The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) has considered the federal government’s 2022 “A Plan to Grow our Economy and Make Life More Affordable” budget, tabled on Thursday, April 7. SARM looks forward to a potential relief in the rural healthcare system but is disappointed that it does not include more to support Canada’s farmers and the agriculture industry and has concerns with the oil and gas sector tax sharing elimination.
“The elimination of the flow-through share tax credit for oil, gas, and coal activities is alarming as Canadian companies were using this to assist in exploration and development,” says SARM President Ray Orb. With Canada having the third largest proven oil reserve in the world, accounting for 10% of the world’s proven reserves, even more Canadian oil will be recoverable as technology improves over the years. Orb says, “the federal government should be encouraging the use of these reserves to diversify and stimulate our economy.”
Agriculture and the agri-food sector are cornerstones of Canada’s economy that not only feed our country, but the world. With increasing food insecurity issues stemming from Russia’s war on Ukraine ensuring our farmers are fully supported to do what they do best has never been more important. SARM is encouraged by the Federal Government’s continued $600 million in funding for the Canadian Agriculture Partnership Programs (CAP). President Orb says, “these are critical supports for Canadian agriculture producers and SARM looks forward to ongoing federal consultations where our input can help to make sure they are working for farmers and ranchers in the fields and pastures.”
The mixed signals on the benefits of carbon sequestration that farmers and ranchers are already providing to the environment are disappointing. Clarity is needed on how the agricultural community will be rewarded, rather than continuing to be penalized by an unfair tax on carbon. The United States and the European Union are receiving nearly 40% of their farm income in government support. “Canadian producers can’t compete with countries that support their producers rather than penalize them with an unfair tax on carbon with no indication of how they can be rewarded for their vast efforts to sequester carbon,” says Orb.
A bright point of note is the loan forgiveness for doctors and nurses in rural/remote communities. The proposed $26.2 million over four years, starting in 2023-24, and $7 million ongoing to increase the maximum amount of forgivable Canada Student Loans by 50 percent will mean up to $30,000 in loan forgiveness for nurses and up to $60,000 in loan forgiveness for doctors working in underserved rural or remote communities. SARM looks forward to details on this program and hopes it can help relieve some of the strain on the rural healthcare system in Saskatchewan by encouraging rural health care providers to stay where we desperately need them.
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Background: SARM is the independent association that represents its membership of rural municipal government in Saskatchewan and is the principal advocate in representing them before senior governments.