Understanding our government

Last reviewed: March 20, 2024

Canada is a democracy with three levels of government that are elected by Canadian citizens. Each level of government – federal, provincial and municipal – has its own specific roles and responsibilities.

The Government of Canada

The national (also known as federal) government makes laws for the entire country. It is responsible for areas of national interest such as immigration, defence and trade with other countries.

Federal elections are held every four to five years.

The Government of British Columbia

Each of Canada’s 10 provinces has its own elected government with responsibilities that include education, highways and hospitals.

In B.C., provincial elections are held every four years on the third Saturday in October.

Local governments

The government of a city, town, or village is called a municipal government. This level of government is responsible for local services, such as fire protection, city streets and recreational facilities (parks and community centres).

In B.C., local governments include municipalities, regional districts, special purpose districts and local boards and agencies.

General local elections in B.C. are held every four years on the third Saturday in October. 

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