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How Government Works


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The “How Government Works” toolkit is for organizations and activists looking for practical tools to understand decision-making and share that knowledge with others in their communities.

Published in: Government & Nonprofit
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How Government Works

  1. 1. How Government Works Cities, Regions and School Boards
  2. 2. You Are Here Neighbourhood City Region Ontario Canada
  3. 3. Levels of Government
  4. 4. Queen FEDERAL Governor General House Legislature Senate Ministries Committees Committees Prime Minister P.M. Office Cabinet Executive JUDICIAL Supreme Levels of Government - Federal Federal
  5. 5. Queen FEDERAL G.G. House Legislature Senate Ministries Comm. Comm. P.M. P.M.O Cabinet Executive PROVINCIAL L.G. Legislature L.A.O Ministries Comm. Premier P.O Cabinet Executive JUDICIAL Supreme Federal Provincial Municipal Levels of Government
  6. 6. PROVINCIAL L.G. Legislature L.A.O Ministries Comm. Premier P.O Cabinet Executive Legislative Assembly • Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) • Committees Provincial Government
  7. 7. PROVINCIAL L.G. Legislature L.A.O Ministries Comm. Premier P.O Cabinet Executive Executive • Premier • Premier’s Office • Cabinet • Ministries Provincial Government
  8. 8. How a Bill Becomes a Law Here’s how this idea could work…or not.
  9. 9. Provincial Ministries Education Municipal Affairs Municipalities School Boards Local Governments
  10. 10. Municipal Councils
  11. 11. Municipalities School Boards Mash-Up! 100 100 100 200 200 200 300 300 300 400 400 400 500 500 500 Municipal Jeopardy!
  12. 12. Municipalities School Boards Mash-Up! 100 100 100 200 200 200 300 300 300 400 400 400 500 500 500 Municipal Jeopardy!
  13. 13. SINGLE TIER GOVERNMENT REGIONAL GOVERNMENTS The powers of municipal governments are determined by the provincial government. 3 Types of Municipal Councils • Regional • Counties • Single Tier Municipal Councils
  14. 14. City of Brampton Animal control Provincial offences administration Arts and culture Parks and recreation By-law enforcement Public transit Economic development Local roads Fire services Tax collection Planning new community developments and enhancing existing neighbourhoods Snow removal, road and sidewalk maintenance Region of Peel Housing services Waste collection, recycling Police, ambulance services Waste water collection, treatment Public health Water treatment, supply Social services Regional roads City of Toronto Administration of justice Hydro services Immigration Municipal planning Economic development Public health By-law Enforcement Industry Public libraries Direct taxation Municipal institutions Public transit Primary, secondary education Municipal licensing (animal, building, business) Social assistance and social services Emergency medical services Arts and culture facilities, events Transportation infrastructure Emergency preparedness Municipal streets and roads Waste, recycling services Environment Parking Water and wastewater Fire protection Parks and recreation Policing Health care Pensions, income support Housing Municipal Responsibilities
  15. 15. It is the role of Council, • to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality • to develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality • to determine which services the municipality provides • to ensure that administrative policies, practices and procedures are in place to implement the decisions of council • to ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality, including the activities of the senior management of the municipality • to maintain the financial integrity of the municipality and • to carry out the duties assigned to it by law. Role of Municipal Council It is the role of Council,
  16. 16. Peel Regional Council • Regional Chair • Mayors of Caledon, Brampton, Mississauga • 11 City of Mississauga Council members • 6 City of Brampton Council members • 4 Town of Caledon Council members York Regional Council • Regional Chair and CEO • Mayors of Aurora, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, King, Markham, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, Whitchurch- Stouffville • 1 Georgina Regional Council member • 4 Markham Regional Council members • 1 Newmarket Regional Council member • 2 Richmond Hill Regional Council members • 3 Vaughan Regional Council members Municipal Councils are made up of a Head of Council plus Councillors or Aldermen. Who’s on Council?
  17. 17. The Head of Council may be called a Warden, Chair, Reeve or Mayor. It is the role of the Head of Council, • To act as the municipality’s chief executive officer • To preside over council meetings (though in Toronto, a “speaker” is named) • To provide the council with leadership and information and recommendations to the council • To represent the municipality at official functions Head of Council Who’s on Council? It is the role of the Head of Council,
  18. 18. Councillors have a representative, policy-making and stewardship role in each municipality. Councillors Representative Role • Councillors are elected by constituents to represent their views when dealing with issues at Council. Policy-Making Role • Councillors are expected to provide direction for municipal policies, including administration and guidance for future decisions. Who’s on Council?
  19. 19. Sample Council Meetings
  20. 20. Committees can include but aren’t limited to: • Budget committee • Economic development committee • Community and social services committee • Property standards committee • Audit committee • Public works and infrastructure committee • Public Health committee Agencies, boards and commissions can include but aren’t limited to: • Police services board • Public library board • Transit commissions (i.e. TTC) • Boards of health Agencies, Boards & Committees
  21. 21. How Decisions Get Made
  22. 22. York Region Organizational Chart
  23. 23. City of Brampton Organizational Chart
  24. 24. City of Toronto Organizational Chart
  25. 25. • History of the issue This section will include references to previous reports or decisions. • Structure In reports the most recent information – usually the recommended conclusion is up front but the background discussion that makes it all make sense follows, in reverse chronological order. • Introduction This section provides an overview of the issue and the purpose of the report. • Recommendations Reports tend to put recommendations up front. • Background This should explain the reasons for the recommendations and why the matter is an issue of importance. Reading Municipal Reports
  26. 26. • Staff have a lot more power in local governments and play a bigger role in decision making. • Develop proposals and recommendations • Support for Mayor and Councillors • Staff outlast elected politicians Role of Staff
  27. 27. School Boards
  28. 28. Municipal Jeopardy! Municipalities School Boards Mash-Up! 100 100 100 200 200 200 300 300 300 400 400 400 500 500 500
  29. 29. School Boards • Education is a provincial government responsibility led by the Minister and Ministry of Education. • Ontario's school boards operate the province's publicly- funded schools and administer the funding they receive for their schools.
  30. 30. Role of School Boards Prescriptive Duties (what they must do) Permissive Duties (what they can do) Operating schools according to provincial legislation and regulation Offer pupil transportation Have a vision statement that reflects the board’s philosophy and local needs and priorities Offer school libraries and resource centres Setting the board’s budget within the provincial grants and accompanying regulations Operate school property as a playground, park or public skating facility Implementing curriculum according to ministry curriculum policy Offer qualified guidance teachers Developing and delivering other programs that reflect provincial policies and local priorities Offer continuing education and evening classes Hiring teachers and other staff required in their schools Operate cafeterias Maintaining school buildings and property with regard to student safety and in accordance with provincial legislation Offer professional development courses for teachers Monitoring their policies and the achievement of their students and, through the director of education, holding the entire system accountable for meeting provincial and board standard Offer programming in detention homes Operate child care facilities and day nurseries Offer benefits and insurance for its employees Offer insurance for pupils
  31. 31. Who’s part of a School Board? School Trustees • School Board Trustees are locally elected representatives of the public and they are the community’s advocate for public education • participate in making decisions that benefit the whole board while representing the interests of his or her constituents, and also to • communicate the views and decisions of the school board back to the constituents • identify the needs and priorities of their community and turn them into practical educational opportunities for students. A Trustee’s job is to:
  32. 32. Who’s part of a School Board? Student Trustees • Student Trustees are elected by students and represent the interests of the student body at meetings of the Board • Fully participate in meetings and have access to Board resources and opportunities • Not members of the Board and are not entitled to vote • Can have their voices reflected in meeting minutes
  33. 33. Who’s part of a School Board? • Advising the Board on operational matters • Implementing Board policies • Managing all areas of Board operations • Developing, implementing, monitoring, finding resources for and reporting to the Board on a multi-year plan; • Bringing to the Board’s attention any Board violations of the Education Act or any of its policies, guidelines or regulations. Directors of Education • The Director of Education is the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Education Officer of the Board. • All School Board staff report either directly or indirectly to the Director of Education. Directors are responsible for:
  34. 34. Who’s part of a School Board? Superintendents (supervisory officers) • Superintendents are accountable to the Director of Education for the implementation, operation, and supervision of educational programs in their schools. • Leading and supervising schools and programs • Ensuring that performance appraisals are conducted. • Working with principals and staff to ensure that schools operate according to Ministry and Board policy • Holding schools accountable for student achievement Superintendents are responsible for:
  35. 35. Who’s part of a School Board? School Councils • School Councils advise principals on issues affecting the education programs and operation of individual schools. • Leading and supervising schools and programs • Codes of student behaviour • Curriculum priorities • Programs/strategies to improve school performance on provincial and School Boards tests • Communications with parents • Community use of schools • Parents/guardians of students • the principal • A teacher • A student representative • A non-teaching school staff • Members from the community at large School Council memberships include: School Councils may advise on:
  36. 36. Types of Board committees: • Standing or permanent committees generally deal with ongoing or recurring matters, such as those specified in the legislation, and are an integral part of the Board structure. • Ad hoc committees, like task forces or work groups, investigate a specific issue and report to the Board within a stated time frame. • Advisory committees, established on either a short- or long-term basis, provide input into policy development or other areas where the Board would benefit from the experience and expertise of other participants. Board Committees
  37. 37. Municipal Jeopardy! Municipalities School Boards Mash-Up! 100 100 100 200 200 200 300 300 300 400 400 400 500 500 500
  38. 38. The Regional Municipality of York York Region Town of Aurora Town of East Gwillimbury Town of Georgina Township of King Town of Markham Town of Newmarket Town of Richmond Hill City of Vaughan Town of Whitchurch- Stouffville York Region District School Board York Catholic District School Board The Regional Municipality of Peel Region of Peel City of Brampton Town of Caledon City of Mississauga Peel District School Board Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board City of Toronto City of Toronto Toronto District School Board Toronto Catholic District School Board Municipal Websites
  39. 39. Municipal Budgets
  40. 40. • Municipalities go through a process every year that determines the following year’s budget – what each department, division and Council will spend • Unlike other levels of government, municipalities MUST balance their budgets every year • Each municipality has a different budget process • In some municipalities, initial budget discussions begin in the late fall with public consultations beginning early in the new year • In other municipalities, the budget process starts much earlier, in the spring Municipal Budgets
  41. 41. Capital Budgets • Like a mortgage or car payments • These are debts but they are balanced by things you own that are worth something. You can spend more than you have but need to make payments regularly, and you need enough income to cover the payments. Operating Budgets • Like your food budget • The operating budget pays for things that you use up and don’t have afterward. If you spend more than you have, you run into deficit and eventually go broke. Municipal Budgets
  42. 42. Mississauga’s Budget Process
  43. 43. Municipalities use a variety of methods to engage residents in the budget process. Activities municipalities may use include: • Budget committee deputations, email and mail correspondence • City/Town-wide public meetings • Regional public meetings • Online surveys • Councillor-led public meetings • Public open house Municipal Budget Consultations
  44. 44. Making a Deputation
  45. 45. Making a deputation
  46. 46. Municipal Elections
  47. 47. Elections • Elections affect how politicians think about their jobs • Politicians have to get elected every 4 years • What they need to win colours what they feel they need to do while in office
  48. 48. • They know which votes they need, which communities are “swing votes” • They will work to appeal to those swing votes • Issues that affect those groups get a lot of attention – so link your issue to their issue Elections
  49. 49. Municipal elections happen once every 4 years A person is entitled to vote in a municipal election if she or he is: • 18 years of age or older • a Canadian citizen; and • either a resident of the municipality or a property owner or tenant or the spouse or same sex partner of an owner or tenant in the municipality during a specified time just before the election On election day, voters elect representatives for their own Ward including: • 1 Councillor • 1 Mayor • 1 School Board Trustee Municipal Elections
  50. 50. Exercise Your issue is schools • How do you get the attention of the elected official? Your issue is transit • How do you get the attention of the elected official? Swing votes are seniors, newcomers
  51. 51. How Government Works Cities, Regions and School Boards