Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Royal Commission on Dominion-Provincial Relations

Dominion-Provincial Relations, Royal Commission on

Dominion-Provincial Relations, Royal Commission on (Rowell-Sirois Report) A landmark in the development of Canadian FEDERALISM, the commission was established (1937) unilaterally by the federal government to re-examine "the economic and financial basis of Confederation and the distribution of legislative powers in the light of the economic and social developments of the last 70 years."

Commonly named after its successive chairmen, N.W. Rowell and Joseph Sirois, the 3-volume report (1940) recommended a transfer of functions and a shifting of TAXATION power to the federal government and the creation of grants to the provinces to equalize provincial tax revenues, a principle enshrined in the 1982 Constitution. The federal government was to assume responsibility for unemployment insurance and contributory pensions, and full control of personal and corporate income taxes and succession duties, while taking responsibility for provincial debts. A program of National Adjustment Grants was to make payments to poorer provinces. On the grounds of administrative complexity, provincial autonomy and the need for legislative accountability, the commission rejected greater use of the shared-cost programs, which were to become a central device of postwar "co-operative federalism." WWII and opposition by some provinces prevented the adoption of many recommendations; others were introduced piecemeal. See also CONSTITUTIONAL PROBLEMS.