Canada is a great big country. In fact, it is the second largest country in the world by size (true fact!). However, it is only the 35th largest country by population. Canadians live relatively far away from each other compared to most other nations. This makes governing tricky business.

Why have provinces at all?

Since Canada is so big, there are some pretty big differences in the various regions of Canada. Saskatchewan and Manitoba are more concerned with agriculture policy than fishing policy, which is a major concern in Newfoundland and Labrador. The different regions have different needs and thus need different local laws.

What are the similarities and differences?

Besides what areas of government they get to legislate on, there are very few differences between how the provincial and federal governments operate. Both levels of government require laws to come to their legislatures (the body of elected politicians that create laws) and go through a specific process of voting and study before they become statute (an official law).

The provincial governments are known as unicameral. This means that it only has one body of politicians who are elected by registered voters in a certain area of the province known as a riding to represent them in the provincial legislature.

However, the federal government has a bicameral legislature. This means that it has two houses of Parliament. The lower house is known as the House of Commons and its members are known as Member of Parliament, who are voted to represent a specific area in Canada. The upper house is known as the Senate and its members, known as Senators, are appointed by the Governor-General upon recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Who gets decided to do what?

Having two different levels of government can be confusing. Who gets to make the laws on health-care? Or natural resources? Or on criminal legislation?

In summary, the federal government legislates in areas of national importance, such as:

  • National postal service
  • National defence
  • Criminal law

While the provincial governments legislate in areas of more local significance, such as:

  • Health care
  • Highways
  • Public education


What does this mean to pro-lifers?

One of the most frustrating things to hear from provincial politicians is that any policy that affects abortion is federal jurisdiction. This is simply incorrect. Since abortion is carried out in publicly-funded hospitals across Canada, it is actually under provincial jurisdiction as per Section 92 of the Constitution Act.

Any legislation on the regulation of abortion such as parental consent, waiting periods, or full disclosure must come from provincial legislatures. In fact, there is very little that the federal government can do in regards to abortion, besides to criminalize it in the Criminal Code or restrict it at various stages.

As pro-lifers, it is important to be involved in both federal and provincial politics. There are many things we can do pass live-saving legislation immediately in our home provinces. And we are more than ready to help you elect pro-life provincial politicians to pass some key pieces of pro-life legislation in the future!

** to see pieces of pro-life legislation we propose to pro-life politicians, check out our “pro-life bills” page here. 

Added Bonus!

While each province has a unicameral legislature, they go by different names and the politicians elected to each provincial legislature have different titles. To help you out, we have provided the following guide to navigate through it all:


Name of legislature

Politician title



Legislative Assembly of Alberta

Member of the Legislative Assembly


British Columbia

Legislative Assembly of British Columbia

Member of the Legislative Assembly



Legislative Assembly of Manitoba

Member of the Legislative Assembly


New Brunswick

Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick

Member of the Legislative Assembly


Newfoundland and Labrador

House of Assembly of Newfoundland and Labrador

Member of the House of Assembly


Nova Scotia

House of Assembly of Nova Scotia

Member of the Legislative Assembly



Legislative Assembly of Ontario

Member of Provincial Parliament


Prince Edward Island

Legislative Assembly of Prince Edward Island

Member of the Legislative Assembly



National Assembly of Quebec

Member of the National Assembly



Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan

Member of the Legislative Assembly


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