The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) is waiting for the announcement of the 2017 Federal Budget. SARM stays hopeful that the budget will allow some funding to funnel into the municipalities. At this time, SARM also reiterates budget requests that were submitted in September 2016. The association put forward six recommendations that they would like to see the Federal government consider while working out this years' budget. 

The first request focuses on the use and improvement of rural broadband services. Internet has become a central piece of being connected to the Canadian and global economy. SARM appreciates the investments being made with the Connect to Innovate program. SARM also wishes the existing service areas will be updates. 

The second recommendation, is that the Canada-Saskatchewan Job Grant be expanded to include municipalities. Expanding this program will allow municipalities to increase their capacity by providing funding for training new and existing employees. In turn, this would be a positive boost for local Saskatchewan economies. 

The third, SARM has asked the National Disaster Mitigation Program be improved so more preventative measures can be taken to reduce the impact of natural disasters. 

SARM also requests that steps are taken to establish an Emergency Response Fund so local Fire Departments can receive compensation in the event that bills for services go unpaid. Part of this recommendation is that a service agreement between municipalities and First Nations are made mandatory. The agreement? In turn, municipalities would have the assurance they need to increase staff hours spent on road maintenance and to buy additional equipment if needed. 

Finally, SARM recommends that the Government commit funds from the New Building Canada Fund (NBCF) to the Public-Industry Partnership Program (PIPP). PIPP is a program developed by SARM in consultation with members and industry. They also wish the NBCF is refined to give RMs a more reasonable opportunity to access funding. 

The Federal Government has plans to allocate $186.7 billion in infrastructure spending over the next 11 years. SARM looks forward to working with the Government and ensuring that the RMs of Saskatchewan are able to access critical infrastructure funding.