For Immediate Release
SARM Encouraged by Federal Budget 2016
The Federal Government has released Budget 2016 and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) believes that many of the funding announcements made will assist municipalities in Saskatchewan.
“The Federal Government has recognized the importance of infrastructure with related investments of $120 billion over the next 10 years,” said SARM President Ray Orb. The Budget makes reference to examining new innovative financing instruments to reduce the cost of municipal infrastructure projects so that more are built and get started earlier. This is a strong sign that the Federal Government is open to these new innovative approaches to dealing with the infrastructure deficit. “We’re optimistic that the Federal Government will seriously consider the Public-Private Industry Partnership Program that we developed with input from rural municipalities and industry to finance municipal roads that are critical to the resource industry in Saskatchewan,” said President Orb.
SARM is pleased with the announcement that $5 billion will be invested over the next five years in water, waste water and green infrastructure projects across Canada. Water and waste water infrastructure are important assets that require major upgrades in rural Saskatchewan. It is also reassuring to see that the Federal Government will be making available approximately $3 billion annually in dedicated funding for municipal infrastructure projects through the Gas Tax Fund and the incremental Goods and Services Tax Rebate for municipalities. “We are hopeful to see increases to the federal contribution for eligible projects funded under the water and waste water fund to a minimum of 50%. This increase in the Federal Government’s share for water and waste water projects could free up money under the New Building Canada Fund for important road projects and SARM will be in discussions with the Province about this potential,” said SARM President Ray Orb.
Rural broadband access in rural Saskatchewan has been a long-standing issue; insufficient access to broadband is an obstacle to economic development for local businesses. The Budget 2016 announced that up to $500 million will be invested over five years to enhance broadband service in rural and remote communities. SARM will be pleased to work with the Federal Government, the Government of Saskatchewan, and SaskTel to help identify and decrease the number of areas with poor service in rural Saskatchewan.
SARM is also looking forward to working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), which has been allocated $50 million to support municipal asset management capacity building. SARM has spent a great deal of time over the last four years researching asset management, including examining ways to support the development of asset management plans and ways to build capacity. We are hopeful that FCM will take our asks into consideration when developing the funding criteria.
Agricultural science is receiving a boost to the tune of $30 million over six years to support the advanced research in agricultural genomics. This is in addition to the $41.5 million being allocated to modernize Agriculture Canada and Canadian Food Inspection Agency research stations in five provinces including Saskatchewan.
SARM is encouraged by the Budget 2016, as it offers plenty of opportunity to support rural municipalities in Saskatchewan. “While we are hopeful that the funding programs announced will benefit rural municipalities, we will continue to offer guidance to the Federal Government on how to address the unique challenges that our member municipalities face when accessing Federal funding, such as the nature of our populations and expansive land bases,” concluded President Orb.
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