Prorogation kills bills 9 & 10

NDP calls for Prentice to put pension reform to rest


EDMONTON –Alberta’s New Democrats are celebrating their successful fight against bills 9 and 10, after the proposed legislation pension reform legislation was terminated Wednesday.

“The government thought it could push this damaging legislation through under the noses of hard-working Albertans. The New Democrats joined public employees and their unions in standing up for our seniors and public service employees and we’re proud to say we’ve been successful,” said Alberta NDP Leader, Brian Mason.

The proposed pension reform legislation was finally put to rest Wednesday, when Premier Jim Prentice announced the fall session of the legislature would be prorogued, effectively wiping out any legislation that hasn't yet passed." 

“We fought hard in the Legislature and forced the PCs to pull the bills and take them to committee. Then we fought hard in committee all summer to make sure Albertans were heard. We forced the PCs to consider the devastating effects their self-serving agenda would have on regular, hard-working Albertans,” said Mason.

“Prentice’s mandate letter to Finance Minister, Robin Campbell, is concerning. In it, he lists “addressing the competitiveness of the public sector pension plans and ensure they are sustainable,” as a focus. Alberta’s New Democrats are calling on Prentice to end the PCs’ misguided approach to pension reform once and for all.

“We’re so proud to have worked together with public sector employees and their unions to protect pension fairness. Together, we’ve succeeded in getting these damaging bills off the table. Alberta’s NDP is doing everything it can to institute a respectful relationship with Alberta’s seniors and our public service,” said Mason.

The New Democrats continue to work to expand pension coverage for those who don’t have it, and to protect those who do.

Indigenous communities deserve meaningful consultation: NDP


EDMONTON – New Democrat Aboriginal Relations critic, Deron Bilous released the following statement after the Alberta Assembly of Treaty Chiefs passed a resolution calling for an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, and urging Jim Prentice to reconsider his position on it:
 
“Mr. Prentice has barely taken the oath as Minister of Aboriginal Relations and already he’s disrespecting Alberta’s chiefs by publicly stating that an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women is unnecessary.
 
“As Premier he has a mandate to build respectful relationships with Indigenous communities. Instead of jumping to his own conclusions about what is needed and what isn’t, Mr. Prentice needs to sit down with stakeholders and participate in meaningful consultation.
 
“It’s time to fix Alberta’s track record on consultation and communication with Indigenous peoples and the inquiry is a great place to start but Mr. Prentice continues to show that he won't bring any change to Alberta.”

PC culture of entitlement continues


EDMONTON – New Democrat MLA Deron Bilous said that Jim Prentice is yet again showing that he doesn't represent change by appointing his campaign co-chair to a plum government position.
 
“Actions speak louder than words, and welcoming one of his buddies into the PC Old Boys' Club is one of Mr. Prentice's first actions as Premier,” said Bilous.
 
On the heels of Jim Prentice’s promise to end entitlement in the PC government, the premier has announced his long-time friend and co-chair of his leadership campaign, Jay Hill, will be Alberta’s Senior Representative in Saskatchewan, British Columbia, the North and the North West Partnership.
 
“This appointment smells like an insider favour to me. Prentice seems to be clearing out Redford’s friends and replacing them with his own,” Bilous said. "This just goes to a show that Prentice’s PC re-branding is smoke and mirrors. We’re seeing the same culture of entitlement under Prentice that we’ve seen from the PCs all along."
 
In August, the NDP released information about Jay Hill and his contravention of the Conflict of Interest Act in 2011.

Dirks can’t be trusted to protect the rights of LGBTQ students: NDP


 
EDMONTON- Alberta’s New Democrats are calling Premier Prentice’s appointment of Gordon Dirks to Education Minister inappropriate.
 
“Gordon Dirks has close ties to an organization that believes same-sex relationships are an offence to God. How can he be counted on to protect the rights of Alberta’s LGBTQ students?” said NDP Education Critic, Deron Bilous.
 
Despite the growing issue of bullying in Alberta schools, the PCs and the Wildrose have opposed gay-straight alliances.
 
Leadership candidate, Ric McIver was forced to publicly apologize for his association with a different organization that condemns the LGBTQ community earlier this year. Now the Premier has appointed a man to one of the most important cabinet positions who seems to represents similar values.
 
“Dirks’ history raises real questions about how policy will be crafted around inclusion, gay straight alliances and bullying in general,” said Bilous. “Prentice is attempting to cater to the social conservative views of many Wildrose supporters.”
                                                     
Dirks was recently a pastor at Centre Street Church in Calgary, where their Theological Principles and Ministry Practises include the following statements:

  • “God intends marriage to be a monogamous, life-long union between a male and a female who are each living in the physical gender in which they were born.” (pg 18)
  • “God is dishonoured by: sexual obsession, intimate physical expression of sexuality outside of marriage and sexual activity between persons of the same sex...” (pg 19)

“Prentice has made foolish mistake on his first day on the job and should rescind his appointment of Gordon Dirks as Education Minister,” said Bilous.

The original version of this release incorrectly attributed a quote from Street Church to Centre Street Church. We apologize for any inconvenience.

New cabinet comes at the expense of experience and credibility: NDP


EDMONTON – NDP Leader Brian Mason released the following statement following the naming of Jim Prentice’s cabinet:
 
“It’s his first day on the job, and Premier Prentice has named a cabinet destined for inner conflict, and rife with ministers who have a history of failing Albertans.
 
“The premier has tried to give the Tories a fresh coat of paint but it’s come at the expense of credibility and experience.
 
“Prentice has appointed two unelected cabinet ministers to very important Portfolios, Stephen Mandel to Health and Gordon Dirks to Education. Without a seat in the legislature these ministers have no mandate from Albertans, and no accountability for their performance.
 
“Some more competent MLAs were passed over because of their close association with Redford. Instead, Prentice has appointed inexperienced, weak ministers, who were just as closely tied to Redford, though not as publicly involved in PC scandals.
 
“Diana McQueen, a rural MLA has been named as minister of Municipal Affairs. It’s hard to see how big city concerns will be addressed by her.
 
“We're at a very sensitive time in labour relations in the province of Alberta after countless, sustained attacks on the rights of their members. It is concerning that Prentice would appoint Ric McIver to this portfolio, a man whose history suggests he does not respect the public sector and hardworking Albertans.
 
“Stephen Khan is Minister of Service Alberta despite his poor history working in the Advanced Education portfolio and being fired from his cabinet role by Alison Redford.
 
“And although Prentice has committed to an accountable and transparent leadership he’s appointed McIver and Drysdale, two men at the heart of the Skypalace fiasco."

PCs push through publication ban regulations without deliberation


EDMONTON – The PCs pushed through regulations that effectively reinstate a publication ban on personal information of children who die in care, Thursday afternoon.
                                    
The Standing Committee on Families and Communities was set to review draft regulations that would govern how families and government could seek a publication ban in the event that a child in care dies, during its meeting Thursday.
 
"Without amendment, the regulations as drafted by the Minister would allow for ex parte applications to the courts to impose a publication ban, on an accelerated basis without the typical checks and balances afforded by Queen’s Bench judges,” said Notley. “Typical notice requirements are eliminated and the ability for families to appeal the order is also limited.”
 
Ministry officials advised committee members that they would be most likely to apply for the ban where the child who died was in their custody (ie.  a foster child, temporary or permanent) or where a sibling of the child was in their custody. Those guidelines alone, cover the vast majority of cases.
 
Several submitters raised concerns with the new regulations and argued that clear and greater limits on when the government would rely on this strategy were necessary.  A variety of mechanisms to achieve this limit were proposed.
 
However, in response to Notley’s request that the committee review each recommendation on a systematic basis, PC Committee Chair Cathy Olsen alleged it was not the task of the committee to review the regulations in detail and cut off discussion about the submissions provided  by stakeholders.
 
"These are expert opinions that were submitted to help shape the regulations to best suit Alberta families and this committee is so arrogant that it won't even take the time to review the submissions and deliberate on the necessary changes," said Notley. .
 
"When the PCs first came under scrutiny for this, they promised they would do better. They promised they would be transparent about the deaths of children in care but yesterday they took a major step backward. Transparency has been lost through the arrogance and entitlement which still governs PC government conduct,” said Notley.
 
Notley will file a minority report on the issue.
 

NDP Leader Brian Mason thanks Premier Hancock for his service


EDMONTON – NDP Leader Brian Mason has released the following statement thanking Premier Hancock for his service to Albertans:

“I want to thank Premier Hancock for his personal dedication to the Government of Alberta and to Albertans over the last 6 months. The Office of the Premier demands a great deal of time and commitment and certainly Dave has fulfilled his role admirably.
 
“Moreover, throughout his entire career Dave has been a deeply dedicated and competent representative for the people of Edmonton-Whitemud and all Albertans.  Over the years, he’s served nearly every cabinet portfolio – a testament to his skill and character.  In these especially tumultuous times for the PCs, Dave’s reputation for almost never getting in trouble has served him well. 
 
“Mr. Hancock has proudly served Alberta for many years and as he announces his departure from politics today, I wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.  He will be missed.
 
“Politics is especially challenging for families and I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Janet, Ian, Janice and Janine for sharing Dave with Albertans.”


 

Federal NDP join Provincial New Democrats in fight for access to justice in Alberta


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Federal NDP Justice critic, Françoise Boivin joins Alberta NDP Justice critic, Rachel Notley in calling for urgent attention to the growing crisis in access to justice across the country.

 

EDMONTON – Today, Alberta NDP Justice critic, Rachel Notley, was joined by federal NDP Justice critic, Françoise Boivin, in calling for urgent attention to the growing crisis in access to justice across the country. Notley repeated the need for an immediate commitment to adequate legal aid funding from the government.
 
“In Alberta, we are faced with a provincial government that flagrantly disrespects the constitutional rights of its citizens and ignores its constitutional responsibility for the administration of justice,” said Notley. “By refusing to adequately fund legal aid, Jonathan Denis and the PCs have created a crisis so severe that even the most vulnerable Albertans no longer qualify for assistance.”
 
“I have been carefully watching the alarming situation in Alberta and I share my colleague’s concerns about the erosion of legal aid as a crucial service,” said Boivin.
 
Both critics highlighted the importance of legal aid funding to the functioning of the justice system. By reducing delays, mistrials, appeals, mistakes and additional time for court staff and judges associated with self-represented litigants, legal aid has been found to generate a substantial return on investment in the UK, Texas and Australia. Alberta's Auditor General has agreed to look into the impacts of the chronic underfunding of legal aid, following Notley's request in June, based on the cost savings in other jurisdictions.
 
“We need to start treating access to the courts and to legal advice and representation as the vital public service that it is, just like healthcare or education,” said Notley. “There is a growing body of case law and research that supports this approach.”
  
Studies in other jurisdictions show that encountering legal problems or difficulties in accessing one’s rights without adequate support can lead to increased illness, both mental and physical, lost jobs, homelessness and risk to children’s wellbeing. “An inability to access justice can create and compound problems and costs to society, just like inadequate access to healthcare or education,” said Boivin.
 
Both critics say that it is time to view access to justice as an equally important right and social service in Canada.
 
 
A backgrounder on legal aid is available here.

 

Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason speaks to federal NDP caucus in Edmonton


Read the text of Alberta NDP leader Brian Mason's speech to the Federal NDP caucus below.


Brian Mason's speech to Federal NDP by Alberta NDP

Auditor General’s report echoes NDP’s call for an integrated, accessible health care system


EDMONTON – The Auditor General’s report released today shows that the PCs are still falling short when it comes to chronic disease management  in Alberta, despite the New Democrats repeated calls for a more integrated, collaborative care system.
 
“This report reiterates the issues this government has been ignoring for years. The number of Albertans suffering with a chronic disease is increasing all the times. It’s time for the PCs to acknowledge that they are not doing enough,” said NDP Health Critic, David Eggen.
 
The report released today highlights concerns that there are no checks and balances in place to ensure Albertans receive the care they need and deserve. “It’s yet another example of ongoing chaos and lack of accountable leadership between Alberta Health and AHS, which ultimately affects quality of care for all Albertans,” said Eggen.
 
“There is an overarching need for purposeful, province-wide action to manage the growing burden of chronic disease. New actions must be dramatic. Small, incremental improvements could be overwhelmed by rising chronic disease numbers,” said the Auditor General.
The key findings of the Auditor General’s report point to three concerns Alberta’s New Democrats have been voicing for years:

  1. Access to primary care and continuity of care: Albertans deserve access to a family doctor who knows their history and can track and assess their health needs. Evidence shows that patients who see the same physician have better outcomes and use fewer resources
  2. Better coordination of health services and information sharing: Chronic disease is best managed when a variety of health care professionals work together. Albertans need better integration of nurses, therapists, dieticians, pharmacists and other health professionals in order for our system to work effectively.
  3. Improved data gathering, analysis and evaluation of Alberta Health and AHS programs: There is currently a lack of data collection, reporting and accountability amongst health care providers. There is no system in place to determine the demand for Chronic Disease Management or the effectiveness of available care.
“The Minister of Health needs to make chronic disease management a priority. It’s time to sit down and define expectations and responsibilities for service providers and then diligently track the results,” said Eggen.

Polling in 1st in Edmonton and strong leadership fundraising shows Alberta New Democrats’ momentum


SEPTEMBER 5th, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

EDMONTON - At the same time as yet another public opinion poll shows Alberta's New Democrats leading in Edmonton, the party released its August fundraising report for its Leadership candidates.
 
"The recent polls and these fundraising results are perfect examples of our momentum" said New Democrat Provincial Secretary Brian Stokes, "Albertans aren't buying the same old story of PC entitlement and scandal. More and more are turning to the New Democrats as the party that shares their values and that offers the real alternative to the conservative parties."

The details of total contributions and contributions over $100 can be found on the party's website by following this link.

Details on the Leadership2014 contest in general can be found at albertandp.ca/leadership2014.

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NDP calls for PCs to end the use of Supports Intensity Scale


EDMONTON—Alberta’s New Democrats are calling for the government to end the use of the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS), calling the system unfair and broken.

The scale is an assessment tool that the Ministry of Human Services claims helps them to determine the amounts of funding persons with developmental disabilities receive. It came to be relied upon when the government first cut $45 million from PDD funding in 2013.

The New Democrats released documents today obtained through a Freedom of Information application, showing hundreds of SIS assessments are being sent for reassessment and an overwhelming 85% of reassessments are being overturned as inadequate.

“Thousands of PDD families, individuals and service providers are left struggling to navigate the system when their supports are slashed based on a faulty measurement. Instead of helping these Albertans, this PC government is adding layers upon layers of stress and confusion in order to avoid accountability,” said Notley.

Marie Renaud, director of the Lo-Se-Ca Foundation, a service provider for persons with developmental disabilities, estimates 40% of the assessments done for Lo-Se-Ca clients are inaccurate.

“Some were so inaccurate I actually questioned whether the assessor even met the person” Renaud said.  “In May of 2013 I sent a list of assessments that we believe were incorrect to the Ministry and asked for reassessments. To date, not one of those has been reassessed.”

The FOIP documents show that as of June 2014 nearly 2000 re-assessments or reviews have been requested across the province.
 
A backgrounder on SIS is available here.
 

Statement from NDP Leader Brian Mason on Labour Day


Alberta NDP Leader Brian Mason has released the following statement to commemorate Labour Day:
 
“On behalf of Alberta New Democrats, we would like to take this opportunity to reflect on the strides workers’ have made in our province when it comes to labour rights.
 
“Despite the enormous strides workers have made in the past, the Alberta government continues to have the worst labour laws in Canada.
 
“We still butt up against the barriers the PC government has created, whether it’s the unconstitutional anti-strike legislation of Bills 45 and 46, or the attack on pension security of provincial employees in Bills 9 and 10.
 
“When fall session resumes October 27, Alberta’s New Democrats will continue our fight in the Legislature defend workers’ rights, as well as push for better protection for farm workers, a higher minimum wage, and work with our federal counterparts to dissolve the Temporary Foreign Worker program and establish better immigration practices.”

Statement from NDP Aboriginal Relations Critic Deron Bilous on Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act


Alberta NDP Aboriginal Relations Critic Deron Bilous has released the following statement about the PCs' failed Aboriginal consultation policy:
 
“Alberta’s New Democrats continue to support Treaty 8 and all of Alberta’s Indigenous peoples in voicing their concerns about this government’s approach to consultation.
 
“We fought hard against the Aboriginal Consultation Levy Act when it was introduced in the Assembly and we have continued to call for the PCs to abandon it and start over. No Indigenous input was included in the Act. The PCs clearly can't be trusted to create a consultation policy that respects the voices, the constitutional rights and the wellbeing of Indigenous peoples.
 
“Again, we call for the PC government to respect Alberta’s Indigenous peoples by engaging in real, meaningful discussions on a consultation policy that works for everyone.
 
"As New Democrats, we will continue to stand strong with Indigenous communities."

NDP calls on the PCs to eliminate mandatory public school fees


EDMONTON – Alberta’s New Democrats are calling on the PC government to put an end to mandatory school fees in Alberta public schools.
 
As students get ready to head back to class next week, Alberta families are paying more up-front in mandatory school fees than ever before, paying tens of millions of dollars to cover shortfalls left by PC government underfunding.
 
“In the absence of stable funding for Alberta public schools, the government continues to pass its financial responsibility onto Alberta families and that is not fair,” said NDP Education critic, Deron Bilous.
 
For example:
 
Fees for students entering grade 5 at a Calgary Public School add up to $650.
 
Fees for a Grade 12 student, attending convocation at an Edmonton Public School will cost an estimated $883.


 
Though fee waivers are available, the option is available only to a very small portion of the population.
 
“The fees, mandatory school supplies and busing just keep adding up. Public education has become an unfair expense for Alberta families. How many kids will be missing out on field trips, sports or elective courses because their families can’t afford to spend any more money?” said Bilous.
 
The New Democrats continue to call for the prohibition of mandatory school fees. Continuous predictable funding will give public education the stable injection that is needed to reduce class sizes, build new schools, and ensure a well rounded education for Alberta’s youth.
 
“The PCs have broken another promise to Albertans. Instead of providing adequate and stable funding for education we’re seeing damaging cuts to services and inflated fees,” said Bilous.
 

Statement from NDP health critic David Eggen on centralized ambulance dispatch in Calgary


EDMONTON – New Democrat health critic David Eggen released the following statement on the PCs’ plan to centralize ambulance dispatch in the city of Calgary:
 
“Since it was first announced, the PCs’ plan to centralize ambulance dispatch has been controversial with both Albertans and their municipal leaders.
 
“The New Democrats have been critical of this plan from the start. We’ve heard from those on the front lines that these changes could add minutes to emergency response times.
 
“Calgary’s mayor, Naheed Nenshi, has publicly rejected the centralized dispatch system. EMS workers and public safety communications experts have asked Minister Horne to halt the decentralization, and yet it is still planned to be implemented in Calgary in 2015.
 
“It’s clear that Alberta Health Services is not listening to Albertans, and that the PCs do not respect the opinions of municipal leaders.
 
“It’s time to halt the centralized dispatch project and develop a plan that works for and with Alberta municipalities.
 
“Albertans deserve a system that makes quality patient care a priority.”

Statement from NDP Leader Brian Mason on anniversary of Jack Layton’s death


 EDMONTON – New Democrat Leader Brian Mason released the following statement on the three-year anniversary of Jack Layton’s death:
 
“It’s hard to believe it has been 3 years since our nation lost a courageous and dedicated leader in Jack Layton.
 
“Jack Layton was a man who inspired Canadians with his authenticity and his energy. He worked tirelessly to enhance the lives of families, regardless of their political outlook.
 
“Today, three years after his passing, Canadians are fondly remembering Jack as a man who strengthened our hope for a better Canada.
 
“The Alberta New Democrats continue to fight for Jack’s vision. We continue to push for the just, open and equitable society that he spent his career fighting for.
 
“As I reflect on Jack’s contributions and ideals today, I’m drawn to a quote from his final letter, “My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

Mason calls on PCs to clarify position on post-secondary tuition freeze


 EDMONTON - In response to the news that the PC government is accepting submissions from Alberta universities who wish to increase their tuition fees again, New Democrat Leader Brian Mason called on the PCs to explain their plans for tuition.

“After the PCs promised to freeze tuition last spring, and after they promised that the “market-modifier” tuition hike of 2010 would be a one-time thing, Albertans are learning, yet again, that this PC government can't be trusted to keep their promises.
 
The government sent a letter to institutions, asking them to submit their proposals for market modifiers no later than October 15, 2014. The decision to accept proposals for increases was made without consultation with Albertans and there has been no public discussion about how tuition hikes could impact Alberta students who want to continue their education.
 
 “By refusing to live up to their promises of stable funding increases for post secondary education, this government is yet again placing a burden on the shoulders of Alberta families. This is an entitled government that believes it can do whatever it wants without being held accountable for its decisions.

"Today, I'm calling on the PCs to explain their plans for tuition. They announced a freeze last year, and this year they're asking for proposals to increase tuition. Alberta families deserve to know what this PC government has planned."

NDP calls for immediate halt to Michener Centre closure in the wake of transferred patients’ deaths

Deaths prompt renewed calls for PCs to review decision


EDMONTON – Following reports that several former Michener Centre residents have died, Alberta's New Democrats renewed their call for the PC government to halt the closure of the facility.
 
“We're hearing disturbing reports that appear to confirm what many of the families of the residents predicted: that a move like this would put these vulnerable Albertans at risk,” said NDP Health Critic David Eggen.
 
“This PC government is well aware of the immense strain that a move like this could put on a long-time resident of Michener, and yet they continue to push the Michener Transition Team to clear the facility out by the end of the year.”
 
Since the process to shut down the facility began last year, forty-one people -- many who are severely disabled or have high medical needs -- have been transferred to new facilities and, according to information obtained by the New Democrats, five of those people have died.
 
“Closing Michener is not in the best interest of the people who have lived there for decades and who call it their home," said Lee Kvern, whose sister remains at Michener Centre. "By failing to halt the closure and review a decision that is endangering these vulnerable residents, the PCs are continuing to fail the families and the residents."
 
All three PC Leadership candidates have expressed concern over the closure.
 
“If this process is just going to be stopped in three weeks, why don't we hit the pause button now? The PCs need to start putting Albertans first, and halt this hasty closure, pending a review of the impacts of the moves on the remaining residents of Michener," said Eggen.

Alberta's New Democrats have provided names and details to the ministry to aid in an investigation of the closure and the causes of these deaths.

Internal branding report shows AHS a political smokescreen

Alberta New Democrats call for PCs to abolish AHS


EDMONTON – Alberta’s New Democrats released an internal Alberta Health Services report on image and branding this morning. The report was ordered by the fired board of Alberta Health Services, and discusses the need for the board to separate the AHS brand from that of the PCs' to avoid political scandal.

Previously released FOIP documents, show that AHS spent more than $25,000 on the completed portion of an Image and Reputation Strategy. When Health Minister Fred Horne fired the board last summer, the report was scrapped.

"This report shows that AHS only exists to shield the government from the problems that Alberta families have all the time in the health care system," NDP Health Critic, David Eggen said. "And with the PCs working to bring the board back this fall under Jim Prentice, Albertans deserve answers about this waste of our money and the government's continued unwillingness to take responsibility for health care in this province."
  
The report, prepared in June 2013, points to a more effective opposition as part of the reason the public feels AHS isn’t doing its job. It goes on to call for more separation between AHS and the PC government.
 
The report also points to the media and blames outlets for giving “undue prominence to political differences” and “provoking protagonists to encourage a one day story into a four-day running sore.”

“The real question is why AHS needs a reputation strategy in the first place? The problem isn’t the media or the opposition. It's the fact that Albertans know that they deserve better than crumbling hospitals, no access to a family doctor and long wait-times to receive services. But, once again, this PC government and their insider appointees would rather spend money to twist public perception than to invest time and resources into solving the real problems in health care."
 
Alberta’s New Democrats continue to call for the PC government to abolish AHS to restore political accountability for the quality of the health care Albertans receive.

 

REALITY CHECK: Jim Prentice and the company he keeps


Jim Prentice has promised integrity and honesty as a cornerstone of his campaign, but his latest endorsement from former cabinet minister and lobbyist Jay Hill is raising eyebrows about whether Prentice can follow through with his vision of Alberta.                                        

In a letter to Prentice supporters, Hill commends Prentice for constantly performing his work with the “utmost honesty and trustworthiness,” but Hill’s own record raises questions.
 
Let’s begin by pointing out that Hill contravened the Conflict of Interest Act, after making calls to ministers regarding a 2011 oil industry deal. The Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner said Hill used his former position to “facilitate access” to the ministers on behalf of his spouse and her employer. The Commissioner found that Hill’s conduct was “inappropriate and fell short of the standard of ethical conduct that could reasonably be expected of him.”
 
Hill is a registered lobbyist in British Columbia and up until three weeks ago, he was a registered lobbyist in Alberta. He deregistered in Alberta, half-way through the campaign he is co-chairing and weeks before sending out a letter highlighting a need for government integrity.
 
Prentice’s alignment with Jay Hill stands in obvious contrast to the candidate’s promise to “restore public trust in government by improving accountability and governance, and by putting an end to entitlement”
  
Mr. Hill isn't just a lobbyist. He's a lobbyist who hasn’t always followed the rules.
 
In his letter of support for Jim Prentice, he calls the PC leadership candidate his friend.
 
As the old saying goes, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.”
 
We can learn a lot about Jim Prentice by the company he keeps.
 
To view the email, click here
 

NDP calls for the PCs to take meaningful action to enforce emission limits in the oil sands


EDMONTON – Alberta’s New Democrats are calling for the government to start strictly enforcing reasonable limits on new and existing industrial projects in the oil sands.

“We have meaningful data now and we need to use that data to act swiftly and proactively to control emissions, especially as we’re seeing this unprecedented rate of development in Alberta,” said NDP Environment and Sustainable Resource Development Critic, Rachel Notley.
 
The air quality report released today under the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan shows that, in 2012, levels of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide rose to levels 2 and 3 on a scale of 4, at a number of monitored sites, in the oil sands region.
 
Level 4 is the legal limit for pollution levels. Levels 2 and 3 are warning levels and require the government to take action.
 
Instead of acting on those warnings, the PCs will begin with another assessment to determine the appropriate next steps.  
 
“A plan to monitor that simply generates more monitoring is ineffective and serves only as a smokescreen,” said Notley. “Emission rules are in place so that air pollution never reaches a level 4. This government needs to heed the level 2 and 3 warnings and take appropriate action now.”
 
Data from 2013 isn’t expected to be released until December, at which point it’s possible projects could be exceeding a Level 4 on the air pollution scale.
 
“For years now, the government has put on a big show about how developing these regional plans will strengthen our cumulative effects monitoring and enforcement. Now, when faced with data, they take no real action. It calls into question whether this PC government will ever stand up to protect clean air and water for Albertans,” said Notley.
 
Alberta’s New Democrats are calling for the PCs to take immediate action by strictly enforcing the limits that have been set out.

NDP calls for PCs to sell the government fleet to fund a public inquiry


EDMONTON – Alberta’s New Democrats are calling on the PC government to sell its private air fleet and put the money towards funding a public inquiry.
 
“It’s time to get rid of those planes and put the money toward an open and impartial process that will provide transparency and peace of mind to Albertans,” NDP MLA Deron Bilous said today.
 
Alberta’s queue jumping inquiry cost seven million dollars. The PCs selling the fleet would generate an estimated $10 million from the sale and save $3.9 million a year in travel costs.


  X

“It seems like a no-brainer. Get rid of the temptation for this entitled PC government to continue to misuse government assets, and use the money to find out how deep this secrecy runs, and who is perpetuating it,” said Bilous.
 
The AG report raised questions about the abuse of government assets by other Tory MLAs. It also raises eyebrows about Doug Horner. The Auditor General points to the Finance Minister, as the man who was to be overseeing the use of the planes saying but Minister Horner says it wasn’t his job to know anything nothing about it.
 
 “Albertans have questions about how these planes were used and they deserve the answers to those questions. It is ludicrous that the PCs are refusing to call for a public inquiry on the issue, said Bilous
 
“When children choose not to follow rules, they have their privileges taken away. That principle applies here, government officials have blatantly broken the rules regarding the fleet and Albertans can no longer trust the PCs to follow the rules, so it’s time to get rid of the planes, “said Bilous.

Horner’s letter to PC caucus reinforces NDP call for public inquiry


EDMONTON – Doug Horner’s email to Alberta’s PC caucus reinforces the NDP’s call for a public inquiry, NDP MLA Deron Bilous said today.
 
“Horner says it’s entirely the fault of the individual ministers’ offices if the planes were misused, so let’s find out who misused them and when,” said Bilous.
“This investigation shouldn’t end with Redford. This issue of entitlement runs through the entire PC party.”
 
The Auditor General's report was limited to the conduct of the premier’s office but it uncovered examples of misuse on the part of several other ministers and caucus members.
 
 “Albertans deserve the full story about the PC caucus’ misuse of public resources and that can only happen through a public inquiry,” said Bilous
 
Alberta’s Treasury Board President and Minister of Finance sent a letter to his colleagues over the weekend, defending his reputation, and dismissing calls for his resignation.
 
Horner says his office is only responsible for the maintenance of the fleet. It is up to authorized users to follow the policy.
“Sections 7 and 8 clearly note that the accountability for use, destination, who flies, changes to the manifest etc. all lie with the requestor of the flight.”
 
“If it is up to individual ministers to ensure protocol and policy is followed, then it seems obvious that we need to expand the scope of this investigation into those ministers’ use of the planes as well,” said Bilous.
“Minister Horner is wiping his hands of the issue and passing the buck. No one in the PC caucus is willing to look into this issue any further. It’s time to call in an independent body.”
 
Alberta’s NDP was the first opposition party to call for a public inquiry.
 
“We haven’t been getting straight answers from anyone,” said Bilous.
“The NDP want to see those involved, compelled to answer questions about abuse of public assets, under oath.”
 
The NDP continue to call for an independent investigation into the misuse of government aircraft by cabinet ministers and senior staff.
 
“This game of trying to scapegoat only one person has gone on long enough.  It’s time to expose this PC government and Albertans can judge for themselves how deeply the 43 year old sense of entitlement runs through the whole gang,” said Bilous.

NDP challenges Tory leadership candidates to commit to public inquiry


EDMONTON – Alberta’s NDP is challenging all three PC leadership candidates to commit to a full public inquiry and the results need to be made public before the next election.
 
“All three PC candidates have publicly committed to openness, transparency and respect for public dollars. Now it’s time for them to put their money where their mouths are,” Bilous said.
“The only way we will get to the bottom of this issue and find out who was involved is if we allow an independent body to go through the information and come to an impartial conclusion.”
 
The Auditor General’s report, released yesterday raises more questions than it answers. It shines light on abuse of government assets by a number of Tory MLAs, including nine who were used a government plane to get to or from a PC Leadership dinner.
 
Those MLAs are: former Premier Alison Redford, Wayne Drysdale, Fred Horne, Everett McDonald, Wayne Cao, Christine Cusanelli, Cal Dallas, Ken Hughes and Donna Kennedy-Glans.
 
The report has found the flight was chartered specifically for partisan purposes, not government business. The PC party has seemingly conceded, vowing the repay the cost of that flight.
 
“This is not just about Redford, and it’s not just about Horner. It’s the entire PC government,” said Bilous.
"The entitlement rot goes right to the core of this PC government. Instead of putting Albertans first, this government- its cabinet, its party and its caucus- puts themselves and their friends and insiders first. This behaviour is completely unacceptable for elected officials.”
 
Alberta’s NDP continues to call for a public inquiry.
 
 “Albertans want an explanation. They want to know how their money is being spent. Any cost related to an inquiry is worth those answers,” said Bilous.
 
 

Alberta’s NDP call for a public inquiry into the Auditor General’s findings


EDMONTON –Alberta’s NDP opposition is calling for a public inquiry into the misuse of government aircraft by cabinet ministers and senior staff.
 
“We found three examples where only partisan business occurred and we could not identify any government business from Premier Redford’s schedule that occurred at those locations,” said the Auditor General in his report released today.
 
“The Auditor General found that a flight to Grand Prairie carrying nine MLAs - including members of cabinet - was used explicitly for non-government business, specifically, Progressive Conservative party business” said NDP MLA Deron Bilous.
 

The Alberta Government flight manifest from October 25, 2012. by Alberta NDP


 
When confronted with questions about the PC Party Fundraiser during the Grande Prairie trip, then Ministers Hancock, Horner, Horne and Denis said again that this trip was government business. Now the Auditor General has confirmed that no government business was conducted on that trip.  On the face of it, these cabinet ministers lied to the House, and the NDP Opposition will bring this issue to the Speaker for disciplinary investigation when the house resumes.
 
“This is proof that Redford did not act alone. All cabinet ministers are implicated and there is a unified effort to cover it up,” said Bilous.
 
“This further justifies a full public inquiry into this issue.”
 
The Auditor General also reports that staff in the then-Premier’s office as well as staff from the Department of Treasury and Finance knew about this practice and did nothing.
 
The report found that Alison Redford’s desire to take her daughter on out-of-province trips may have influenced her decision to fly privately. There were instances where commercial options were never even considered, where government planes flew back to Alberta empty, and instances where there was no effort made to co-ordinate travel with other government officials and reduce cost.
 
“This is typical Tory behavior and it’s time it ended. The PCs have become so comfortable spending public dollars on themselves that they’re not even covering their tracks anymore,” said Bilous
 
Alberta’s New Democrats agree with the Auditor General’s report that checks and balances are needed in the future. The NDP are calling for a public inquiry into this issue that would get to the bottom of the PCs complicity in Redford’s actions. 

NDP call on PCs to cap the number of children allowed in foster homes



 
EDMONTON – Today, NDP Human Services critic, Rachel Notley, called on the PC government to put limits on the number of children who can be placed with one foster family after a Children’s Advocate investigation described loopholes the government is using to approve foster homes that have up to nine children in the home.
 
“In 2008 the government’s own internal review recommended that a limit be imposed on the number of children who can be in a foster home,” Notley said. “That same year, the PCs promised they would implement the measure.  Now we are hearing about yet another broken promise to vulnerable Albertans.”
 
According to the Advocate’s report, the government’s policy limiting the number of children in a foster home excludes birth children and children in respite care so they are not counted toward the total. The Advocate therefore did not review this issue any further and made no recommendations as to limits or capacity of foster homes.
 
“Children who are receiving respite care require at least as much care as any other child; sometimes they may be even more vulnerable with greater needs than usual and I am extremely troubled that the government would have a policy that effectively endorses less care for these kids,” Notley said.
 
Notley has repeatedly raised concerns about overcrowded foster homes dating back to two separate incidents in 2007 and 2008. In June 2008, the government said it would implement the recommendations from an internal review of the system, including setting limits on the number of children allowed per foster home.
 
“Despite these promises, the PCs are still putting vulnerable children at risk by carving out exceptions to the principle that every child deserves to be placed in a home with the capacity to give them adequate care and attention,” Notley said.

Nominations close for Leadership 2014; New Democrats continue proactive financial disclosure


EDMONTON - Nominations for the leadership of the Alberta New Democrats closed yesterday, with three candidates officially in the race: David Eggen, Rod Loyola and Rachel Notley.

"This is an extremely exciting time for the Alberta New Democrats," said Provincial Secretary Brian Stokes. "People across this province are engaged and excited to see a vibrant, real alternative to conservative entitlement."

The New Democrats also released information about the leadership candidates' fundraising up to the end of July, as part of a commitment to proactive financial disclosure and transparency. The disclosure statement is available here.

NDP MLA Deron Bilous on Alison Redford’s resignation


EDMONTON – New Democrat MLA Deron Bilous released the following statement on the resignation of former Premier Alison Redford:

"I'd like to begin by thanking Ms. Redford for her service and acknowledging her work as Premier and as MLA. On behalf of the Alberta New Democrats, I want to extend our best wishes to Ms. Redford in her next steps. 

“However, with today's announcement, it's clear that the PCs hope that Ms. Redford can serve as the scapegoat for the mess made by this entitled 43 year-old government.
 
“It's obvious that the PCs hope this resignation will distract Albertans from the extremely serious issues raised by the Auditor General about abuse of government aircraft and expense policies. Albertans know that Ms. Redford did not act alone in her abuse of government planes and resources and that the issues of entitlement and disrespect for public dollars will not change when she is no longer an MLA.
 
“And today we see, yet again that this PC government only responds to public shock and outrage, instead of governing in the best interest of Albertans to begin with. A new leader won't solve these problems -- they run throughout this entire cabinet, caucus, and party.
 
“Alison Redford’s resignation is not the last chapter of this government’s entitlement story. Albertans know that and it's up to Albertans to change it."

NDP leads charge for a new hospital in Southwest Edmonton


alberta misericordia hospital ndp new democrat petition new mis now
EDMONTON – Southwest Edmonton needs a new hospital says Alberta’s New Democrat Opposition and the province’s health care practitioners.
 
In a public campaign launched today, Alberta’s New Democrats are calling for an immediate commitment from the Progressive Conservative government to build a new hospital in Southwest Edmonton to replace the aging Misericordia Hospital.
 
At a press conference on Wednesday, New Democrat Health critic David Eggen was joined by representatives of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the United Nurses of Alberta, the Health Sciences Association of Alberta and the Alberta Federation of Labour in their call for a new hospital.
 
“The PCs diversion tactics and band-aid solutions to dealing with infrastructure problems have gone on long enough,” NDP Health critic, David Eggen said. “The Misericordia is beyond reasonable repair. It’s time the government listened to Albertans and committed to a new hospital.”
 
For years the PC government has ignored requests for critical infrastructure funding from Convenant Health. The cost for repair to the facility continues to rise.
 
“When you have staff in tears over the working conditions in a hospital, it’s clear that the Misericordia is no longer a safe working environment for staff, let alone as an environment that promotes healing for patients,” Canadian Union of Public Employees-Alberta President Marle Roberts said.
 
“Covenant Health and the staff at the Misericordia hospital work very hard to maintain the absolute best conditions for patients. It’s time that something was done to get a new hospital in southwest Edmonton,” United Nurses of Alberta second Vice-President Daphne Wallace said.

The Misericordia is not only in poor repair, it’s bursting at the seams.

From January 2013 to February 2014, Overcapacity protocol in the Misericordia was triggered 576 times.
 
“This city is growing, and our staff is seeing a huge increase in patient numbers without an increase in capacity. Edmonton needs a new hospital, and it should be built with consultations of front-line workers who know the issues in southwest Edmonton best,” Heath Sciences Association of Alberta Vice-President of Human Resources Mike Parker said.
 
“The staff and patients at Misericordia have put up with too much for too long,” Alberta Federation of Labour Secretary Treasurer Siobhan Vipond said. “It’s time the PC government steps up to the plate and make a new Southwest Edmonton hospital a priority. Staff are doing everything they can to provide the best care to Albertans, but it’s starting to be overwhelming. It’s time for a change.”
 
“The government needs to make a responsible decision and commit to building a fully functioning hospital that has enough space to accommodate our province’s growing population,” Eggen said.
 
The NDP is calling on Albertans to make their voices heard. Go to www.newmisnow.ca and sign the petition for a new hospital in Southwest Edmonton.

PC government quick to go back on their word over wage freeze


EDMONTON – Alberta NDP critic Deron Bilous released the following statement regarding the wage hike for senior government staff and associate ministers.

“Albertans will not be surprised that the PC government has gone back on their word yet again when it comes to raises for senior management and associate ministers.

“Last year, the Finance Minister used a three-year wage freeze on senior manager salaries to justify rolling back the wages of Alberta families all over the province. After the government attempted to force a freeze on AUPE employees, those workers fought back and won modest pay increases. Now the PCs have decided that Tory insiders like Gary Mar can’t possibly be asked to live with frozen wages.

“This is truly a Tale of Two Albertas, with one set of rules for PC insiders and another for middle-class families. Everyone deserves fair compensation and people need raises to keep up with the cost of living. But a modest increase on a middle-class income is quite a different thing than a similar increase to an exorbitant salary.

“Meanwhile, we’re still hearing that there is no money to properly fund legal aid, Alberta’s doctors and teachers still have frozen wages, and we continue to have hospitals that spring a leak every time it rains.”

NDP MLA David Eggen on the Industry Canada approval of the sale of AltaLink



EDMONTON – New Democrat MLA David Eggen issued the following statement on the Industry Canada approval of the sale of AltaLink to American-owned Berkshire Hathaway:
 
"The New Democrats believe that this sale is not fair to Albertans. Our transmission system should not be an internationally traded commodity. Electricity is an essential service and it should be operated for Albertans, not for a massive profit for a foreign company.
 
“This deal will allow an American company to reap the benefits of utility lines paid for by Albertans, and will likely drive up electricity prices.
 
"We will continue to oppose the sale and call on the Alberta Utilities Commission to hold public hearings on this sale."
 

NDP calls for HQCA board member John Vogelzang to resign


EDMONTON – Alberta’s NDP are calling for John Vogelzang to resign his position with the Health Quality Council of Alberta after FOIP’d documents show Mr. Vogelzang made illegal political donations to the PC party while he was the CEO of David Thompson Health Region in Central Alberta.
 
“Because of the secrecy across all government departments, the HQCA is one of the only ways for Albertans to know what is happening in our healthcare system. How can we trust them to exercise good judgment and be forthcoming and impartial, as is their role, when there are PC insiders like Mr. Vogelzang influencing their decisions?” NDP Health Critic, David Eggen said today.
 
CBC Investigates released FOIP documents today that show John Vogelzang’s expense claims, including  illegal political donations made to the PC party before he was named to his current position on the HQCA board.
 
It wasn’t until after CBC filed its FOIP request that Vogelzang repaid nearly three thousand dollars to Alberta Health Services.
 
“This is a man who knew the jig was up. As soon as someone started sniffing around Mr. Vogelzang starting backpedaling,” said Eggen.
 
“The PCs have been weaving their web of insiders for 40 years, using them to funnel money back to the party. They will always be looking out for themselves. Albertans are not and never will be the priority under a PC government.”

NDP applauds the protection of the Castle Special Place

South Saskatchewan Regional Plan disappointing


EDMONTON – The NDP is applauding the government for listening to the activists and opposition parties who worked tirelessly to get the Castle Special Place protected NDP MLA, David Eggen said today.
 
The government released the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan, outlining land use framework for 44 per cent of the province, today.
 
The report includes significant changes to SSRP draft that came out earlier this year, increasing the area of the Castle Special Place that will be protected.
 
“The castle is such a special area. It needed to be protected. The government completely overlooked it in the first place, but we’re very happy to see the PCs have finally listened to Albertans and protected it,” said Eggen.
 
“That being said, the NDP would still like to see the entire Castle Special Place receive the same level of protection.”
 
The plan also fails to protect against industrial activity in the area. The SSRP maintains the status quo and prioritizes fossil fuel production and transportation over conservation, environmental protection and the development of southern Alberta’s abundant natural resources for renewable energy.
 
“Earlier this year we saw the PCs unwillingness to limit drilling within Lethbridge city limits. Only the sustained public pressure from residents and the NDP, got results,” said Eggen.
“This is yet another example of the PCs inability to put Southern Alberta families first by creating meaningful, responsible limits on industrial development in and around communities.”
 
“This government can’t be trusted to stand up to their corporate insider friends.”
 

NDP calls for responsible review of Alberta’s Justice system


EDMONTON – Alberta’s New Democrats said Monday that the announcement of an increase to the small claims limit won’t solve the numerous issues in Alberta’s courts, and are calling on the government to take meaningful steps to improve access to the provincial justice system, including properly funding Legal Aid.
 
The PCs announced today that Provincial Court’s small claims limit will increase from $25,000 to $50,000. The new $50,000 figure is the highest small claims limit in the country – more than double the next highest.
 
“Alberta Provincial Courts are already overloaded,” said New Democrat MLA David Eggen.
“This increase will only invite an influx of complex, time-consuming cases into a system that is already struggling to keep up. The problem is exacerbated by the number of people representing themselves in these complex cases. Now we’re talking about $50,000 lawsuits that require a significant amount of research and knowledge of the law. Many of those litigants will require frequent guidance from the courts, and need to have hearings re-scheduled as they try to navigate the system.”
 
The number of self-represented litigants is not tracked in Alberta, but self-represented matters in Court of Queen’s Bench increased from 12 per cent to 27 per cent from 2006 to 2012. Deputy Minister of Justice Ray Bodnarek admitted at a Public Accounts committee meeting on March 6, 2013 that self-represented litigants are slowing the system down.
 
Eggen said the small claims limit is connected with another major issue in Alberta’s courts: the crisis in Legal Aid. Last week, Legal Aid Alberta announced last week that they would be cutting drop-in services from most Alberta communities, a move which is expected to save $4 million over three years. Legal Aid Alberta has predicted a $15 million dollar deficit by 2016-2017.
 
“This PC government can’t be trusted to stand up for Albertans and to protect their rights in the justice system,” Eggen said. “The announcement today is just another short-sighted fix for a crisis that wouldn’t exist if the PCs funded Alberta’s essential services properly in the first place.”

New Democrats call for immediate review of breast cancer care


Breast cancer survivor Lucia Iorio and NDP Health critic David Eggen speak about the wait times for breast reconstruction surgery referrals. Iorio has been waiting more than 18 months for a referral for a plastic surgeon.
Breast cancer survivor Lucia Iorio and NDP Health critic David Eggen speak about the wait times for breast reconstruction surgery referrals. Iorio has been waiting more than 18 months for a referral for a plastic surgeon.

 

EDMONTON – A disorganized and disjointed health care system has created long waits for breast reconstruction surgery in Alberta, leaving patients waiting years for the surgery, said New Democrat Health critic David Eggen.
 
“Albertans deserve access to health care that serves them on every level, including giving them the peace of mind to know they will be taken care of every step of the way,” said New Democrat Health Critic, David Eggen.
 
Eggen was joined by a breast cancer survivor, Lucia Iorio, who first asked for a referral to a plastic surgeon for breast reconstruction surgery in January 2013, following her July 2011 surgery.
 
“When I look in the mirror, I don’t see myself. I want to feel whole again. This long wait to see a doctor is prolonging my suffering and holding me back from healing,” said Iorio.
 
Plastic surgeons across the province estimate wait times for a referral appointment to be from 1 to 2 years. According to AHS, 90% of patients receive breast reconstruction surgery within 52 weeks after seeing a specialist, meaning that for many patients, the wait is three years for the surgery.
 
Alberta’s New Democrats are calling on the minister to review breast cancer care in Alberta, looking specifically at wait times for reconstruction surgery.
 
“This PC government promises a health care system that is accessible to all Albertans, but when breast cancer survivors are waiting years for just to meet face to face with a plastic surgeon, I think it’s pretty clear our health care system is falling short of what’s been promised,” said Eggen.

Are you a breast cancer survivor who has experienced long waits for reconstruction surgery?
We want to hear your story. Tell the PCs wait times are too long! Comment here, send us a message on Facebook or write health critic David Eggen.

NDP calls for independent environmental assessment before Grand Rapids Pipeline is approved


 EDMONTON – In response to news that TransCanada now plans to submit an environmental protection plan for the Grand Rapids pipeline, New Democrat Environment Critic, Rachel Notley, called on the Alberta Energy Regulator to complete its own environmental assessment of the pipeline to ensure that important issues are addressed.
 
“The problem is that the environmental assessment needs to be completed independently, and then fully evaluated at the hearing stage. This is not something the company does for its own project after it’s granted approval,” said Notley.
 
TransCanada has made an application to begin construction on a pipeline that would carry 900,000 barrels of bitumen across Northern Alberta every day. Originally the company had planned to proceed without an environmental plan, but during the Alberta Energy Regulator hearing today, the company announced it will file a plan prior to proceeding with the 500 kilometer pipeline.
 
“Landowners and community members have a right to review and ask questions about the environmental implications of this project and the AER has a responsibility to ensure that process is fair and transparent,” said Notley.
 
As it’s proposed, the Grand Rapids pipeline would cross Alberta rivers four times, including the North Saskatchewan River, 30 kilometers from Fort Saskatchewan, and the Athabasca River, upstream from the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation.
 
“When the Northern Gateway pipeline was approved water crossings were identified as a major concern and a number of measures were recommended,” said Notley.
“It’s important that the same standard, if not a higher standard, is applied to this pipeline.”
 
The NDP are calling for these measures to be included in an independent environmental assessment.
 

  • A baseline study to track and monitor the water quality and health of aquatic flora and fauna in the North Saskatchewan and Athabasca rivers
  • The implementation of a research program on the behaviour and cleanup of heavy oil, that is specific to cold, freshwater rivers.
  • A leak detection plan
  • Detailed final drawings and plans for the proposed river crossings, including construction methods
  • Environmental monitoring system
  • Leak emergency plan

 
“Already, serious concerns have been raised around the implications of this massive project on Alberta communities. Due to its size, and complexity in the river crossings, it is the responsibility of the Alberta Energy Regulator to step in and complete an environmental assessment on this proposed project before it moves forward,” said Notley.

Auditor General responds to NDP’s call for Legal Aid audit


EDMONTON – New Democrat Justice critic Rachel Notley welcomed the news that Alberta’s Auditor General will undertake a systems audit of the funding provided to Legal Aid Alberta in response to her request. Legal Aid has been in crisis in recent months as a result of insufficient funding.
“Access to justice is critical to ensure that all Albertans are treated fairly,” Notley said.

“I hope that the Auditor General will fully investigate the costs to the system of this government’s failure to properly fund Legal Aid and provide strong recommendations about how to fix this mess. We continue to see a PC government that can’t be trusted with our money, never mind with protecting the rights of all Albertans.”

In the letter, the Auditor General remarks that “We appreciate the thoughtful analysis and insights you provided and will certainly consider it as we proceed with the audit.”

Legal Aid Alberta announced yesterday that they would be cutting drop-in services from most Alberta communities, a move which is expected to save $4 million over three years. Meanwhile, Alberta’s Justice Minister continues to blame the federal government for Legal Aid’s deficit, which only serves to evade responsibility for a serious problem with Alberta’s justice system.

“Every Albertan who interacts with the justice system is affected by this crisis—they see the delays in our already-overcrowded courts. What we don’t know is what other costs are associated with this, and that’s what I’m very hopeful the Auditor General will look into.”

The Auditor General’s letter is here. Notley’s original letter to the Auditor General is here.

AUDITOR GENERAL REPORT SHOWS GOVERNMENT STILL FAILING ON ACCOUNTABILITY


edmonton media, calgary media alberta legislature new democrats
New Democrat MLA David Eggen is calling on the PCs to start providing meaningful reporting to Albertans.
 
EDMONTON – Today’s Auditor General report strongly critiques Alberta’s PC government on a series of key issues, including accountability, environmental protection and ensuring safe health care services, said New Democrat MLA David Eggen.
 
“Once again, we see that this is a government that can’t be trusted to put Albertans first,” Eggen said. “Albertans believe in protecting our air and our water. Albertans want a public health care system that is closely monitored to ensure safety and quality. And Albertans want a government that ensures that they are clearly communicating their spending, their priorities and analyzing what’s working. This is simply what Albertans expect, but the PCs just aren’t delivering.”
 
The Auditor General strongly criticized the PCs’ results analysis in their annual reports, saying that they fail to provide proper analysis of government spending and programming.
 
The Auditor General goes on to say that the government continues to lag behind on accountability for its climate change strategy and has also failed to properly monitor safety and outcomes at contracted surgical facilities, where many Albertans receive services.
 
“Albertans have been clear that they want a government that takes climate change seriously and takes meaningful action, but this report says quite clearly that six years after the Auditor General first looked at this issue, the PCs have yet to implement any clear standards for what to do or what success looks like,” Eggen said.
 
“For the PCs to fail to follow-up on ensuring safety in our contracted surgical facilities directly endangers Alberta families. The message from this Auditor General report is clear: the PCs can’t be trusted to provide the services that Albertans need.”

GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO STEP UP AND PROTECT PEOPLE, ENVIRONMENT FROM OIL SANDS EFFECTS: NOTLEY


 
EDMONTON – The PC government needs to act on the study released today by Indigenous leaders and scientists that show the harmful effects that oil sands development has on the health of residents, wildlife and the environment in Northern Alberta, NDP Environment critic Rachel Notley said today.
 
The study funded by the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation and completed by the University of Manitoba, concludes that the negative effects of industrial operations in the Fort Chipewyan region have resulted in changes to traditional lifestyle and diet, which are impacting physical and mental health and community wellbeing, including high cancer rates in the region linked to eating traditional foods that are now contaminated with known carcinogens.
 
“This PC government has relied on denial and delay to cover up the relationship between community health hazards and industrial activity upstream from Athabasca indigenous communities. It is time for them to admit their wrongdoing and formally accept the findings of this report,” said Notley.
 
“This study shows that the previous AHS claim that there is no relationship between oil sands activity and downstream human health was based on political wishful thinking and not on science,” said Notley.
 
“Today, I urge the government to meet with the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation and Mikisew Cree First Nation with a new mandate to work together to urgently adopt measures that will protect these communities from further human health and environmental hazards due to unchecked industrial activity in the oil sands.”
 

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