Northwestern Ontario’s municipal, provincial and federal government bodies all have an important role in servicing the people who live in our cities and towns. Government services refer to the basic services and programs that all residents receive in exchange for the taxes they pay. 

Canada and Ontario both have a democratic, parliamentary system of government. Individuals must be citizens of Canada and over 18 years of age to be eligible to vote in the Canadian elections processes, whether at the local, provincial or national level. 

The four most commonly represented political parties are: 

  • The Liberal Party
  • The New Democratic Party
  • The Conservative Party
  • The Green Party

Municipal Government:

At the local level, every city or town has a municipally elected Mayor or Reeve and a Council who are the local authority for all public issues and affairs.  The Mayor or Reeve and Council work with residents, municipal employees and other committees, agencies and Boards to operate the town and are responsible for a wide range of public services. 

Municipal services generally include community services such as parks, libraries, recreation and tourism; public works such as local road maintenance, public transit, garbage collection, sewer and water; and health and safety including policing, public health and fire protection services. Several municipalities in Northwestern Ontario also operate utility companies including hydro electricity, cable television and telephone.  Contact your city or municipality to find out about local government services. 

In Northwestern Ontario, many smaller areas are provided with basic community services by Local Service Boards (LSB) or Local Roads Boards (LRB) .  These organizations are established in areas without municipal organizations. 

For a list of Municipal websites in Ontario you can visit the Association of Municipalities in Ontario site. 

Provincial Government:

The provincial government of Ontario is responsible for issues that affect the province as a whole.  The provincial government has a parliament that is located in Toronto and the leader is known as, the Premier. Every area of Ontario, also known as a riding, votes to elect a local representative to be their community voice in provincial parliament. These representatives are known as Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) 

There are three electoral ridings in Northwestern Ontario known as: 

  • Thunder Bay – Superior North
  • Thunder Bay – Atikokan
  • Kenora – Rainy River

The Ontario Government has many ministries and agencies that provide essential services for all residents and businesses in Ontario. There are 30 Ontario government ministries that cover every area from education and the environment to community and social services. In addition, there are approximately 630 agencies to help the provincial government better service Ontario residents. The Ministry of Northern Development, Mines & Forestry as well as Northern Ontario Heritage Fund specifically deliver provincial government services and programs in Northwestern Ontario. 

ServiceOntario is an agency that delivers everyday residential and business services. These include driver’s licensing, birth, marriage and death registrations, Employment Insurance (EI), Social Insurance Numbers (SIN), and Canada Pension Plans (CPP). To find Service Ontario locations providing a range of government services in your community, please use the Service Location Finder

Federal Government:

Located in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, the federal government is responsible for issues that deal with Canada as a country. These issues include citizenship and immigration, international relations, criminal law, federal taxes, national defense, health care and foreign policy. 

The head of the government is the Prime Minister. In Canada, the federal parliament is made up of the House of Commons and the Senate. Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected by Canadian citizens, while Senators are appointed by the Governor General on the advice of the Prime Minister. 

Service Canada delivers a wide range of government programs and services to Canadians through more than 600 points of service located across the country. Services include employment, health, housing, immigration and business issues. Find Service Canada locations in your community. 

FedNor is a federal regional development organization in Ontario that has been established specifically for the North. Its focus is to promote business development and job creation in Northern and rural Ontario. FedNor has several key programs which include the Community Futures (CF) Program and the Northern Ontario Development Program. There are 24 Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) in the North that provide programs and services for community-based economic development projects. Locate a CFDC near you 

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