What is the purpose of a provincial government?

The purpose of the provincial government is to take care of the people of Alberta and to
protect their interests. Some of the interests that our provincial government looks after
include energy, education, seniors, tourism, provincial parks, agriculture and food,
sustainable resources, aboriginal (First Nations) relations, children's services and health

How does the provincial government pay for its services?

The Government of Alberta collects taxes in order to pay for the services the province
requires. The two biggest areas in which the Alberta Government spends the money that
it collects from taxes are Health Care and Education. In 2006-07, they spent a total of
$28.3 billion, and more than half of that was in those two areas.


All Grade 6 students throughout the province of Alberta learn the same basic things in
school, although the are taught differently. Many use the same textbooks, and the
provincial tests at the end of the year are all the same. The Department of Education of
the Alberta Government makes these decisions. This is the department that decides how
much money to give to local school boards to do things like hire school staff and improve
school buildings.

What do you think? Do you think that it is a good idea that students in
Edmonton learn the same things as students in Turner Valley? Do you think that
they should learn different things?

Resource Management

As you will remember from our petroleum unit, energy resources (particularly petroleum
resources such as oil and gas) are essential for the Albertan economy. These resources
are managed by the provincial government and ensure that billions of dollars are kept
within the province.

Health Care

All throughout Canada, we have universal health care. That means that health care is
provided for every Canadian citizen. It is not that way in many other countries. In the
United States, people pay hundreds of dollars every month so that they are protected
should they ever become sick. There are many people who don't have health care, and
those people need to pay huge hospital fees if they ever get hurt or sick. We only have to
pay a small premium, or fee, to cover our health care. Those who are seniors or cannot
afford to pay the premium are helped out with government subsidies, which are funds
that the government provides to those who need it in order to participate in the health
care program. By having health care, you and your family are protected in case one of
you ever gets sick or hurt.


The local, provincial and federal governments all take part in making laws. An example
of a provincial law is the one that was created in 2001 that states that all Albertans under
the age of 18 must wear a helmet when they are riding their bicycle. We also have
provincial laws that pertain to smoking in public places. A law begins when an elected
official in the provincial government (an MLA or Member of the Legislative Assembly)
introduces a bill, or a suggested law. Other MLAs and the public get a chance to take a
look at the bill. If someone in the public doesn't like it, they can tell their local MLA to
vote against it. After that, the bill gets a second reading in the Legislative Assembly. At
this time the bill is debated and voted on. If the vote passes, the bill moves on to a third
reading. If the majority of the MLAs vote for the bill on the third reading, it is sent to the
Lieutenant Governor to be signed, and is now an act, or law.


The major difference between elections at the local and provincial level is the existence of
political parties. It is very hard to get elected if you do not have a political party (which
would mean that you are an independent). The Premier of Alberta is the leader of the
political party that wins the most seats during the provincial election. This current Premier
is Ed Stelmach. There are currently 83 seats to be won. Currently, the most powerful
political party in Alberta is the Progressive Conservative (PC) Party. They have won
every election in this province since 1971. The second largest party is the Liberal Party.
They won the first four elections in Alberta's history, but have not won one since 1917.
The other major parties in Alberta today are the New Democratic Party, the Wild Rose
Party and the Green Party. None of those parties have ever won an election.

The area that you vote in is called a constituency. The person elected to represent a
constituency is called a Member of the Legidslative Assembly, or MLA. Turner Valley is
in the Foothills-Rockyview constituency and your MLA is Ted Morton (I live in
Okotoks, which is in the Highwood Constituency... my MLA is different, his name is
George Groeneveld). To win the seat in your constituency, you need to get more votes
than anyone else. Voters must live in the constituency, be a Canadian citizen, be at least
18 years old, and live in Alberta for at least six months before election day.

The Lieutenant Governor

Canada is a constitutional monarchy. The means that even though we elect our own
officials, the Queen of England is still our head of state. The queen has a representative in
both the federal government and in each of the provincial governments. In the federal
government, this representative is called the Governor General. In our provincial
government, this representative is called the Lieutenant General. Our current Lieutenant
Governor is a former CFL football player named Norman L. Kwong. He is the first
Canadian of Chinese ancestry to become Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. The duties of
the Lieutenant Governor are to invite the leader of the winning party in the election to
become premier, call the Legislature into session, read the `Speech from the Throne`
(describe what the government intends to do ion the upcoming session), dissolve the
Assembly so that anb election can be called, and sign all bills that pass the Legislative
Assembly into law. The Prime Minister recommends a person to the job of Lieutenant
Governor, and the Governor General then appoints that person.

What do you think? Do you think that Alberta should have a Lieutenant
Governor? Should Canada be a constitutional monarchy?

How is the Provincial Government Structured?

The provincial government is structured as follows;

Cabinet Ministers

Cabinet members are MLAs who are selected to become ministers of different
departments in the government. Some of those departments include Education,
Environment, Employment, Immigration and Industry. Here are some of the differences
between regular MLAs and members of the cabinet;
From pages 128 to 149 of
Pearson Education's
Voices in
Provincial Government
"In democracy
everyone has the
right to be
represented, even
the jerks." -

6.1.5 analyze the
structure and functions
of Alberta’s provincial
government by
exploring and
reflecting upon the
following questions and

• How is the provincial
government structured?

• What is the role and
status of the Lieutenant
Governor within the
provincial government?

• What are the
responsibilities of the
provincial government (i.e.,
laws, taxes, services)?

• How are representatives
chosen at the provincial
level of government (i.e.,

• What are the differences
between the
responsibilities of a
Member of the Legislative
Assembly (MLA) and a
cabinet minister?
Political Party
# of
% of
New Democratic Party
Wild Rose
Green Party
2007 Alberta General Election Statistics
Alberta Legislature