OTTAWA – Eleven weeks from a crucial federal election, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is calling on every national party to commit to making ground-breaking progress for Canadians living in rural communities across the country.
“Rural communities are essential to Canada’s economy and quality of life,” said FCM President Bill Karsten. “From resources to manufacturing to tourism, their industries drive nearly a third of our national economy, and local leaders are making the most of existing tools to build better lives. But delivering the quality of life people deserve will require modernized tools that better recognize rural realities, expertise and potential.”
Working with FCM, successive federal governments have taken steps to empower rural communities. This year’s federal budget commits unprecedented investment in better Internet connectivity, building on earlier initiatives. Municipalities are benefitting from a 10-year rural infrastructure fund with up to 60 percent federal cost-sharing. Federal strategies on economic development and connectivity are moving toward applying a "rural lens" to more priorities.
The essential next step, however, is to continue building that “rural lens” into the very heart of federal government. That means more widely adapting federal policies and programs to rural realities, and better recognizing rural expertise in federal decision-making.
Initiatives that must flow from applying a “rural lens” to government include:
- Modernizing and streamlining funding tools that rural communities rely on to build better lives, including by doubling the reliable and predictable federal Gas Tax Fund transfer.
- Ensuring new broadband investments translate into reliable Internet connections that support economic growth and a modern quality of life.
- Working in partnership with local leaders to promote rural economic development.
- Recognizing rural realities in planning national initiatives, from affordable housing to disaster mitigation and climate adaptation.
“From geography to climate to demographics, rural communities face unique challenges that can’t be solved with cookie-cutter approaches,” said Karsten. “Local leaders are experts in assessing those needs and delivering solutions that work. But to build better lives, it’s time to modernize outdated funding tools—and this starts with deliberately applying a rural lens to what Ottawa is doing. We’re looking for a very strong commitment here from every national party.”Source : FCM