U of S research highlights challenges for rural communities

SASKATOON - University of Saskatchewan (U of S) research, pointing to a number of critical issues facing rural communities, will be featured in a national report on the state of rural Canada released today.

"Rural and northern communities across the province are facing serious policy challenges related to demographics, access to quality infrastructure, health care and education, and centralized decision-making," said Heather Hall, a post-doctoral fellow with the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development (ICNGD) at the U of S.

Hall, along with colleague Rose Olfert, professor emerita at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (JSGS), co-authored the Saskatchewan chapter of the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation's State of Rural Canada report, a publication that identifies key trends within each province and territory and provides a series of recommendations for advancing rural development across Canada. Ken Coates, JSGS professor and ICNGD director, also co-authored the Yukon chapter.

"Long-term trends of urbanization and concentration of economic activity, and the resulting population redistribution, will likely continue in the province," explained Olfert. "Rural opportunities lie in good and efficient government for the rural population, providing broad-based support to encourage local entrepreneurship, and ensuring transportation and communication access to economic opportunities, globally as well as locally."

The key findings of the report show rural Canada is facing a mix of demographic, economic and social challenges including an aging population and a need to provide new development opportunities for younger workers. The report also points out that rural Canada has proved itself to be innovative in terms of responding to the pressures of low-cost global competitors.

With limited resources, but drawing on strong social ties, rural regions and local organizations are models of innovation, doing more with less and achieving positive impacts for their communities. Environmentally, rural regions are on the front line of such issues as sustainability, food security and balancing resource developments and economic diversification with the social and environmental impacts on their communities.

The full report, executive summary and a complete list of recommendations and findings, are available at sorc.crrf.ca.


For more information on the Saskatchewan chapter, contact:

Erica Schindel
Communications and Marketing Specialist
Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy
University of Saskatchewan

James Shewaga
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan

For more information on the complete report, contact:
Al Lauzon
Report author, CRRF President
University of Guelph

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