The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) is pleased with the government’s commitment to the provincial recovery from the effects of the pandemic and the $3.1 billion to help stimulate the economy and create jobs.
SARM is disappointed that the province was not able to fully fund changes to the AgriStability program that would provide higher margin coverage to AgriStability participants. We remain hopeful that funding contribution will be re-evaluated as our provincial economy improves.
SARM recognizes the importance in supporting Saskatchewan based oil and gas service companies and the roughly 2000 jobs in the sector and applaud the $200 million for the Accelerated Site Closure Program- a federally funded program to clean up abandoned oil and gas well sites.
Infrastructure is important in rural Saskatchewan and SARM appreciates the commitment of $66 million for maintenance and upgrades to dams and canals and the $18.9 million for phase one of the Lake Diefenbaker Irrigation- Westside expansion project. We also are pleased with the commitments related to municipal infrastructure for the Rural Integrated Roads for Growth program as well as the $530,000 earmarked for a new short-line rail infrastructure program to support the industry. We acknowledge SaskTel’s investment of more than $323 million this year to improve its networks and its commitment to complete its $107 million Wireless Saskatchewan program in 2021-22 as well as its investment of $75 million to improve cellular services for rural customers.
SARM is very supportive of the $1.4 million to add a new STARS helicopter to deliver emergency care to rural and remote areas that we know save lives.
SARM realizes there was a slight decrease in Municipal Revenue Sharing but is pleased that rural municipalities will be able to rely on access to $276 million for the 2021/2022 year. Reinstating the Community Rink Affordability Grant for RMs provides access to a $1.7 million program that helps cover operating costs, Covid-related costs and minor capital improvements.
Continued investment addressing rural crime is also welcome news to SARM. $845 million for protection of property and persons including $92 million for the Public Safety Agency and $12 million for the purchase of a wildfire aircraft will benefit our rural municipalities.
“Growth and sustainability in rural Saskatchewan are priorities for SARM,” said SARM President Ray Orb. “Reliable funding models, investments in infrastructure, and tools for crime prevention and emergency care support these priorities.”
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