Government in Canada
Why should I know how government in Canada is structured? How do the different levels of government in Canada impact me personally?
Canada has different levels of government; each with its own elected representatives and areas of responsibility.
In this lesson, students compare the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government, including leadership roles, elected officials and division of responsibilities. For each level of government, students will identify issues or areas of responsibility and explain how it affects their life. Afterwards, students reflect on why is important to know the division of responsibilities among different levels of government and their elected representatives.
By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:
- Develop an understanding about how government is organized in Canada and how political institutions affect their lives (Citizenship Education Framework – Structures);
- Distinguish between levels of government and their areas of responsibility (Concept of Thinking — Political Significance);
- Analyze how political decisions impact local, national or global communities (Concept of Thinking — Objectives and Results).
- I can describe how government is organized in Canada;
- I can explain how government affects my life;
- I can assess which level of government or elected representative I would contact regarding a social issue important to me or my community;
- I can provide several examples that demonstrate the impact of a particular government decision or service on a particular community.
CHV2O – A1, A2, B2, A1.1, A1.5, A2.3, B2.2, B2.3, B2.5
1. Review the concept of government: governments manage the land, resources and people living within their borders.
2. Ask students what they know about how government is organized in Canada. Students should write down their thoughts in the K column in the KWL chart on Activity 3.1. (What do I KNOW about government in Canada?).
3. Now ask students to write down their next set of thoughts in the W column on Activity 3.1 (What do I WANT to know about government in Canada?).
4. Review the levels of government in Canada. In column format, write the following on the board, or in an equivalent forum:
federal / provincial or territorial / municipal
5. Ask students to consider which level of government they would contact in the following scenarios:
- You and your friends would like a skate ramp added to the local park
- You think there should be more financial aid available to help youth pursue post-secondary education or skills and training programs
- The streetlight near your home is broken and needs to be replaced
- You are traveling to a foreign country and require documentation
- The hospital in your town is in need of a new X-ray machine
- You would like your community to welcome more refugees
6. Discuss the impact and relevance of government as a class. Questions to prompt discussion: Do you think government affects your life? Why or why not? If you needed to, how would you go about contacting each level of government?
1. Review the different levels of government in Canada. Use the following questions and support tools to review this information [Slide Deck 3, ‘Levels of Government’ video (2:36 min) and/or Handout 3.2].
- Canada is a representative democracy. What does this mean?
- What is the role of our elected representatives?
- What is the title given to the elected representative at each level?
- What is the title given to the leader at each level? How are they chosen?
- What are the areas of responsibility of each level of government?
2. Divide students into pairs and have them fill out the graphic organizer to compare the levels of government in Canada (Activity 3.3). Afterwards, have each pair peer edit the graphic organizer of another pair and provide relevant feedback.
3. For each level of government, ask students to identify three issues or areas of responsibility and explain how it relates to or directly affects their life (Activity 3.4). Ask students to select relevant pictures to represent the issue or area of responsibility. Students may also use pictures that they take themselves or find a current article or social media story that shows how the issue is affecting their life.
Have a brief closing discussion about the levels of government in Canada, or ask students to write a reflection on one or more of the following questions:
- Why is it important to know which level of government is responsible for what?
- Why is it valuable to know your elected representatives?
After the lesson and activities are complete, ask students to write down what they learned about government in Canada in the L column on Activity 3.1 (What did I LEARN about government in Canada?).
- Slide Deck: Government in Canada [PPT]
- Activity 3.1: Government in Canada – KWL Chart [PDF] [Word]
- Handout 3.2: Government Responsibilities [PDF]
- Activity 3.3: Levels Of Government Graphic Organizer [PDF] [Word]
- Activity 3.4: What Does Government Have To Do With Me? [PDF] [Word]