Rural priorities led the agenda on this second full day of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ annual conference. More than 2,000 local leaders from every province and territory are gathered here to seize new opportunities presented by the coming federal election.
“Rural communities help drive this country’s progress, and this federal election needs to drive progress for rural communities,” said FCM President Vicki-May Hamm. “That means building on our recent gains. And that means significantly modernizing our relationship with the federal government—and the tools available to us to build better lives.”
Today’s Rural Plenary session convened a panel of experts to discuss tools that local leaders need to build vibrant rural economies. Kicked off by Bernadette Jordan, federal Minister of Rural Economic Development, the panel also featured:
- Leann Hackman-Carty, Chief Executive Officer, Economic Developers Alberta
- Sarah Minnes, Board member, Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation
- Lisa Severson, Chief Administrative Officer, Eastern Ontario Regional Network
- Leanne McBean, Business Development Specialist, Sturgeon County, Alberta
- Nadia Minassian, Présidente de la Table sur le développement local et régional et préfète de la MRC du Rocher-Percé, Québec.
Panelists focused on challenges of attracting and retaining businesses and workers, and improving infrastructure with limited tools. They stressed the game-changing potential of better high-speed Internet access—following a federal budget that responded to FCM’s call for major broadband investment. That same budget set a new standard for the fall election by doubling this year’s direct Gas Tax Fund transfer to municipalities for better roads, bridges and other core infrastructure.
Earlier, Minister Jordan joined MPs from various parties for a Rural Town Hall on federal support for rural economic growth. A wider “rural stream” of FCM’s conference program features workshops and study tours dedicated to rural priorities. Tomorrow, a much-anticipated breakfast workshop will spotlight challenges and opportunities in Canada’s energy-producing regions. And rural priorities have figured in election-focused sessions all week, including plenary sessions with all four national party leaders.
“From agriculture to energy, from manufacturing to tourism, rural communities are vital players in this country’s progress,” said Ray Orb, Chair of FCM’s Rural Forum. “We’re making the most of the tools we’ve got to build better lives, and recent gains are helping. But to unlock the potential of our rural communities, we’ll need to modernize how we work with the federal government, and this election campaign is a pivotal opportunity to make that happen.”
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of local government, with nearly 2,000 member cities and communities representing more than 90 per cent of Canadians.
For more information: FCM Media Relations, (613) 907-6395, email@example.com