What do Canadian cities do?

With three levels of government in Canada it can be hard to keep track of who does what. Below is a chart of the roles of cities, provinces and the federal government.

There are some roles that belong only to the Federal government including: money and banking, international and interprovincial/territorial trade, airlines and railways, telecommunications and broadcasting, foreign affairs and international assistance, defence and veterans affairs, border security employment insurance and criminal law.

Roles and Responsibilities in Canada
Federal (F), Provincial (P), Municipal (M)
  F P M
Aboriginal peoples
Administration of justice  
Arts and culture facilities/events
Bylaw Enforcement  
Direct taxation
Economic development
Emergency medical services    
Emergency preparedness
Fire protection    
Health care *  
Hydro services  
Indirect taxation  
Municipal institutions  
Municipal licensing
(animal, building, business)
Municipal planning    
Municipal streets and roads    
Natural resources    
Parks and recreation    
Pensions/income support *
Post-secondary education, training and research  
Primary and secondary education  
Public Health
Public libraries    
Public transit    
Social assistance and social
Transportation infrastructure
Waste and recycling services    
Water and wastewater    
"our cities, our future" Addressing the fiscal imbalance in Canada's cities today, Big City Mayors' Caucus, June 2006
* provided by some municipalities

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This guide is prepared for information purposes only. Reference should always be made to the relevant legislation and regulations.

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