Alberta Liberals David Khan and David Swann have released the following statement in response to today’s announcement from Alberta Justice:
Alberta’s Justice Minister announced the government is introducing more duty counsel services at first appearance bail hearings to reduce court backlogs.
Both Khan and Swann say this will help as a limited step forward - but ultimately this is a grossly inadequate solution.
“We are supportive of the move but it does not address the real issues. The NDP Government lacks a comprehensive strategy to address systemic problems with court wait times.”
Khan stated, “This only addresses first appearances. There is too much self-representation in the courts which slows down trials, clogs up the system and denies disadvantaged Albertans a fair and equitable hearing.
“The Government should be heeding the advice of Criminal Defence Lawyer Association (CDLA) and providing an immediate 40% funding increase for Legal Aid as part of a 65% increase over the next four years. We also need to see income thresholds for support raised. Too many Albertans who need this service aren’t even eligible to receive it.
Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann is demanding the Justice Minister take responsibility for Calgary’s broken Medical Examiner Office and act swiftly to address systemic issues:
Swann is calling for concrete action to deal with the staff revolving door at the Calgary ME Office and repeated reports of lengthy turnaround times for death investigations and the impacts on morale that result.
Swann stated, “Eleven months waiting for drug toxicology and final reporting is unacceptable.
“The Minister has not met her 2017 commitment to reduce turnaround times by 50% and now 4 out of 5 pathologists have left or are leaving the Calgary office. This seriously compromises death investigations including homicides and overdoses.
“Despite extra training, forensic pathologists working in the Justice department are receiving substantially less pay and benefits than their AHS counterparts and will continue to leave for better working conditions elsewhere in North America. Additionally, they receive no pay incentive to address massive backlogs with such departures.
“Dealing with these issues is a necessary first step to addressing high-turnaround times and high turnover rates.”
Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann and Liberal Leader David Khan are calling for action from the NDP Government on the Siksika Nation state of emergency flooding crisis:
Alberta Liberal MLA David Swann says the NDP Government should immediately reach out to support the Siksika Nation as it is facing a crisis today and not wait for proposed changes to the Emergency Management Act in the fall.
The Siksika Nation has declared a 7-day local state of emergency as it struggles with massive overland flooding and limited resources to deal with the crisis.
Siksika Nation chief and council says there is a risk to people, property and infrastructure.