Alberta.ca

How government works

Learn about the Alberta government’s mandate, key positions within government, and how it's organized.

Organization

Alberta is divided into 87 constituencies–groups of voters in specific areas of the province. During a provincial election, the candidate in each constituency who wins the highest number of votes becomes the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for that constituency. The leader of the political party with the most winning candidates becomes the Premier of Alberta. The premier and ministers form the government.

Legislation

Laws are introduced as bills and debated by MLAs before being put to a vote. If the Assembly passes a bill, it goes to the Lieutenant Governor for Royal Assent, at which point it becomes law.

How laws and legislation work

Proposed legislation

Laws

Mandate

The Speech from the Throne opens each new session of the Legislature and outlines the broad goals and direction for government.


Key positions

The Lieutenant Governor

The Lieutenant Governor is the Queen's representative in Alberta. Constitutional duties of the Lieutenant Governor include ensuring the province always has a Premier so that there’s continuity in governance, opening and closing each Legislature Session, and granting Royal Assent to measures and Bills passed by the Assembly to give them the force of law.

The Honourable Lois Mitchell, CM, AOE, is the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta.

The Legislature

The Legislature is the provincial equivalent of Canada's Parliament. Alberta's Legislature is made up of the Lieutenant Governor and a single body of elected representatives called the Legislative Assembly. The Premier and Cabinet, like their federal counterparts, belong to the political party with the most elected members in the Assembly.

By law, a provincial general election must be held every 5 years, but may be held sooner. In a general election, Albertans from across the province vote on who they want to represent them in the Legislative Assembly.

Sometimes a seat in the Legislative Assembly is vacated before the next provincial election. When this happens, a by-election is called. A by-election is an election held in one constituency only. The winner of the by-election becomes the new MLA for that constituency until the next general election.

The Premier

The Premier is the head of the Government of Alberta. The leader of the political party with the most seats in the Legislative Assembly becomes the Premier. While the Premier doesn’t need to be an MLA to lead the province, they do need to be an MLA to sit in the Legislature and participate in debate. As head of Executive Council, the Premier chooses cabinet ministers from among elected members of the governing party.

The Honorable Rachel Notley is the Premier of Alberta, and President of Executive Council.

Executive Council Office

The Executive Council Office provides support to the Premier and the members of Executive Council. It ensures effective strategic planning and coordinated policy development across government, and engagement of Albertans. The office is led by the Deputy Minister of Executive Council, Richard Dicerni.

The Cabinet

The Cabinet is the framework in which members of Executive Council put government policies into practice. Cabinet ministers are MLAs in charge of specific government ministries. Beyond approving Orders in Council, Cabinet ratifies policy matters and is the final authority on issues related to the day-to-day operation of government. The Premier chairs Cabinet.

The Speaker

The Speaker directs debates and proceedings in the Legislative Assembly. The Speaker is an elected MLA. At the beginning of the first Legislative session after an election, all MLAs vote for the Speaker by secret ballot.

The speaker of the Legislature is Robert E. Wanner.

The Opposition

The Opposition is made up of MLAs who aren’t part of the governing party. The role of the Opposition is to critique government activity, propose improvements to legislation, and present itself to the public as an alternative to the party in office. Alberta currently has 4 opposition parties. The Wildrose Party has the most opposition seats in the Assembly and is called the Official Opposition. The Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta, the Alberta Liberal Party, and the Alberta Party also sit in opposition.

Members of the Legislative Assemby

Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are elected by Albertans to make the laws we live by in this province. Each MLA represents a constituency. MLAs selected by the Premier to represent ministries are referred to as cabinet ministers. Those who aren’t in Cabinet are referred to as private members, or caucus members of their particular political party. In the province's last general election, held on May 5, 2015, Albertans elected MLAs to 87 seats.

Ministries

20 Ministries currently make up the Alberta government. These departments deliver the programs and services mandated by Alberta’s laws. Each ministry is headed by a deputy minister, a member of the Alberta public service who in turn reports to a minister, an elected official and member of Cabinet.

Public agencies

Public agencies are boards, commissions, tribunals or other organizations established by government, but not part of a government department. They work alongside ministries to deliver programs and services. Alberta’s Agency Governance Secretariat helps ensure Alberta government agencies are well governed.

Government committees

Government committees review policy decisions, long-range strategic priorities, legislation and regulations. These committees include: Treasury Board, Economic Policy Committee, Legislative Review Committee, and Social Policy Committee.

Public service

Alberta’s public service is made up of over 27,000 government employees throughout the province. Each works for one of 20 ministries, or a public agency. They perform the legal, policy, administrative and practical duties needed to deliver programs and services to Albertans.