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General purposes of Government

  • Uphold fundamental human rights
  • Protect the public and property from internal and external threats
  • Armed forces, police, fire protection, etc.
  • Influence economic development
  • Carry out major projects that the private sector does not provide
  • Roads, sewer systems, recreation centres, etc.
  • Encourage safe working and living conditions
  • Mediate amongst diverse interests and build consensus where possible
  • Provide a wide variety of social programs that protect citizens from economic uncertainties and support those unable to fend for themselves:
    • Health care
    • Education
    • Social Services

What are the levels of Government in Canada?


In general, the federal government takes major responsibility for things that affect all Canadians. This would include national defense, foreign policy and citizenship. The Federal Legislature and many of the Federal offices, boards, bureaucracy, etc are located in the Canadian capital of Ottawa.

Federal Legislative Representatives are referred to as MP’s (Members of Parliament). The head of the government is the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is the head of the federal party that is in power.


These governments look after things like education, health and highways. (Things that would apply to a province specifically.) The provincial capital for each province is where the provincial legislature is located. Some provinces have MPP’s (Member of Provincial Parliament) or MLA’s (Member of Legislative Assembly) or MNA (Member of National Assembly). The head of the provincial government is the Premier. The Premier is an MPP that is voted to be the political leader of the provincial party that is in power.


There are no independent powers given to municipalities by the Constitution Act 1982. Whatever powers and responsibilities a Province delegates to municipalities can be changed, removed or added to at the Province’s discretion. Municipal governments vary across Canada, where each jurisdiction has different delegated:

  • Powers;
  • Responsibilities; and
  • Form and function.
  • As Municipalities are considered “Creatures of the Provinces” it makes cross country comparisons difficult. All Provincial/Territorial Governments have a Department that is responsible for Municipal Affairs.