Government of Canada

Canada is a federation, with a parliamentary system of government. Being a federation means that powers and responsibilities are divided between the federal government and the 10 provincial governments. The ten provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Saskatchewan and three territories are Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut. These governments are authorized to legislate only within their regional geography, but enjoy a wide range of powers and responsibilities.

Canada has three levels of government: federal, provincial and municipal (cities and towns). These governments are elected by the citizens of Canada.

Federal government (Government of Canada)

Federal government is authorized to enact legislation across the entire nation, and enjoys its own powers and areas of responsibility. In many cases, these federal responsibilities are related to areas deemed to be of national interest as opposed to simply regional or local interests. The federal government is granted its own powers and responsibilities, which cannot be altered unilaterally by another level of government.

The federal government is responsible for:
  • Defence
  • Foreign policy and foreign relations
  • Banking
  • The postal service
  • Criminal law
  • Immigration
  • Citizenship

Provincial and Territorial governments

Provincial government: Provincial governments in Canada are commonly referred to as a ?level of government.? The provinces, as a regional level of government, have their own specific powers and jurisdictions, and are authorized to pass legislation within their particular regional boundaries. Canada has 10 provincial governments: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The provincial governments granted constitutional powers that cannot be altered unilaterally by other levels of government, such as the federal government.

Provincial governments are responsible for:
  • Education
  • Municipal institutions
They also share responsibility with the federal government for:
  • Health services
  • Farming
  • Social assistance
  • Transportation
  • Environment

Territorial government: The Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut are not sovereign units. They get their powers from the federal parliament, but they have elected assemblies that follow many of the same practices as the provincial governments.

Municipal government

Municipal government is a local government created by the provinces to provide services that can be more effectively handled under local control. The powers and responsibilities which municipal governments may exercise are usually set out in a general municipal statute, often known as the Municipal Act, the Local Government Act, the Cities and Towns Act or some similar name. Municipal governments make policy, raise revenue and ensure the implementation of policy.

Municipal governments includes:
  • Police and fire protection
  • Water and sewer services
  • Recreation
  • Local public transportation
If you are interested, the Web site canada.gc.ca has more information about how Canadians govern themselves.

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