The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) is overall pleased with the federal government’s 2021 budget.
SARM highlighted the proposed addition of $1 billion for improving high-speed communications in rural and remote areas, the proposed investment of $1.9 billion (over four years) to recapitalize the National Trade Corridors Fund, and the earmarked $2.2 billion in new spending over the next seven years for the life sciences and bio-manufacturing sector.
The improvement of high-speed communications in rural and remote areas adds to the already $1.75 billion promised by the federal government back in November of last year, bringing the total to $2.75 billion by 2026.
“SARM is eager to see high-speed broadband in 98 per cent of the country by 2026, and 100 per cent by 2030, including rural Saskatchewan.”
As for the recapitalization of the National Trade Corridors Fund, SARM believes that this funding could attract approximately $2.7 billion from private and other public sector partners, resulting in total investments of $4.6 billion and spurring investments in much-needed enhancements to the provinces roads, rail, and shipping routes, building long-term resilience for the Canadian economy, and supporting internal trade.
As for the funding in the life sciences and bio-manufacturing sectors, the funding will go to organizations such as post-secondary institutions, hospitals, and grants councils to support new life-sciences companies, stem cell researchers, and vaccine developers and provide Canada with a more secure pipeline for vaccines in the future. This includes $59.2 million over three years dedicated to the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Saskatoon to continue vaccine development and expand its facility.
It wasn’t all positives as SARM had been asking the federal government to completely exempt natural gas and the propane used by farmers since the inception of the federally imposed carbon tax, something the federal government is yet to change their mind on, though they did announce a rebate.
“Although SARM acknowledges the announcement of initiatives that will help farmers transition to lower-carbon, more fuel-efficient ways of farming, we are committed to continuing our lobby to the federal government for a meaningful Carbon Sequestration Offset program that will reward Saskatchewan agricultural producers that are reducing greenhouse gas emissions on their farms and ranches,” the organization said in a media release.
SARM added that they will continue to be champions of rural Saskatchewan and will continue to advance the priorities for our members.
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