Information and links helpful to understanding the three levels of government in Canada, who's who in local government and how decisions are made.

ExpandLevels of government

The City of Toronto is your local government, also known as the municipal level of government. In Canada we also have a federal government and provincial government. Each of these levels have different responsibilities but they often work together.

Federal: Government of Canada

  • National defence and Canadian Armed Forces
  • Postal service
  • Banking
  • Employment
  • Immigration and citizenship
  • Census
  • Foreign affairs and international trade
  • Agriculture and more

Provincial: Government of Ontario

  • Health
  • Education
  • Driver and vehicle licensing
  • Energy
  • Human rights
  • Natural resources
  • Environment
  • Social services and more

Municipal: City of Toronto

  • Water treatment and sewers
  • Parks and recreation centres
  • Libraries
  • Garbage collection
  • Public transit
  • Land use planning
  • Traffic signals
  • Police and fire services
  • Paramedics
  • Homeless shelters
  • Childcare and more

ExpandHow City Council works

City Council is made up of 45 members: the mayor, who is elected city-wide, and 44 councillors who are elected in each ward across the city.

The mayor provides leadership to City Council and:

  • represents Toronto across Canada and around the world
  • works with different levels of government
  • chairs the Executive Committee
  • appoints councillors to chair the standing committees of City Council

Councillors talk to residents, businesses and community groups about City programs and services and listen to their concerns. Councillors:

  • attend City Council and committee meetings
  • sit on the boards of City agencies and corporations
  • propose changes to the decisions City Council makes
  • introduce motions to propose action or raise awareness of issues
  • hold or attend community meetings to get input from the public
  • host or get involved in community events
  • help people access City services

Standing committees make recommendations on city-wide issues, such as parks, budget, roads and bridges, garbage and recycling, housing, planning, economic development, licensing and more. Final decisions are made at City Council meetings. There is an executive committee, chaired by the mayor, as well as seven standing committees.

Community councils make recommendations on local issues such as traffic lights, tree removal, parking permits, fence bylaws, appointments to local boards, local planning and development applications and more. They can make some final decisions without going to City Council. There are four community councils and each represents an area of the city: Etobicoke York, Toronto and East York, North York and Scarborough.

ExpandAccountability officers

The City of Toronto has four accountability officers that help ensure your local government is open and transparent. Each has a different responsibility:

  • The Auditor General audits City programs and conducts fraud and waste investigations
  • The Integrity Commissioner looks into complaints about members of City Council and local boards
  • The Lobbyist Registrar manages the public disclosure of lobbying activities and regulation of lobbyists
  • The Ombudsman addresses concerns about City services and investigates complaints about administrative unfairness.

ExpandOnline resources and quick links