Government In Canada


There are three levels of government in Canada:

Each level has different areas of responsibility, which can be identified based on geography and types of services.

  1. The federal government creates laws and manages programs and services that tend to affect the whole country.
  2. The provincial and territorial governments have powers to make decisions relating to areas of law that affect their province or territory directly.
  3. The municipal governments are responsible for establishing by-laws and services that are administered across the County or in a specific city, town or village.

Both the federal and provincial/territorial areas of responsibility are listed in the Constitution Act, 1867.

Each level of government is responsible for providing certain services and has the ability to raise money through specific types of taxation.

Federal Government

The federal government has the power “to make laws for the peace, order and good government of Canada” except for subjects where the provinces are given exclusive powers

System of Government

Canada is a federal state, a parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy

  • As a constitutional monarchy, Canada’s Head of State is a Sovereign (Queen or King), who reigns in accordance with the Constitution: the rule of law. Canada also elects a Prime Minister as head of Government.
  • In Canada’s parliamentary democracy, the people elect members to the House of Commons in Ottawa and to the provincial and territorial legislatures. These representatives are responsible for passing laws, approving and monitoring expenditures, and keeping the government accountable.
  • Being a federal state, Government responsibilities and functions are shared between federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Structure of Government

The Parliamentary system in Canada has three branches that work together to govern the country: the executive branch, the legislative branch and the judicial branch.

1. The executive branch (also called the Government) is the decision making branch, made up of the Monarch (our head of state, who is represented in Canada by the Governor General), the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. The members of the executive branch implement the laws.

2. The legislative branch (also known as Parliament), is the law making branch also dealing with policy and issues of the day. This branch is made up of the Monarch (our head of state, who is represented in Canada by the Governor General), the Senate, whose members are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister, and the House of Commons, whose members (Members of Parliament or MP’s) are elected by voters.

3. The judicial branch is a series of independent courts that interpret the laws passed by the other two branches.

Federal Responsibilities

Among the many exclusive powers of the federal government are:

  • Citizenship
  • Criminal Law
  • Copyright
  • Employment Insurance
  • Foreign Policy
  • Money and Banking
  • National Defence
  • Regulation of Trade and Commerce
  • The Post Office
  • The Census



Provincial Government

The Provincial government is responsible for issues that are explicitly given to them in Canada’s written constitution ¬ the Constitution Act, 1867.

Structure of Government

The structure of the provincial government is similar to the federal government in that there is both an executive branch and legislative branch that work together to govern the province.

  1. The executive branch (also called the Government) consists of the Lieutenant Governor, the Premier and Cabinet, and the civil service. The duties of this branch include proposing legislation and implementing the laws and programs of the government.
  2. The legislative branch is composed of the Lieutenant Governor and the elected legislative assembly (Members of Provincial Parliament or MPP’s). The legislative branch is responsible for law making and the elected body is expected to represent and speak on behalf of the population.

The political party that has the largest number of MPPs in the Legislative Assembly forms the government, and its leader becomes premier. The premier is the head of government in Ontario.

Provincial Responsibilities

Through the provincial legislature, the provincial government has the power to enact or amend laws and programs related to:

  • Administration of Justice
  • Education
  • Hospitals
  • Natural Resources and Environment
  • Property and Civil Rights in Ontario
  • Social Services


Municipal Government

The powers of municipal governments are determined by the provincial government. In Lambton County there is a two-tier municipal government system. The County of Lambton is a municipal corporation known as an “upper tier” municipality. Within the County boundaries there are eleven “Lower tier” municipalities, also known as “local” municipalities.


County Government

The County of Lambton is governed by County Council, which exercises both executive and legislative duties. As an executive body it initiates proposals for municipal action, makes a myriad of specific decisions and supervises the administration of the policies and programs of the municipality. As a legislative body, it makes by-laws that are the laws governing its citizens.


County Council is made up of seventeen representatives from the eleven local municipal partners. The local municipalities’ mayors, along with additional Councillor appointees, when more than one County Council seat exists for a municipality, come together to represent the entire County.

County Council elects a Warden and Deputy Warden from amongst the Councillors every two years in December of an even numbered year. The Warden chairs County Council meetings and represents the County at a wide range of functions and activities.

1. Township of Enniskillen Mayor 10. Township of Brooke Alvinston Mayor
2. Township of Dawn Euphemia Mayor 11. Village of Oil Springs Mayor
3. Town of Petrolia Mayor 12. Town of Plympton Wyoming Mayor
4. Village of Point Edward Mayor 13. Township of Warwick Mayor
5. City of Lambton Shores Mayor 14. City of Lambton Shores Deputy Mayor
6. Township of St. Clair Mayor 15. Township of St. Clair Deputy Mayor
7. City of Sarnia Mayor 16. City of Sarnia Councillor
8. City of Sarnia Councillor 17. City of Sarnia Councillor
9. City of Sarnia Councillor
County Responsibilities

The County Government is responsible for:

  • Social Services
  • Long Term Care and Senior Housing
  • Provincial Offences Administration
  • Library Services
  • Emergency Medical Services (Ambulance)
  • Social Housing
  • Community Health Protection
  • Arts and Culture (Museums and Art Gallery)
Local Government (Municipalities)

The local government or lower-tier is based in a city, town, township or village. Every 4 years eligible voters of the municipality elect a mayor and council members to lead the local government. Committees of councillors discuss budget, service and administrative issues that are then passed on to the council for debate. Citizens, business owners and community groups can present their concerns to councillors at committee meetings.

Local Municipal Responsibilities

Municipal governments in Ontario are responsible for providing many of the services within their local boundaries that you rely on daily such as:

The local municipalities are responsible for areas such as:

  • Tax Collection
  • Animal Control and By-law Enforcement
  • Fire Services
  • Garbage Collection and Recycling
  • Parks and Recreation (including Arenas)
  • Public Transit
  • Police Services
  • Municipal Drains
  • Water and Sewage
County and Local Government Responsibilities

There are a few responsibilities that are shared by both the County and Local Governments:

  • Public Works (Maintenance of Roads)
  • Planning and Building Inspection

First Nations Band Councils

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.

More Information:

Government of Canada
Government of Ontario
The Corporation of the County of Lambton (Municipal Upper Tier)
Kettle\Stoney Point