GOVERNMENT FINALLY DOES RIGHT THING ON PDD SAFETY REVIEW
CALGARY, AB, September 18, 2015: Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann joined Alberta’s non-profit organizations in celebrating an announcement that the government will hit the pause button on a government safety review that risked forcing many persons with developmental disabilities out of their homes.
“I’m pleased the government has finally done the right thing and will review this process to ensure that we strike the right balance on this issue,” says Swann. “For Alberta Liberals, this has always been about ensuring this process meets the real needs of disabled individuals.”
Swann had previously called on the government to review its safety review process after non-profit organizations raised alarm bells that the high cost of the safety inspections and required renovations would force disabled individuals out of their homes.
“Some of Alberta’s most vulnerable individuals have successfully stood up and asked that this government listen to their concerns and meet their needs,” says Swann. “That is indeed a victory. Now let’s all get to work on creating a better process to serve the needs of this community.”
EDMONTON SCHOOL BOARD MUST RESPECT LAW WITH TRANSGENDER POLICY
September 16, 2015: Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann welcomed comments today by Education Minister David Eggen calling on the Edmonton Catholic School Board to produce an inclusivity policy to protect Transgender students.
“I am grateful that the minister has gone on record on this important issue of ensuring respectful and inclusive schools,” says Swann. “The school board has a duty under law to provide an inclusive and safe environment for these students, regardless of gender identity or gender expression.”
Last night the trustees of the Edmonton Catholic School Board deferred a policy on inclusivity arising out of a request by a transgender elementary student to use the girls’ washroom. The deferral followed a long and often tense discussion surrounding the needs of transgender students and the nature of discrimination.
Under section 45.1(1) of the School Act boards have a “responsibility to ensure that each student … is provided with a welcoming, caring, respectful and safe learning environment that respects diversity”.
Swann added that this incident also highlights the need to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act.
“At last night’s board meeting there was a drawn out discussion about whether what this young girl had gone through even constituted discrimination,” noted Swann. “Clearly it did.
“What is needed is an explicit prohibition on discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. I hope the government will act on that as well.”
MERRIFIELD FIRING SHOULD SPUR CREATION OF INDEPENDENT APPOINTMENTS COMMISSION
Following the firing of Alberta’s Senior Representative to the U.S. by the NDP government, Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann is once again calling for the creation of an independent public appointments commission to manage the recruitment and vetting process for candidates seeking appointments to agencies, boards and commissions and other key provincial positions.
“For decades, the former PC administration presided over an increasingly flawed and discredited public appointments process whereby political party affiliation gradually came to trump skill and experience,” says Swann. “We now have a tremendous opportunity in the first year of this new Alberta government to fix this repugnant aspect of the PC legacy.”
Alberta Liberals have long advocated for an independent appointments commission modeled after Ontario’s Public Appointments Secretariat. Such an idea has enjoyed support at all levels of government and among those of every political stripe.
Swann notes that there are important lessons to be learned from both Rob Merrifield’s hiring and dismissal.
“Here you had an individual whose appointment seemed to be based solely on his connection to the former premier. When Albertans elected a new government, he was promptly shown the door,” says Swann.
“At no point in this entire saga was there ever any independent review of whether he was the right person – or indeed the wrong person – for the job. We can and should do better than that, and the obvious solution is having an independent commission pick the best candidate for the job among all interested and qualified persons.”
Swann questioned Premier Notley about the creation of an independent appointments commission during the summer session.