Despite the pandemic, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities remains committed to lobby efforts
Representatives of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) are dedicated to advocating for members during the COVID-19 crisis.
As most people in Saskatchewan started working from home, the situation brought the limitations of rural Internet to the forefront, said Ray Orb, president of SARM.
“Broadband is not reliable throughout rural Saskatchewan,” Orb told Farms.com.
It’s been tough not only for SARM to get messages out to municipalities and councils, but also for people living in rural communities to do their work and for rural municipalities to connect with their ratepayers. SARM representatives are working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to lobby the federal government on the issue of rural Internet, said Orb.
“The federal government has a new fund for broadband expansion into rural areas across the country and they haven't actually unveiled (the program) yet. We've been pushing them to do it soon than later. The (feds) announced about a year ago that the funding was going to be put in place. So, we've been pushing them to get that funding out the door faster,” said Orb.
SARM representatives are also working with ratepayers who may need help in the fall when it comes to paying taxes.
“In the next month or so, rates will be set. Then, farms and ranches will get their tax notices, but those taxes aren't actually due until September. We're not sure what the effects are going to be yet on the agricultural sector. ... But we've been getting some correspondence from associations in the oil industry that says ‘Look, we're going to have trouble paying taxes in the fall,’” said Orb.
Overall, SARM staff continue to work hard for their members and want to remind every to stay safe.
“If we can work together on this, we'll get out of this together too,” said Orb.
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