News Release - August 23, 2005
$147 MILLION FOR SASKATCHEWAN MUNICIPALITIES UNDER THE NEW DEAL FOR CITIES AND COMMUNITIES
Prime Minister Paul Martin and Saskatchewan Government Relations Minister Len Taylor were joined today by Finance Minister Ralph Goodale and Minister of State (Infrastructure and Communities) John Godfrey to sign an agreement on federal gas tax investments for Saskatchewan's cities and communities. This agreement, which was witnessed by Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) President Don Schlosser and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) President Neal Hardy, is part of the Government of Canada's New Deal for Cities and Communities.
Saskatchewan municipalities will benefit from more than $147 million, over five years, in federal gas tax funding to be used for environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure and to fund increased municipal planning capacity. Funding totalling $17.7 million will flow in the first year, ramping up to $59.1 million in year five, continuing at that level thereafter.
"Today's agreement marks a new partnership," stated Prime Minister Martin, "one that will help ensure Saskatchewan's municipalities have the tools they need to grow stronger, more sustainable and to ensure a higher quality of life for their residents. Saskatchewan's cities and communities have stressed the need for new sources of funding, and for a voice in how those investments are made. We've listened."
"This is great news for Saskatchewan municipalities," Minister Taylor said. "Canada and Saskatchewan have a long and successful history of collaborative and cooperative administration of federal-provincial-municipal infrastructure programs. This continues with today's agreement that will see the provincial government administer the distribution of the federal funds to municipalities based on criteria negotiated by all three levels of government."
Minister Goodale noted that, "With today's announcement, Canada is demonstrating that we want our communities to be great places in which to live and we recognize that the future of our cities and towns is key to our quality of life and to the country's health and prosperity."
"Today represents a huge win for Saskatchewan cities and communities, both big and small," Minister Godfrey stated, "and is an example of the New Deal at work."
Gas tax funds, which will be invested in environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure, are targeted to help ensure cleaner air, cleaner water and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Eligible project categories include public transit, community energy systems, water, wastewater management, solid waste management, and roads and bridges, where it can be demonstrated that they will enhance environmental sustainability outcomes. Funding can also be used to help municipalities build the capacity to plan more sustainable communities.
Today's signing was witnessed by the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities. A New Deal Partnership Committee has been established and will enable both municipal associations to play a leading role by providing advice on project priorities for gas tax funding. The Partnership Committee will also be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the agreement and for developing further elements of the New Deal to benefit Saskatchewan's cities and communities. The municipal sector will play a key role in this.
SUMA President Schlosser applauded the agreement, noting that, "I'm thrilled with the newly created role for Saskatchewan's municipalities through the partnership committee." SARM President Hardy agreed, adding that, "This investment in Saskatchewan's municipal infrastructure is most welcome and will make a real difference in our communities."
This agreement builds on the Government of Canada's commitment to recognize municipal governments as partners in implementing Canada's national agenda. In addition, increased collaboration on projects and planning will be encouraged between First Nations communities and contiguous municipalities. Complementing funds allocated to provinces and territories for municipalities within their jurisdictions, First Nations are receiving a distinct amount of gas tax funding, totalling $62.5 million over five years across Canada.
The New Deal promotes the economic, social, environmental, and cultural sustainability of Canada's communities. It is focused on establishing a long-range vision for Canada's communities, building new relationships among all orders of government and with other partners, strengthening the connections among federal programs that benefit cities and communities, and providing predictable and stable long-term funding.
The Federal Budget 2004 gave municipalities the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rebate worth $7 billion over 10 years for their areas of greatest need, and accelerated the $1-billion Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund. Budget 2005 provided $5 billion over five years in gas tax funds, ramping up to $2 billion in year five and indefinitely thereafter. In addition, Budget 2005 also committed up to $800 million over the next two years for transit funding, of which Saskatchewan will receive $25 million. This funding will be dealt with under a separate agreement that is complementary to the New Deal agreement regarding gas tax funds.
Gas tax dollars are on top of the Government of Canada's existing infrastructure programs, which have committed over $12 billion over the last decade to infrastructure projects in communities across the country. The Federal Budget 2005 signalled the renewal of the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund and the Border Infrastructure Fund.
Saskatchewan has also taken steps to increase support to municipalities, including a $30 million annual increase in Revenue Sharing grants; matching the federal funding of $38 million for the Canada-Saskatchewan Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund; and participating in projects funded through the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, such as the deepening of Wascana Lake in Regina and South Downtown redevelopment in Saskatoon.
To date, seven gas tax agreements have been signed, including British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon, Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut, and agreements on the new transit funding have been signed for Ontario and Quebec. The Government of Canada expects to sign agreements with remaining jurisdictions in the coming weeks and months.
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