Western Canada. municipalities collectively seek federal action on key issues

Western Canadian municipalities call on the federal government to act on key issues shared by the Prairie provinces

At its annual meeting in Edmonton last week, the Western Canadian Municipal Associations (WCMA) expressed concern about access to infrastructure funding, the implications of proposed fertilizer emission reduction targets, the uncertainty surrounding RCMP funding, poor access to high-speed Internet for rural and remote areas. and access to health services, including mental health and addictions support.

Providing a collective voice for municipal associations in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, WCMA is calling for a permanent doubling of the Community Development Fund of Canada to help meet the infrastructure needs of municipalities.

“Municipalities need a seat at the table,” said Cathy Heron, Alberta Municipal Chair, in a press release. “We are often required to share costs with the federal and provincial governments, but we have no say in negotiating infrastructure agreements. Our expertise, our ideas and our priorities are essential to the process.

The WCMA says the federal government continues to miss the mark when it comes to improving connectivity.

“Broadband access for small, rural and remote communities across the Prairies continues to be a challenge despite several funding announcements by provincial and federal governments,” said Paul McLauchlin, Chair of Rural Municipalities of Alberta. Western Canadian peers offers a huge opportunity to identify collaborative solutions to push the Government of Canada to distribute funding transparently and in a way that promotes improved connectivity in the most underserved areas.

The WCMA is seeking clarification on the future role of the RCMP in providing contract policing services to municipalities. He also wants assurances that the federal government will cover all retroactive wages agreed to in a collective agreement reached last December.

“Despite being paying contracting partners, municipalities have been completely excluded from the RCMP’s collective bargaining process,” jointly state Brad Saluk and Chris Ewen, vice-presidents of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities.

“While we appreciate the Government of Canada suspending bills to municipalities, the federal government must find an immediate solution to retroactive police bills. Going forward, we will continue to call on the federal government to fully absorb all retroactive wage increases.

The association says the proposed 30% reduction in fertilizer emissions would unfairly target the agriculture industry, which it says is already at the forefront of emissions reduction efforts.

“Western Canadian agricultural producers are the most technologically advanced in the world,” says Ray Orb, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities. “Heavy restrictions on fertilizer use would pave the way for unsustainable agriculture in Canada, resulting in lower production. and reduced food security.

He believes that municipalities in Western Canada are challenged by the continued devolution of responsibilities without a corresponding increase in funding or support for health care, mental health and addictions support, noting that they were already at a critical level before the pandemic and have only worsened since.

The WCMA is also calling on the federal government to better recognize the importance of the oil and gas sector to the Canadian economy.

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