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Positive reaction from SUMA, SARM to budget

Municipal organizations SUMA and SARM both welcomed increase in municipal revenue sharing, but still face challenges.
Yorkton Councillor, FCM representative and SUMA President Randy Goulden. (File Photo)

REGINA - Municipalities in the province are welcoming the increased funding coming to communities from the provincial budget.

Both the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities say they welcomed the increase in municipal revenue sharing from $262 million in 2022/23 to $297.9 million in this budget.

Randy Goulden, president of SUMA, told reporters at the Legislature Wednesday she was “very pleased with what we heard about the increase in municipal revenue sharing. It’s the highest it’s ever been, so we’re very pleased and this funding will go into our municipalities to help with the cost of the services that we provide for our residents.”

She was also happy to see increases in funding to EMS services to 27 communities, and transportation funding increases to northern communities in the budget as well as an $8 million increase to forestry.

But Goulden would have liked to see a removal of the PST on construction labour cost, saying that “has been a huge cost line for our municipalities.”

Goulden acknowledged the pressures municipalities are under due to rising costs in general. She cited the cost municipalities face in maintaining their recreation and cultural facilities, as well as the increases in power and energy.

“If I had to answer the question is it enough? No, it’s not enough, because municipalities cannot run deficits.So I can speak for my municipality (Yorkton), when we’re doing our budget this year was very difficult. So you’re looking at the impact that it might have on where do we save, where do we cut? We still want to provide the same services, but we have less dollars to do it with.”

In a statement, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities said they were encouraged by the ongoing support for rural Saskatchewan in this provincial budget, in particular pointing to the increase to health care.

Their news release pointed out the budget increases the total investment into the province’s healthcare sector by 6.7 per cent, something SARM says is desperately needed due to service disruptions, aging facilities, and recruitment challenges.

“More funding is needed so RMs can continue to provide a level of service expected by sectors driving Saskatchewan’s economy including preparing for future growth in the critical minerals sector. We are hopeful more can be allocated in the near future,” said Ray Orb, SARM President, in a news release.

SARM also welcomed the funding in the budget for farm support programs and for crime reduction initiatives, as well as $8.9 million for the Saskatchewan Firearms Program Funding. They also welcomed the investments in rural road and bridge infrastructure. 

“We were pleased with the continued investment of $15 million for the Rural Integrated Roads for Growth (RIRG) program but more is needed if we want to revitalize and sustain this critical rural network into the future,” said Orb.

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