For immediate release
SARM Hopeful as Federal Budget Nears
Although no official date has been announced yet for the 2017 Federal Budget, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) is awaiting that announcement and the subsequent presentation of the budget. SARM is hopeful that it will provide more direction on how municipalities can access much needed funding. At this time, SARM would like to take the opportunity to reiterate its budget requests that were submitted in September 2016.
SARM put forward six recommendations to the Federal government in its consideration of this years’ budget. The first request focuses on improving rural broadband services. Reliable and high-speed broadband access is a central piece of being connected to the Canadian and global economy. SARM appreciates the investments being made with the Connect to Innovate program. That program, along with the recommendations to update existing service areas, spectrum auction rules and definitions are designed to improve rural broadband services.
To help build municipal capacity, SARM requested that the Canada-Saskatchewan Job Grant be expanded to include municipalities. The program is expected to be rolled out in March 2017. Expanding the program to municipalities will assist them in increasing their capacity by providing important funding for training new and existing employees. This will be a positive boost for local economies across Saskatchewan.
SARM has asked that the National Disaster Mitigation Program be enhanced so that more preventative measures may be taken to reduce damages from natural disasters. The Association has also requested that the Federal Government take steps towards establishing an Emergency Response Fund so that local Fire Departments can receive compensation in the event that their bills for services rendered go unpaid. Part of this recommendation also includes a provision to make service agreements mandatory between First Nations and municipalities to ensure that municipalities have the assurances they need to increase staff hours spent on road maintenance and to buy additional equipment, if needed.
Finally, SARM recommended that the Government commit funds from the New Building Canada Fund (NBCF) to the Public-Industry Partnership Program, a program developed by SARM in consultation with members and industry, as well as refine the NBCF eligibility criteria to ensure that rural municipalities (RM) in Saskatchewan have a more reasonable opportunity to access funding. Please visit www.sarm.ca/advocacy/submissions to view full details of the SARM’s federal budget requests.
“We are hopeful that the recommendations we’ve put forward for this year’s budget will be well received and implemented so that rural municipalities can enjoy the benefits of enhanced services and funding” said SARM President Ray Orb.
The Federal Government has said that it plans to allocate $186.7 billion in infrastructure spending over the next 11 years and SARM looks forward to working with the Federal Government to ensure that rural municipalities in Saskatchewan are able to access critical infrastructure funding.
“We are eagerly anticipating the release of the 2017 Federal Budget as we’re hopeful that more infrastructure dollars will flow to rural municipalities in Saskatchewan so that infrastructure projects can go ahead” said President Orb.
For more information, please contact: Jay MeyerExecutive Director(306) 761-3721