Budget 2016: Making smart investments to strengthen northern and remote communities across Canada (16/03/2016)
OTTAWA - Today, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) called for the federal government to include bold plans to strengthen northern and remote communities in its upcoming budget. These communities have a range of solutions to build and maintain critical infrastructure, to respond to the effects of climate change, and to provide affordable housing for all residents. Recommendations for Strong Northern and Remote Communities are part of FCM’s full pre-budget submission, Cities and Communities: Rising to the Moment.
“Budget 2016 can mark a turning point for our northern and remote communities and the 150,000 people who live there,” said FCM President Raymond Louie. “They are an integral part of Canada’s social and economic fabric and any effective nation-building effort has to support strengthening the economy and quality of life for northern Canadians.”
Strong communities are built on strong foundations. Across Canada, local governments are responsible for 60 per cent of the country’s core public infrastructure. Northern and remote communities require a strong federal partner to help build and maintain good roads, airports, telecommunication links, and water and waste systems in the face of limited capital and a lack of population density. FCM’s budget recommendations call for smart investment tools to get local projects in smaller communities off the ground more quickly, with funding delivered on a base plus per capita funding model.
Any effort to build livable communities in northern Canada must include measures to protect against the increased effects of climate change. Local communities need to adapt public infrastructure such as roads and bridges to the impact of rising temperatures and to respond to natural disasters. Our federal partners should also work with local communities in expanding national disaster mitigation strategies beyond flooding to cover the full spectrum of risks, including drought, forest fires, invasive species and emerging consequences of climate change.
Federal budget 2016 must also include measures to resolve one of the key challenges to improving the lives of residents and attracting people and investment to the North: affordable housing and the high cost of living. FCM is looking for clear commitments in the upcoming federal budget to reinvest expiring social housing operating agreements and create a carve-out for the capital repair and renewal of Canada’s existing stock of social housing. Going forward, FCM is looking to partner with Ottawa to develop a Northern Affordable Housing Strategy, with a long-term funding plan that recognizes the geographic and cultural needs of those regions, and addresses housing pressures in communities affected by resource development. In order to address the persistently high cost of living in the north, FCM is also calling on the federal government to increase and index the Northern Residents Tax Deduction and improve the Nutrition North program.
“Canadians know that the key to developing our great hometowns is cooperation between all orders of government,” said FCM President Louie. “From fighting the effects of climate change, to building quality roads and recreation facilities, to creating safe communities for everybody, we are all stronger when we work together. The next budget is our opportunity to strengthen that collaboration between the federal and local governments to build the communities that Canadians deserve.”
FCM is the national voice of municipal government. In leading the municipal movement, FCM works to align federal and local priorities, recognizing that strong hometowns make for a strong Canada.