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What kind of government dynamics should I expect?

Government dynamics are of utmost importance when expanding in a new country. Here's how they work in Waterloo.

Each location you consider for an expansion may have substantially different government dynamics. Why does this matter?

This is the tenth part in our “Guide to Foreign Business Expansion” series tackling the 12 questions every business needs to ask. Download the full guide now.

The ways that governments divide responsibilities affects the process you need to follow to get a business license, build or renovate a space, pay taxes, access a global market and more.

In some places, such as smaller countries, the number of layers of government are limited to just one or two. In North America, you will typically find federal, state/provincial, regional and municipal governments.

While no two locations will be the same, here’s how responsibilities are often divided between orders of government using Waterloo as an example.

Local municipal governments

Local area municipalities in Waterloo Region are responsible for functions such as building inspections and permits, local economic development and parks and recreational programs, as well as shared responsibilities including zoning by-laws and neighbourhood plans, tax collection and local licensing. Businesses typically interact with this level of government on the most frequent basis.

Regional municipality

The upper-tier municipal government, the Region of Waterloo, serves to avoid duplication of public services, coordinate planning, and protect citizens at the community level. It is responsible for the Region of Waterloo International Airport, community services such as employment and income support, public health and public transit.

Responsibilities the Region of Waterloo shares with its lower-tier municipalities include regional roads and traffic, regional official planning and policies, as well as licensing and by-law enforcement.

Government of Ontario

The provincial government oversees areas affecting all of Ontario, such as education, health care and highways, as well as its own laws. While certain issues such as agriculture, trade and immigration can arise in both provincial and federal jurisdictions, the Government of Canada takes precedence in the case of conflict.

Government of Canada

Canada’s federal and uppermost level of government is responsible for international trade, foreign affairs, national defence and taxes. It additionally oversees matters related to banking, pipelines, shipping and railways.

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