Municipal Government Explained
We've created this area for everyone who lives, works, and plays in Ontario to understand more about municipalities in Ontario..
Because in countless ways municipal governments touch the day-to-day life of every Ontario resident. Every day.
It is important to understand how municipal governments relate to the other orders of government in Canada the provincial and federal governments.
There are three types of government:
- The Government of Canada, or the Federal Government
- The Government of Ontario, or the Provincial Government
- Municipal Government is the order of government responsible for most community affairs.
Each order of government is responsible for providing certain services and has the ability to raise money through specific types of taxation.
The 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.
Among the many exclusive powers of the federal government are:
- Criminal Law
- Employment Insurance
- Foreign Policy
- Money and Banking
- National Defence
- Regulation of Trade and Commerce
- The Post Office
- The Census
According to the Constitution Act, 1867
, everything not mentioned as belonging to the provincial governments comes under the power of the federal government.
The Provincial Government
The Provincial governments are responsible for issues that are explicitly given to them in Canada's written constitution the Constitution Act, 1867.
Through the provincial legislature, the provincial government has the power to enact or amend laws and programs related to:
- Administration of Justice
- Natural Resources and Environment
- Property and Civil Rights in Ontario
- Social Services
The province directly funds or transfers money to institutions to ensure the delivery of these important responsibilites, as well as provincial highways, culture and tourism, prisons, post-secondary education, and other services to Ontarians.
The provincial legislature also has power over all municipal institutions in the province.
The powers of municipal governments are determined by the provincial government. Municipal governments in Ontario are responsible for providing many of the services within their local boundaries that you rely on daily such as:
- Animal Control and By-law Enforcement
- Arts and Culture
- Child Care
- Economic Development
- Fire Services
- Garbage Collection and Recycling
- Electric Utilities
- Library Services
- Long Term Care and Senior Housing
- Maintenance of Local Road Network
- Parks and Recreation
- Public Transit
- Planning New Community Developments and Enhancing Existing Neighbourhoods
- Police Services
- Property Assessment
- Provincial Offences Administration
- Public Health
- Side Walks
- Snow Removal
- Social Services
- Social Housing
- Storm Sewers
- Tax Collection
- Water and Sewage
Municipal governments in Ontario spend billions each year to provide the public services that meet these important needs of Ontario residents.
Municipal governments raise most of the money for financing these services from the property taxes paid by residents and businesses in the local area. Additional funding comes from "user fees" or "non-tax revenue" from parking fines, for example, and some funding still comes from the provincial government.
Your municipal government collects property taxes from each property owner. Tenants pay a portion of their landlord's property taxes through their rent.
The taxes are calculated by multiplying the assessed value of a property by a tax rate. There are two parts to the tax rate:
- the municipal tax rate, which is set by your municipal government; and
- the education tax rate, which is set by the provincial government.
- A municipality can set different tax rates for different classes of property, and the main classes include residential, multi-residential, commercial and industrial.