People can begin to think about the structure of government by thinking about their own environment. We all live in a community or neighbourhood, that is located in a municipality, local or regional. Each municipality is in a province or territory, spread across the country, making up Canada. Your neighbourhood is close to you and changes in it impact you very directly. The Government of Canada is larger and covers more territory but, in many ways, may be more remote, and its policies more indirect in their impacts.
Canada has three levels of government to help run our country – federal, provincial and local governments.Canada’s constitution determines the separation of powers between the federal and provincial governments. The federal government is responsible for areas that affect the country as a whole, like the military and currency, and tends to manage areas of government that are about setting rules and standards – like determining what measurement systems to use, or setting official languages.Each province has its own provincial government. Each provincial government is responsible for a number of areas that are separate from the federal government. They tend to cover areas that affect services like health care, education and social assistance. The policies reflect the cultural and social differences between provinces.The federal and provincial levels of government share some responsibilities like taxation, immigration and the environment. The constitution gives the federal and provincial governments total control over their areas of policy. The federal government can’t tell the provinces how to manage education or welfare, and the provinces can’t tell the federal government how to run the military.Municipal governments are not in Canada’s constitution – they are creations of the provincial government and so are accountable to the province that they’re in.
Canada’s federal government uses a parliamentary system with a division of powers between three branches of government (Legislative, Executive and Judicial).One makes the laws (the legislative branch), one implements them (the executive branch) and one adjudicates how the laws are applied (the judicial branch).Glossary:P.M. Office: Prime Minister’s OfficeHouse: House of Commons
The provincial government is structured much like the federal government, but its Legislative Branch has no Senate, just a single body, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.The two levels of government operate under one “Head of State”, the Queen, but are separate and have their own areas of responsibility under the British North America Act and the Constitution Act. Glossary:FederalG.G.: Governor GeneralHouse: House of CommonsComm.: CommitteesP.M.: Prime MinisterP.M.O: Prime Minister’s OfficeProvincialL.G.: Lieutenant GeneralL.A.O: Legislative Assembly of OntarioComm.: CommitteesP.O.: Premier’s Office
The Legislative Branch has an Assembly or Parliament. The Legislative Assembly is made up of different political parties and all elected Members of Provincial Parliament. At this time, there are three political parties in the legislature:Ontario Liberal PartyOntario Conservative PartyOntario New Democratic PartyThe Legislature considers proposals for new laws (bills) and it passes, changes, and repeals laws. In the Legislature, MPPs, usually opposition members, question the government during Question Period.Members of Provincial ParliamentMembers of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) are elected by the people to represent them in their electoral districts (constituencies). MPPs represent the approximate 12 million citizens in the various areas of Ontario, and address people’s opinions and concerns in the Legislative Chamber. They introduce petitions on behalf of the people in their riding and debate issues which they feel should or should not become law. They also make amendments to current or potential laws. Each member takes on an active role as your Member of Provincial Parliament.CommitteesA Legislative Committee is a group of MPPs responsible for detailed consideration of any matter that it is authorized to review. Most often the committees consider laws that have been proposed by the Legislature. A committee may hold public hearings, allowing citizens from across Ontario the opportunity to comment on, or provide evidence relating to the matter under review. The three most common ways in which individual organizations can engage in the committee process are by appearing as a committee witness; submitting written material to a committee; or attending committee hearings. Committee members are appointed by the Legislature. Usually the appointments follow the recommendations made by the House Leaders of each party. The membership of the committees is made up according to membership in the House. That means a Party with the majority of seats in the Legislature will get the majority of members on each committee and will get a majority of the Chairs of committees, but cannot use its majority on all committees to control all Chairs. House leaders work out who will Chair each committee. By tradition, the Party that gets to Chair a committee is allowed to decide which of their MPPs will be chosen as Chair. Independents can choose to be on any committee provided there is no independent already appointed to it.
The Executive Branch has several parts. It is led by a Premier in each Province and in the federal government by a Prime MinisterPremierThe premier is the head of government in a province or territory and selects the members of provincial parliament that will serve in cabinet. It is the custom in Ontario that all premiers are also MPPs.All the things MPPs want are controlled by their leaders. That puts a lot of power in a few hands. The Premier makes all the government appointments. They assign people to Cabinet posts, the best jobs. They also assign people to committee chairs, house leader roles, and other important posts that not only give profile but also extra pay. They have the right to take away those jobs as well, any time they want. So, in most situations, government MPPs are strongly inclined to do what makes the Leader happy.In opposition parties, the same is true. The Leader appoints critics for each ministry – The critics of the prominent ministries get on TV more, and play a bigger role in parliament. Committee appointments are also done by the leader and give some prominence but also, again, provide extra pay. So opposition MPPs are also strongly inclined to do what makes the leader happy.Premier’s OfficeThough power should reside with elected officials, the overwhelming power of the Premier means that the people closest to him or her have a lot of power. Usually the Premier will have a Chief of Staff or Principle Secretary, as well as Policy Advisors assigned to most ministries. These people have power that is similar to that of Ministers. If the Premier’s Policy Advisor for Energy says that an energy policy is a bad idea, it will probably be opposed by the Premier and probably won’t get through Cabinet. That means the Minister has to think twice about pushing it forward, and the people who work for the Minister will be hesitant to put as much energy into a doomed plan. CabinetThe Cabinet is a body of high-ranking members, generally from the governing party, who have been appointed by the Premier to serve as heads of government ministries.Members belonging to the Cabinet are called Cabinet ministers and they formulate and administer government policy, such as curriculum standards or environmental standards. These policies relate to the various responsibilities of the provincial government, such as education and the environment. The Cabinet meets regularly to review government policy.The Premier is the key decision maker but the Cabinet ministers are powerful people and potential future leaders, so their input means a lot. The more powerful the cabinet post, and more potential for future leadership, the more their input means. Cabinet ministers know that resources are limited though. If funding goes to one program, there is less funding left for theirs. If a piece of legislation gets prominence, theirs gets less. So, even though they are all working for the success of the government, it is a somewhat competitive environment. If Cabinet opposes an issue, it’s in big trouble. If Cabinet supports it, it will do well.MinistriesLike the federal government, the government of Ontario has departments that manage and implement the laws of the legislature. These departments or ministries are responsible for implementing the policies and programs that the provincial government decides. Each ministry has a Cabinet minister who is appointed by the Premier and responsible for leading the department. Examples of ministries include the Ministry of Education, Health and Long Term Care, Labour and Citizenship and Immigration.
The process for passing a law has several steps that have to be followed. When someone creates a “bill” or a proposed law, the main steps are the 3 “Readings” of the bill, and usually a very careful review of the law in a Committee. At first reading a bill is simply presented. The person who proposed it gets to say what it does and why it was proposed. There is no debate and the Legislature votes on whether or not to consider it at all. Second reading has debate. Usually all members of the assembly can speak once to the bill to say what they think of it, saying what they see as the good or bad points about the bill. If enough people think it has enough good points, they vote to continue working on the bill. After second reading the bill usually goes to a committee. The committee will look carefully at the bill discussing all the good and bad points and making changes to differing parts to address the concerns or ideas raised. The changed or “amended” bill comes back to the legislature and the members can look at the revised version and decide if it should be passed as a law. If they think it’s good, it passes third reading and has been approved by parliament, and after some small technical steps the bill then is a law.
Local governments were established by provinces to manage local affairs. They are not in the constitution, they are created by provincial laws and overseen by the appropriate ministries. Local governments are often referred to as municipal government, though school boards are technically not municipal governments and are governed by the Ministry of Education not the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
Using the game of Jeopardy, participants in their groups will explore the roles, responsibilities and structure of both local School Boards and City Council. Each group will be given:Cue cards with questions to the answers that will be read by the facilitatorA noise maker that they will use signal their response to each answer Answers will be displayed in a pocket chart as a game at the front of the room. The facilitator will draw numbers to select the group that will make the first choice to begin the game. The group that chooses the correct question will choose the following answer. This will repeat until all answers have been selected.When a group chooses a category and selection, the facilitator will read the answer out to the group. The group will use their cue cards to determine the correct question to the answer read out loud. When a group decides they have the correct question, they will use their noise maker to let the facilitator know they have the question. The facilitator will determine the first group to use their noisemaker and ask for their question. If they offer the correct question, they will make the next choice. If they do not, other groups will have the chance to provide the correct question. If no group offers the correct question, the last group to provide a correct question will make the next selection.Each answer that the facilitator has will include the correct question, plus additional information.
Start with the Municipalities portion of the game. After you’ve gone through the 5 answers/questions, move onto the next slides and walk through the municipal government part of the presentation.
The powers of municipal governments are determined by the provincial government. There are three different types of municipal government structures: regions, counties and single-tier municipalities. Regional Some parts of Ontario have 2 municipal governments (a local municipal and regional government that together service local municipalities).The regional level has more servicing responsibilities than a county. While there are variations from one region to another, services usually provided by regions include: arterial roads; transit; policing; sewer and water systems, waste disposal, region-wide land use planning and development, as well as health, housing and social services.The local municipalities within regions are generally responsible for local roads, fire protection, garbage collection, recreation and local land use planning needs. All municipalities in a region participate in the regional system. CountiesCounties exist only in southern Ontario. Local municipalities (cities, towns, villages, townships) within counties provide the majority of municipal services to their residents. The services provided by county governments are usually limited to arterial roads, health and social services and county land use planning. Local municipalities in counties raise taxes for their own purposes, as well as for county and school board purposes. Single-tierSingle-tier municipalities exist across Ontario. They include municipalities that are geographically located within a county but are not part of the county for the municipal purposes. (Single-tier municipalities also include those former county or regional municipalities that have recently been amalgamated). Single-tier municipalities have responsibilities for all local services to their residents.
Municipal governments in Ontario are responsible for providing many of the services within their local boundaries that you rely on daily such as:water and sewageelectric utilitiespublic transitplanning new community developments and enhancing existing neighbourhoodsmaintenance of the local road network, including snow removallibrary servicespolice servicesfire servicespublic healthchild careanimal control and by-law enforcementparks and recreationproperty assessmentarts and cultureLong-term care and senior housing economic developmentambulanceairportsprovincial offences administration tax collectionside walksstorm sewerssocial servicessocial housing garbage collection and recycling*The slide gives three examples of responsibilities as they are explained by each of their websites.
Municipal councils have a broad range of responsibilities. For this reason, councils often have a number of standing committees consisting of councillors only, or advisory committees made up of a mix of councillors and members appointed from the public. These committees carry out much of the work of council and then report back to council with recommendations. Examples of council committees include: planning, parks and recreation, public works, finance, administration, and personnel. A committee of council is subject to similar legislative requirements that council is subject to under the Municipal Act, for example, open meetings and procedures. Previously, councils generally delegated only administrative matters to committees. Now, the Municipal Act, 2001 provides for broad delegation of council’s legislative powers and duties to a committee of council.
Municipal Councils are made up of a Head of Council plus Councillors or Aldermen.Regional Councils have representation from all of the municipalities that make up the Region.*the slide shows the breakdown of two GTA regions.
Depending on your municipality, the head of council may be called a warden, chair, reeve, or mayor:Wardens lead County Councils.Mayors and Reeves lead single tier Councils like Toronto, Mississauga, Newmarket.Chairs lead Regional Councils like Peel and York.Whatever title is preferred, the role of head of council as set out by the Municipal Act, 2001 remains the same:" 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 councilTo represent the municipality at official functions.”With such responsibilities, the head of council has a prominent public profile. Nevertheless, decisions of the municipality are made by council as a whole. The head of council does not have any more power than any other member of council to make decisions on behalf of the municipality. In some cities, the Mayor has a lot of power. The mayor can hire and fire staff. They can spend money when they want to and make policy. In Toronto the Mayor has fewer powers. The mayor can hire and fire the head staff person, and appoint people to committees, but Council has to approve it. Council says “no”, the mayor’s decision can be reversed. As a result, the Mayor is really just one very prominent councillor.
The role of councillors is to represent constituents, make policy, and provide stewardship in their municipality. Often these roles will overlap. Councillors will be called on to consider and make decisions on issues that will sometimes be complex and controversial. Most of those decisions will have long-term consequences for municipalities that extend beyond each four-year term of office, and should be made in the context of long-term health and welfare of their communities. Representative Role Councillors were elected by constituents to represent their views as closely as possible when dealing with issues that come before council. However, constituents have many views and opinions, and you cannot represent all of them all of the time. Election to office requires Councillors to have a broader understanding of the issues. In practice, there is no single, correct approach to the representative role and on most issues Councillors may find that they fall somewhere between the two opposing viewpoints. Policy-Making Role Policies provide direction for running a municipality. Policy-making is another key responsibility of Councillors’. Many council decisions are routine, dealing with the ongoing administration of the municipality, but others establish general principles to help guide future decisions and actions. Those are often considered policy decisions. Some policies can be specific, such as a bylaw requiring dogs to be kept on leashes in public areas, and others can be broader and more general, such as approval of an official plan.
Option to show two videosDifferent Council operate in different ways. Some are more active and engaged, some are more remote and less political. Peel Region Council meetinghttp://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=51&sid=3122&gid=847264:00-8:22 to see how meetings start up COMMENTARY: Notice that many Councillors were absent, and that few spoke. Notice how the staff person provided a lot of direction to the Chair. This council has a somewhat administrative air, dealing with things that are a little more remote like regional roads and sewer systems, and they cover a large area. City of TorontoMarch 9, 2011 Council meetinghttp://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=16&sid=1030&gid=779423:57:20 - 4:03:44 Councillor Mihevc questions staffNotice how the council is a little more lively. There is a lot going on in the background as well as the conversation being taped. There’s a little more passion in this discussion. It’s a little closer to home. Notice how the staff are answering questions but the Councillor is leading the process, not following instructions.
CommitteesThe structure for governing a municipality is based on the committee system. At committee meetings, Councillors may hear from the public, ask questions, receive advice from staff and experts, discuss issues, and develop recommendations for Council’s approval. The composition of committees is generally determined in two ways – through a striking committee or appointments from the larger Council. These are two examples:In York Region, Council determines the appropriate number of Committees, their membership, mandates and reporting practices. Each Committee chooses from its Members a Committee Chair and a Vice-Chair to serve in those positions for the calendar year or until their successors are appointed. In the City of Toronto, a Striking Committee exists to make recommendations to Council on Council member appointments to fill the positions of the at-large members of the Executive Committee, the members of the standing committees, and members of various special committees as well on Council member appointments to fill the positions on agencies and public advisory committees; and to make recommendations to Council on the meeting schedule for City Council and Council Committees.Municipal committees can include but aren’t limited to:Budget committeeEconomic development committeeCommunity and social services committeeProperty standards committeeAudit CommitteePublic Works and infrastructure committeePublic Health committeeBoardsMany important services are administered on behalf of the City and the community through separate City agencies, boards, commissions and corporations (ABCCs) and other special purpose bodies (SPBs), each having its own relationship with City Council. Other services are administered through corporations that are partnered with the City.ABCCs range in size and scope from large corporations with a lot of authority over their own operations, such as Toronto Hydro Corporation or Toronto Community Housing, corporations of hundreds of millions of dollars to small community-based boards that rely on community involvement and volunteers to deliver programs, such as Community Centre 55.Municipal agencies, boards and commissions can include but aren’t limited to:Police services boardPublic library boardTransit commissionsBoard of healthCouncil/Committee meetingsFor the most part, Council and Committee meetings are scheduled at the beginning of the new term of Council and follow a consistent schedule, meeting monthly at the same time and location. Meeting agendas and supplementary information, such as reports and communications, are released to the public in advance – at least a week prior to meetings. Often Councils and Committees follow a “consent” agenda process. Consent agendas allow Councillors to review a very lengthy agenda and designate some items for full debate. Items that Councillors do not feel merit debate are voted on at the beginning of the meeting, have the “consent” of Councillors to proceed directly to a vote.
There are many steps in each decision making process. And each one can hit snags or get derailed so they aren’t all the same, but they tend to follow a pattern. The more you know about the process of decision making, the easier it is to participate. The better you know the steps, and the people who are responsible for them, the more input you and your community can have. Usually someone decides to make a policy, sometimes that’s a politician, who may be responding to a community, or an idea they have; sometimes it’s staff, who are trying to solve a problem they have found. Sometimes a policy is required, either because the Province imposes it or the policy already in place indicates a review or change by a certain date. The policy is usually considered and worked on by staff early in the process, to come up with a clear proposal, and to review the details. Policies are usually reviewed by the elected officials who sit on the relevant committee. They can approve, amend or reject the policy or send it back to staff for more work. If the policy doesn't get sent back to staff, the decision of the committee goes to the full Council. Council can accept the decision of the Committee, or reject it, or change it. They can also send it back and ask the committee to do more work on it.
Sample organizational chart for York Region.Staff work in different departments to manage the heavy workload. When dealing with local governments it’s important to know which department is responsible for the issue you care about.
Sample organizational chart for Toronto.
Reading Municipal ReportsIntroductionReports tend to have an introduction that provides an overview of the issue and the purpose of the report. RecommendationsReports tend to put recommendations up front. These are the action items, but what they mean may not be clear without reading some background. BackgroundMost reports add background after the recommendations. This should explain the reasons for the recommendations and why the matter is an issue of importance. If the background or discussion sections do not explain the issue, then there may be something that people are avoiding addressing. History of the issueMany reports also have a section explaining the history of the issue. This section will include references to previous reports or decisions. This may cast more light on reports that don’t seem to make sense.StructureThe reports are structured more like an email thread than a story. In a story, you start at the beginning and go forward toward a conclusion. In reports, like in emails, 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.
Staff have a lot more power in local governments. The structure of the staff system is also more coordinated in local government. In municipalities, power is more diffuse. No one clearly has control of any single policy area, like health or environment. As a result, the staff play a bigger role in decision making. Staff develop the proposals and recommendations that go to boards, councils and committees. They don’t get monitored in that role by anyone who is clearly their political boss while they do that. What they recommend is largely passed, in part because they control much of the information that is provided as well. Since staff report to Council as a whole, it’s harder for any elected official to press them to act more quickly or focus more on any given issue or policy. At each stage of decision making, the staff are a key player. Councillors depend a lot on staff and don’t have a lot of capacity to assess their advice. When policies come to committees, staff have far more information than the elected officials. When policies move forward from committees to council, staff still have a lot more information than others and can generally get the outcome they are seeking. As elected politicians change, sometimes with every election, staff are consistent and become experts on issues, the process and hold more institutional history that shapes Council decisions.In local governments, all reporting lines are clearer. Everyone reports to the Chief Administrative Officer. While there is overall accountability to Council, there is no one person on Council that can hire, fire or direct staff, only the hierarchy of Civil Service staff.
Continue the Jeopardy game with only the School Boards portion of the game. After you’ve gone through the 5 answers/questions, move on to the next slides and walk through the school boards part of the presentation.
The Ontario Government and the Education Act Education is a provincial government responsibility in Canada. In Ontario, education is organized mostly according to the Education Act and its regulations. The Education Act and its regulations set out duties and responsibilities of the Minister of Education and the duties and responsibilities of school boards, school board supervisory officers, principals, teachers, parents and students. The Minister and Ministry of EducationThe Minister of Education leads the Ministry of Education, represents the interests of the Ministry at the provincial cabinet and manages the development of education policy. With the assistance of the Ministry of Education, the Minister also administers the laws and regulations that govern education. The Minister allocates funds to school boards in a fair manner using the education funding model. The Minister and the Ministry are also responsible for:developing curriculum;setting policies and guidelines for school trustees, directors of education, principals and other school board officials;setting requirements for student diplomas and certificates; andpreparing lists of approved textbooks and other learning materials.Ontario’s School BoardsOntario's school boards operate the province's publicly-funded schools. The boards administer the funding they receive from the province for their schools and implement education policy set by the Ministry.Ontario's 72 District School Boards are made up of 31 English-language public boards, 29 English-language Catholic boards, 4 French-language public boards, and 8 French-language Catholic boards. As well, a small number of Ontario schools are operated by School Authorities. The School Authorities manage special types of schools, such as schools in hospitals and treatment facilities, and schools in remote and sparsely-populated regions.
Under the Education Act, a school board has obligations that it must fulfil (called prescriptive duties) and functions that it may do (called permissive duties). Ministry regulations and laws make school boards responsible for:determining the number, size and location of schools; building, equipping and furnishing schools;providing education programs that meet the needs of the school community, including needs for special education;management of the funds allocated by the province to support all board activities, including education programs for elementary and secondary school students, and the building and maintaining of schools;preparing an annual budget;supervising the operation of schools and their teaching programs;developing policy for safe arrival programs for elementary schools;establishing a school council at each school;hiring teachers and other staff;helping teachers improve their teaching practices;assessing teacher performance;approving textbook and learning material choices, based on the list of approved materials provided by the Ministry of Education;enforcing the student attendance provisions of the Education Act; andensuring schools abide by the Education Act and its regulations.[Failure of a school board to perform any prescriptive duties may result in that board’s liability to third parties who are in some way damaged by the board’s act or omission. Failure to perform permissive duties does not result in any liability.]
School Board Trustees are locally elected representatives of the public and they are the community’s advocate for public education. A Trustee’s job is to 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. Among the many, often sensitive issues Trustees deal with are budgets and finance issues, property issues, suspensions and expulsions of students and communications with the community. Trustees are responsible for establishing policy direction. Policies set out the expectations about how services are to be provided within the School Board. However, Trustees are not responsible for implementing a board’s policies – that is the job of the administration and board staff.As members of the board, Trustees are accountable to the province through the Ministry of Education, for the proper conduct of their duties and powers, including the implementation of provincial policy and the use of provincially allocated funds. They are accountable to their electorate through the local elections process. Trustees are accountable for:Promoting a high quality public education systemAdvocating for improved student achievementEnsuring equitable programming and efficient delivery of educationFocusing on accountability to ensure resultsDetermining critical priorities and focusing energies and resourcesWorking collaboratively with administration to support changes required to reach higher levels of performance from staff and studentsResponding to local needs and prioritiesEnhancing the level of accountability to the public on educational issuesRepresenting the communityProviding a communication link between community and school boardBuilding collaborative relationships with political and business leadersForging links with education partners, agencies and municipal councilsEstablishing board policies and budgetsMonitoring implementation of policies and budgetHelping to create a vision and structure for the school systemImproving local board performanceTrustees are, by law, paid very little and as a result generally need another job to make ends meet. That means they have a limited amount of time to review materials, conduct any independent research or discuss issues. As a result they are very dependent on staff for information and advice. Trustees tend to accept staff recommendations unless there is strong and widespread public pressure to do the opposite. Trustees have difficulty keeping up with the demands from their constituents in the limited time they have available, so lobbying trustees can be demanding and time consuming. Some have difficulty returning phone calls and email in a timely way so expect some real lag time in reaching out to them. Since taking on a new issue will be time consuming and will likely bring them into conflict with the Board staff they depend on, Trustees may be reticent to take on an issue, and will need a compelling reason to add it to their priorities.
Student trustees are an important and valuable voice in representing the interests of the student body at meetings of the board. Students Trustees are elected by students, with each school board hosting their meetings differently. They are not members of the board and are not entitled to exercise a binding vote on any matter before the board. However, they are entitled to request a recorded non-binding vote in order to have their opinion officially reflected in the board minutes. They also have the same opportunities for participation at meetings of the board and the same access to board resources and opportunities for training as members of the board.
The director of education is the chief executive officer and chief education officer (CEO) of the school board. The director is the sole employee who reports directly to the board and acts as secretary to the board. Through the director of education, a board holds all of its schools accountable for results based on expectations set at the provincial and board levels. Directors are responsible for: advising the board on operational matters; implementing board policies; managing all facets of school board operations; ensuring a multi-year plan establishes the board’s priorities and identifies the resources that will be used to achieve them; implementing, and monitoring the implementation of, the multi-year plan, reporting on this to the board, as well as reviewing it annually with the board; bringing to the board’s attention any act or omission by the board that could violate or has violated the Education Act or any of its policies, guidelines or regulations. If the board doesn’t fix the problem, the Director is required to report it to the Deputy Minister of Education. All school board staff report to the director of education. The director of education reports to the board, usually through the chair or his or her delegate. As well, the director serves as the secretary of the board. As head of the staff, the Director shares with Board staff a tendency to want to make the system run smoothly and a reticence to make big or sudden changes. The Director is accountable to the Board, who hires and fires the Director and reviews the Director’s performance. But the Director is also, by law, accountable to the Minister of Education. Serving two bosses means the Director needs to be careful when looking at any issue to ensure that it meets the objectives of the Trustees, but at the same time won’t create a problem with the province. Again, big changes create more risks here. The Director manages all staff, from whom the Trustees get most of their advice and information, so the Director will have a significant influence on the Board. The Director also allocates resources and manages staffing issues, so Trustees who need something to happen in their constituency depend on the Director to solve those problems.
Superintendents are accountable to the Director of Education for the implementation, operation, and supervision of educational programs in their schools. Boards must notify the Minister in writing when a supervisory officer is appointed. Supervisory officers lead and supervise schools and programs, working with principals and staff to ensure that schools operate according to ministry and board policy, and ensuring that performance appraisals are conducted. Supervisory officers are responsible for ensuring that school buildings are maintained according to ministry and board policy. They must also report to the medical officer of health any case in which a school building or school property is found to be unsanitary. As supervisory officers of the Board, superintendents hold the schools accountable for student achievement. Reports to the Board related to the responsibilities of the superintendent are provided through the director of education.
School Councils advise principals, and where appropriate, the School Board on issues affecting the education programs and the operation of individual schools. Their membership reflects both the school and the community, and must include:parents and guardians of students, (Parents and guardians must make up the majority of council members)the principal, a teacher, a student representative (secondary school councils), a non-teaching school staff member, members from the community at large. School Councils may advise the principal or the School Board on:school year calendars;codes of student behaviour;curriculum priorities;programs and strategies to improve school performance on provincial and School Boards tests;safe arrival programs (elementary schools);communications to parents and communications to the community;community use of the school, and community programs and services provided at the school through school-community partnerships;school board policies that will affect the school; andselection of principals.
The Education Act permits boards to establish committees of board members to deal with the broad areas of “education, finance, personnel and property”. Boards may also establish other committees and sub-committees that include non-trustees. Committees that have members who are not trustees cannot deal with matters in the areas of education, finance, personnel, or property. There are three kinds 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. Although a standing committee is composed of trustees – and only trustee members can vote - a staff person is also assigned as a resource person to provide expertise, fulfill administrative requirements, and provide necessary information. 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. Non-trustee members might include teachers, students, community or local business people and, in the case of Catholic boards, members of the clergy. Many boards now turn to advisory committees as part of their consultation process. Committees help the Board get the necessary information to make decisions. They can do fact finding, involve members of the community, and hear delegations from the public. Committee meetings generally follow the same procedure adopted by the Board, and follow the terms of reference set by the Board. The chair of the committee and the director of education or their designates must be physically present at every committee meeting. Committees are required to record the minutes of their meetings, and to report and make recommendations to the Board. Only the Board itself, however, has the legal authority to make decisions binding on the school system. Trustees are appointed to committees by the Board, usually once a year, and are expected to attend all Board meeting and all meetings of Board committee of which they are members. Trustees who miss three consecutive meetings (without authorization) vacate their seat on the Board.
Sample organizational chart for the Dufferin Peel Catholic School Board.Because School boards are large and complicated organizations, they are divided up into many departments, as well as different areas. It’s important to know who is responsible for the issue affecting your community so you speak to the right person. It’s easy to get “lost in the bureaucracy” but the staff are public servants and should be able to direct you to the right department.
Sample organizational chart for the Toronto District School Board
Finish the Jeopardy game with the Mash-up portion of the game. This will include both municipalities and school Board questions/answers.
Read through the handout with the relevant websites and descriptions of what information participants will find on each to the entire group.If possible, show the relevant websites to participants on a projector.Group Exercise OptionEach group will be asked to pick one Councillor and one School Trustee that represent two different communities in their groups. Using government websites, ask groups to develop a short profile of the Councillor and School Trusted selected, plus their Wards. Ask participants to report back to the larger group on the following questions:Councillor/Trustee selectedWhat wards do they represent and what are their boundaries? Does the Councillor/School Trustee sit on any Committees? Which ones and what are they responsible for?Is the Councillor/School Trustee’s portfolio relevant to your issue? If yes, how? Ask for a group to volunteer to be the first group to provide a quick overview of what they found about either their Trustee or Councillor. Please make sure that every group has a chance to report back.Group Exercise #2Use the website to find information on one service and to find one piece of information, including a press release or report, on one issue.Large Group OptionIf you do not have enough time to do group work, choose a municipality and school board in advance and walk participants through the websites, highlighting the same areas in the group work. Also highlight the access to service information and updates on key issues through press releases and other notices on the site.
Municipalities go through a process every year that determines the following year’s budget – what each department, division and Council will spend as a government. Unlike other levels of government, municipalities MUST balance their budgets every year.Staff manage the budget process as set out by Council, including timelines, reporting and public consultations. It is a detailed process and staff continuously consult with the budget committee or Councils. Each municipality has a different budget process, but there are some basic commonalities amongst them all. In some municipalities, initial budget committee or Council (depending on size of the municipality) 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, with final decisions being made at the end of the calendar year. Regardless of timing, the budget process is a long process that involves a lot of discussion and negotiation amongst staff and politicians. Staff develop a budget report (and in many cases presentation) to provide context for the budget discussions to follow. These reports will include information on the previous year’s activities and financial statements including departmental expenses, plus projections for the upcoming year. But it is politicians in the end that are accountable to residents/voters and determine the priorities in the budget.
There are two types of budgets: Capital and Operating.Capital Budgets Like a mortgage or car paymentsThese 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 Budget Like your food budgetThe 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.
Notice that the staff have worked on the budget for a long time before it goes to the politicians and a very long time before it goes to the community. Input before the public process is important. There is also a lot of planning involved and many estimates and assumptions, like how much will be raised in taxes and how much things will cost. These estimates have to be made very early to get the budget ready in time.
Municipalities use a variety of methods to engage residents in the budget process. One thing they all do is allow for residents to provide feedback through deputations to the budget committee (or Council) and to send in correspondence by email or post. In order to participate in these consultations, residents must register with municipal staff. Other activities municipalities may use include:City/Town-wide public meetingsRegional public meetingsOnline surveys Councillor-led public meetingsPublic open house
REGISTRATIONDon’t forget to register:Every committee, regardless of level of government, requires that people interested in making a deputation register ahead of time. Contact the clerk well in advance of the meeting to register yourself for a deputation. Municipal Committees traditionally close registration the day before the committee meeting, but some committees may close registration sooner. Provincial and Federal Committees almost always register deputants several weeks or months in advance. Registering early also means that you’ll be closer to the top of the list to depute and should give you a better idea of when you’ll deputation will be.Ask questionsEvery committee has a clerk assigned to it to handle registrations and to answer any questions you may have. If you’re unsure about the process or what to expect, ask the clerk when you’re registering. They will be able to tell you how much time you have to depute, how many people have already registered to depute and what to expect. AUDIENCEFind out who’s on the CommitteeTake a moment and find out who sits on the committee that you will be making a deputation to. Go to the committee’s website to find the names of the members. This will help you craft your message and give you a context for what to potentially expect.Find the hookShow how your issue links to the issues they already care about. To understand what a politician cares about look at their track record. What do they mention in media? What do they spend their time on? If your issue affects those issues, then you have something in common with the politician and something that is easy for you to talk about.MESSAGESBe FamiliarMost politicians care more about their own constituencies and their own neighbourhood, rather than what’s happening in other places. Their first duty is to their local constituents, and it’s what they know best. Politicians will be most influenced by the things they know best: places they’ve visited, people they’ve worked with. Letting them see the work you do is worth a lot, that makes it possible for them to visualize your issueHeart over headYou need to have good arguments, but beware of adding too much complexity to your argument and making it harder to deliver. Try to make sure your message is one the hits home, more than one that covers every base. Politicians won’t always give credit to the people you think of as “experts”. If you know someone’s an expert but the politicians haven’t heard of them, or the organization they represent, they probably won’t add credibility to your argument.Facts don’t mean as much as examples. Everyone can choose statistics that make their case seem strong. Politicians are used to hearing flashy numbers and data. But it’s hard to discount the person stories of individuals who have benefited from a program or suffered from its lack. One story that shows a politician the problem is worth 10 detailed statistical profiles. DEPUTATION DELIVERYStick to your timeFind out how long you will have to make your deputation. Most committees allocate 5 minutes for each deputation but sometimes committees will reduce the allocated time because of a large deputants list. Each deputation will have a specified time, regardless of how many people depute – i.e. if you register yourself and another person to depute together, you will have 5 minutes combined to present. You are usually free to split the 5 minutes however you’d like.Practice your deputation often to make sure that you stay within your 5 minutesKnow your materialRemember to be yourself. Introduce yourself and your particular group or community that you’re representing (if applicable).If you’re not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. If you need to use written notes, it’s more effective not to read from them, but to just refer to them. QUESTION/ANSWERAnswering questionsBe prepared to answer questions. Try to anticipate what questions members may ask you in advance, and come up with your answers ahead of time. Answer members’ questions as best as you can but don’t feel you need to answer everything they ask you. If you feel put on the spot or don’t know the answer, offer to follow up with them after the meeting.In provincial and federal committees, the 5 minutes that you are given for your deputation has traditionally included time for questions from committee members. In many cases, if you use your 5 minutes then no time will be left for questions from committee members. This isn’t always the case though, so always be prepared for questions to avoid an uncomfortable situation for yourself.
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.
Elections can be won or lost by people changing their minds. Politicians try to keep an eye on who is likely to change their minds in the next election – they call these changing votes “swing votes”, and they tend to group them together by demographics or geography – are older or younger voters a “swing” vote, are immigrants a “swing” vote, are people who live near the highway a swing vote? Politicians will look at who has changed their minds in the past or who has a reason to change their minds this time, and pay attention to how those votes might change. Some people are always swing voters. They have gone back and forth between candidates every election for a long time.Others become swing votes over an issue. If senior citizens like a candidate one year but don’t like that candidate as much by the time the next election comes, because they don’t feel like they concerns were addressed, they may vote a different way. Politicians will work to appeal to those swing votes. If the highway was expanded and became noisier, people by the highway may become a swing vote. If baffles were put up to block out the noise, they might not be so upset about that issue and may go back to their old voting patterns.Politicians know which votes they need, and which communities are “swing votes”. Issues that affect those groups get a lot of attention – so link your issue to their issue.
Municipal elections determine the city’s mayor and councillors. According to the Municipal Elections Act in Ontario: A person is entitled to be an elector at an election held in a local municipality if, on voting day, he or she,(a) resides in the local municipality or is the owner or tenant of land there, or the spouse of such owner or tenant;(b) is a Canadian citizen;(c) is at least 18 years old; and(d) is not prohibited from voting under subsection (3) or otherwise by law.Municipal elections in Ontario are in November. To be able to vote, your name must be on the list of eligible voters. If you are on the voters list, you should receive a card in late October telling you that you are eligible to vote. If they are eligible to vote, but have not received a card by the end of October in an election year, voters can call the municipality to find out what to do in order to vote. Municipalities often publish this kind of information in the local newspaper. The way councillors are elected differs from municipality to municipality. Municipal councillors may be elected at large or by ward.In a municipality where the councillors are elected at large, all councillors represent the entire municipality. In an election, the voters choose among all candidates who are running in the election. If municipal council has 8 councillor positions, for example, each voter gets 8 votes and the 8 candidates with the highest number of votes win the election and become the new councillors. Other municipalities are divided into wards. Depending on the municipality, each ward may have one, two or more representatives on council. Voters in each ward can choose only among the candidates who are running for election in that ward. For example, if a municipality has 8 council members and 4 wards, 2 councillors will be elected from each ward. Each voter chooses 2 candidates from among the candidates running in that ward. In each ward, the two candidates with the highest number of votes will serve on municipal council. In municipalities with 1 elected representative for each ward, each voter gets 1 vote for Councillor.The head of council is always elected at large by all of the voters in the municipality. Regional CouncilsThe head of a regional council is called a Regional Chair. The Chair is usually chosen by a vote of the members of Regional Council (though some Chairs outside the GTA are directly elected). The Chair for the Region of Peel serves a three-year term, while the York Region Chair serves a four-year term, consistent with the electoral cycle.