The Three Levels of Government

Canada has three main levels of government.

1. The federal level (from the Latin foedus, meaning league).

This level of government deals with areas of law listed in the Constitution Act, 1867 and that generally affect the whole country.

2. The provincial level (from the Latin provincia, meaning under Roman rule: from pro, to be in favour of something, and vincere, to conquer) and the territorial level (from the Latin terra, meaning land).

In each of the 10 provinces in Canada, the provincial government is responsible for areas listed in the Constitution Act, 1867, such as education, health care, some natural resources, and road regulations. Sometimes they share responsibility with the federal government. The three territories have their own governments, with responsibilities that are given to them by the federal government.

3. The municipal level (from the Latin municipalis, meaning of a citizen of a free town).

This is the level of government that is usually based in a city, town or district (a municipality). Municipal governments are responsible for areas such as libraries, parks, community water systems, local police, roadways and parking. They receive authority for these areas from the provincial governments.

Across the country there are also band councils, which govern First Nations communities. These elected councils are similar to municipal councils and make decisions that affect their local communities.