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SUMA expresses disappointment in federal budget

SUMA cites lack of mental health support, failure to address impact of RCMP agreement
Yorkton Councillor and new SUMA president Randy Goulden. (File Photo)

REGINA ‑ The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association has expressed disappointment in the 2022 federal budget.

In a news release this week, SUMA expressed disappointment that the federal government failed to address mental health and addictions or ensure equal access to broadband, clean water and safe transportation.

“Affordable housing is an important element of mental health for many, and housing is top of mind for many in Saskatchewan,” SUMA President Randy Goulden said in a news release. “We applaud the extension of the Rapid Housing Initiative that funds affordable housing projects, and the Housing Accelerator Fund has the potential to help hometowns get new housing built faster. However, we are disappointed in what we see as an overall lack of support to address mental health and addictions in our communities.”

SUMA also said a more proactive focus on mental health and addictions is needed. While the budget references development of a new Canada Mental Health Transfer to support the expansion and delivery of accessible mental health services, the organization notes few details are available.

Also, SUMA expressed disappointment the budget does not address the impact of the federally negotiated RCMP labour agreement on municipalities. It was noted that in Saskatchewan, both the minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety and the leader of the Opposition have supported SUMA’s call for the feds to absorb the entire financial impact of the retroactive wage compensation for 2017-2021.   

“SUMA truly values the work of those protecting our communities,” Goulden said in a statement. “But we were not at the table when the RCMP retroactive pay increases were negotiated, and the increased costs significantly impact hometown budgets. Our hometowns cannot run deficit budgets, meaning increased costs in policing passed to municipalities need to be funded through increased taxes or reduction of municipal services in other areas.”

SUMA as well the Federation of Canadian Municipalities are also calling on the feds to invest in high-speed internet, clean water and transportation infrastructure, and inter-community bus services. Goulden states every Saskatchewan resident "deserves access to reliable, high-speed internet, clean water, and safe transportation infrastructure."

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