Madam Speaker, it is great to be here with all my colleagues, both physically here in the House and virtually. I am honoured to take part in this debate, as a westerner by birth and someone who lives in Ontario now. It is always great to support my colleagues in the beautiful province of Saskatchewan.
Today we are considering a request from Saskatchewan to amend a part of the Canadian Constitution. It is a small part, it is true, but such a request deserves our immediate attention because it is long overdue. Parliamentarians who wish to do so should have a say. We are having this debate because on November 29 of last year, the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan unanimously passed a resolution to repeal a section of the Saskatchewan Act.
History buffs, and I know there are many in the House, will know this act received royal assent in 1905. It is best know for having created the province of Saskatchewan, and it was adopted at the same time as the Alberta Act, creating the province of Alberta. Both were created from parts of the Northwest Territories. Alberta and Saskatchewan became the eight and ninth provinces of Canada on September 1, 1905. Both acts were enshrined in the Canadian Constitution in 1982, and this why the change requested by Saskatchewan requires an amendment to the Canadian Constitution.
The resolution passed by the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan specifically calls for the repeal of section 24 of the Saskatchewan Act. This section relates to the clause of a contract signed in 1880 between the Government of Canada and the founders of the Canadian Pacific Railway company.
I want to note that I will be sharing my time with the hon. member for Winnipeg South Centre.
At the time, Saskatchewan was not yet a province and Sir John A. Macdonald was the Prime Minister. In a nutshell, the clause exempted the CPR from certain federal, provincial and municipal taxes.
As noted in Saskatchewan's resolution, a large corporation should not be exempt from paying provincial taxes. I agree with this assessment. Our government has been very clear that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes, and that certainly includes corporations.
We are focused on strengthening the middle class and building an economy that works for everyone. To do that, Canadians need a tax system that is fair and equitable. It is why we cut taxes for the middle class and asked the wealthiest 1% to pay a little more. It is also why we want to make sure companies, including large digital corporations, pay their fair share of tax in Canada.
Corporations need to pay a fair share of tax in the jurisdiction where their users and customers are located. Whatever the historical context, there is no reason in this day and age the CPR should get the benefit of a tax exemption that no on else receives. It is not consistent with Canada's current tax policies, nor with its fiscal policies.
If the Government of Saskatchewan wants to make the tax system fair, it will wholeheartedly find support on this side of the House. It is great to see collaboration among the parties. It is what Canadians sent us here for: to work for their interests and make this country a better place.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on the importance of delivering services to Canadians in a timely and efficient manner. Our economic response plan has helped Canadians and businesses weather the storm, including the wonderful and kind people of Saskatchewan. Let me share some of the specifics with the House.
Thus far, the federal government has allocated more than three million doses of COVID vaccines to Saskatchewan. Several million rapid tests have also been shipped to the province. All of that was free of charge.
The Canada emergency wage subsidy has protected more than 100,000 jobs in Saskatchewan. About 30,000 loans totalling $1.6 billion have been made to Saskatchewan businesses through the Canada emergency business account. More than 240,000 Saskatchewan residents received support through the Canada emergency response benefit at some point. Out of a population of 1.1 million, that is more than one in five people, or over 20%. In addition to this, in 2021-22, Saskatchewan is receiving $1.3 billion through the Canada health transfer and an additional $478 million through the Canada social transfer.
Canada works best when governments work collaboratively in the interest of Canadians. In this regard, I would like to point out that the “land of living skies” is one of the jurisdictions with which the federal government has entered into an agreement to build a Canada-wide early learning and child care system.