The importance of rural Canada


While vast, rural Canada is far from empty. It is to more than 10 million citizens: rural Canadians as diverse and unique as their urban counterparts.

Rural Canada provides employment, forest products, minerals, oil and gas, manufactured goods, food security and foreign exchange. It educates a third of Canada's youth, manages the environment and provides a wonderland of recreational amenities for all Canadians to enjoy. When rural communities succeed, the nation succeeds, and cities and suburbs have more resources for continued growth and prosperity.

When rural communities falter, however, it drains the nation’s prosperity and limits what Canadians can accomplish together. A vital rural Canada has a contribution to make in this effort and the responsibility to take on that endeavour.

So what can be done to ensure that Canada has vibrant and healthy rural communities?

Canada’s rural leaders released a ground-breaking report—One Vision, Many Voices: How to Build a Sustainable Rural Canada—that outlines both the priorities of their communities and a plan for sustainability. The report is based on the themes and recommendations of the Rural Matters! Forging Healthy Canadian Communities national symposium held in the summer of 2008 in Edmonton, Alberta.

One Vision, Many Voices: How to Build a Sustainable Rural Canada


Rural Matters! was not designed resolve every challenge in rural Canada, but to act as a catalyst for actions that would sustain a rural way of life. It demonstrated that, while there are many strong and intelligent voices nationwide, there is a clear vision of a strong, vibrant and sustainable rural Canada. Rural leaders know that change will not occur instantly. However, gaining commitment from all levels of government to build a comprehensive action plan for rural sustainability is the ultimate outcome.

How to build a sustainable rural Canada

Download recommendations key messages Increase cooperation and partnerships among rural municipalities, senior levels of government, industry, rural stakeholders and Aboriginal communities. Increase educational opportunities by reducing the barriers to post-secondary opportunities. Increase high-speed connectivity in rural and remote regions to ensure access to critical information and promote opportunities. Ensure stable, predictable funding for local and regional governments, not necessarily based on population. Establish a federal ministry dealing solely with issues and opportunities of rural and remote Canada. Establish a rural network to share best practices for rural economics, infrastructure, environment and governance across all Canadian jurisdictions. Communicate the Rural Matters! Symposium’s message to decision makers, rural organizations and community leaders.

Rural Canadian Priorities

Governance and Sustainability

Download governance key messages
Restructure power and authority to municipal government Clearly define levels of responsibilityBuild capacity to address short- and long-term community needs Institute long-term regional planning Develop community plans that engage all stakeholders Always consider a regional approach Allow for municipal fiscal capacity


Download infrastructure key messages
Promote partnerships and cooperation with neighbours Provide more sustainable funding and training programs Increase revenues Reduce the regulatory burden Make use of new technologies Pool educational assets Improve communication and access to services Showcase quality of life


Download economic key messages
Be fiscally responsible and innovative Meet local needs to retain workers Provide adequate physical, social and cultural infrastructure Review appropriate levels of government taxation Ensure industry development respects community standards Reduce or eliminate barriers to growth and development Organize and mobilize resources


Download environment key messages
Develop incentives for stewardship practices Develop and adopt environmentally supportive polices Reduce emissions through technology Practice water conservation Create effective policies and legislation to protect the environment Develop local solutionsDevelop efficient solid waste strategies Develop rural solutions for rural Canada

Rural Matters! by the numbers

Download Symposium Handbook

4 days
+800 delegates
+30 workshops


30 priorities
7 recommendations
97% participant satisfaction level

Steeves4 View photos of the event by visiting our Flickr page


Rural Still Matters!  AAMDC continues local efforts


As the host of the symposium and the voice for rural Alberta, the AAMDC continues to do its part to forward the ideas and priorities set out by Rural Matters! To move local government forward in Alberta, the AAMDC has built a new initiative—Rural Still Matters!

There’s been a lot of discussion about municipalities and how they interact with other levels of government. It is important to capitalize on the opportunity it represents. AAMDC members have been encouraged to join the discussion and inform decision-makers of these priorities and recommendations. It is a shared responsibility to move these messages forward and work for their successful outcome in the best interest of citizens. Click here to learn more.