Canadian Government

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  • Like the United States and Australia, Canada has a federal government.
  • It is comprised of provinces and territories that are cobbled together in a fairly loose federation.
  • But please note that, in Canada, we call them provinces and territories, not states.
  • Municipalities typically provide civic services, such as:
    • water
    • sewerage services
    • electricity
    • garbage collection/disposal and recycling
    • public transportation (in larger towns and cities)
    • roads within the municipal boundaries
    • police services (in some cases)
  • Because the United Kingdom is a unitary state, newly arrived British expats can be confused by the way in which things are done in Canada. You may find it easier to think of each Canadian Province as being similar to an EU country - although citizens have the right to live and work in any of them, the governments have pooled sovereignty on various issues and passed them to Ottawa, and the remainder are all handled locally. Inter-Provincial agreements are required in order to recognize each others' public acts, and there is no general common market - the Provinces must agree, for example, in order to sell BC wine in Alberta, or to take Quebec beer across the border into New Brunswick.
  • As a newly arrived expat, here are some things that may surprise you:
    • There may be some differences between the school system in which your child studies and the school system in the neighbouring municipality.
    • When you move from one province to another, you have to exchange your driver's licence.
    • When you move provinces, you have to switch to your new province's health care insurance plan.
    • You may very well need to register with a different professional or trade organization when you relocate to a different province.
    • You may find that, in your province, there are different police services, e.g., the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP), who work for the federal government, provincial police, and municipal police.
    • In your province, you'll probably encounter national parks, provincial parks, and city parks.
    • If you give birth to a child in Canada, his/her birth certificate will be issued by the province in which he/she was born, but his/her passport will be issued by the federal government.
    • The provinces on either side of you have provincial sales tax (PST) rates that are different from your province's PST rate.
    • Speed limits (and driving laws generally) will vary by Province.