Lesson Plan: The Three Levels of Government

Audience: Grade 5 Social Studies
Length of time: Approximately 60 minutes

An introduction to the structure and components of the three levels of government, with a focus on the responsibilities of each level. Students will complete a group activity dividing up the responsibilities of the three governments, discussing overlap of responsibilities and recognizing the presence of government in their community.

Students will become familiar with the structure and responsibilities of the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.

Learning Outcomes:
Students will:
• Learn the responsibilities of Canada’s municipal, provincial and federal levels of government.
• Identify how government is present in their community

Curriculum Links:

Inquiry: Differing Perspectives on Social and Environmental Issues
• Communicate the results of their inquiries, using appropriate vocabulary (B2.6)

Understanding Context: Roles and Responsibilities of Government and Citizens
• Describe the jurisdiction of different levels of government in Canada (B3.2)
• Describe the shared responsibility of various levels of government for providing some services and for dealing with selected social and environmental issues (B3.3)

Background Information:

Canada's Three Levels of Government

Introductory Discussion (15-20 minutes)
What are some chores/responsibilities in your house?
• Examples include taking out the garbage, making the beds, doing the dishes
Who is responsible for doing these tasks/chores in your house?
• Examples include brother, sister, grandma

Similar to family homes where chores need to be divided in order for them to be completed, Canada as an entire country has many responsibilities that need to be divided so that everything is addressed.

How many levels of government are there in Canada?
What are the three levels of government in Canada?
What are some of the responsibilities of the federal government?
• Examples include international relations, immigration, criminal law, taxes
What are some of the responsibilities of the provincial government?
• Examples include education, health care, the environment, agriculture, transportation
What are some of the responsibilities of the municipal government?
• Examples include public parks, libraries, social services, public transportation
Where does each level of government meet?
• For example, the provincial government meets at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, in Toronto, which is also called Ontario’s Parliament.
Who is the leader at each level?
• For example, the leader of the provincial government is the Premier of Ontario.

Activity: Government Responsibilities (15 minutes)
Provide a copy of the information chart below to each student which they will fill out as you discuss the various components and structures of Canada’s government.

Print out the list of responsibilities below, each on a separate piece of paper
Hand out one responsibility per student, or group of  students
Write the following headings on the classroom blackboard/whiteboard:  Federal, Provincial, Municipal
Have students come up to the board and affix their responsibility under the appropriate heading.  Encourage students to discuss with each other which level of government their responsibility falls under

Group discussion (10 minutes)
Discuss overlap of responsibilities
• Provincial legislatures are limited to the powers explicitly given to them by the written Constitution, therefore, they cannot take over powers belonging to the Parliament of Canada
• Similarly, Parliament cannot takeover any power of a provincial legislature
• There are certain areas of overlap, such as agriculture and immigration, where the national law prevails
• By virtue of the Constitution Act, 1867, everything not mentioned as belonging to the provincial legislatures comes under the Parliament of Canada

Discuss how the various levels of government are present in your community and how the provincial government affects the way Ontarians live their day-to day lives
• Education – in Ontario, students go to school 5 days per week.  Is that the same all across Canada? 
• Transportation – In Ontario you must be at least 16 years old to apply for a driver’s license.

Information Chart

The Three Levels of Government in Canada


The Three Levels of Government in Canada

  Federal     Provincial   Municipal  

Where does the
government meet?


What is the name of
the leader?



What are the


Responsibilities List
Adoption Birth Certificates
Agriculture Boating Safety
Airports Canada Post
Armed Forces        Canadian Currency
Citizenship Recycling
Councillors City Parks
Civil Rights Consumer Services
Copyrights Criminal Law
Education Driver's Licences
Energy Fire Services
Fisheries Foreign Affairs
Health Care Garbage Collection
Immigration Library Services
Lottery Marriage Certificates
Road Signs Old Age Pensions
Water and
Ontario Provincial
Police (OPP)
Public Health Provincial Parks
Transportation Snow Removal
Public Transit Police Services
Tourism Royal Canadian
Mounted Police (RCMP)

Additional Activities:

  • As a class, go for a walk around the block of your school. Have students (either working alone or in groups) take photos of signs or symbols that identify various levels of government in the community. When students return to the classroom, they can present their photographs and describe which levels of government they captured in their images. See example below (photo).
  • Play the Levels of Government game.

Sample image

Answer Key

Agriculture – shared with provincial powers
Immigration – shared with provincial powers
Foreign Affairs
Criminal Law
Canadian Currency
Canada Post
Civil Rights
Boating Safety
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)
Old Age Pensions

Health Care
Road Signs
Driver’s License
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)
Provincial Parks
Marriage Certificates
Birth Certificates
Consumer Services

City Councillors
City parks
Library Services
Fire Services
Garbage Collection
Snow Removal
Public Transit
Police Services
Water and Sewage
Public Health