Managing the Forgotten North: Governance Structures and Administrative Operations of Canada’s Provincial Norths


  • Ken Coates University of Saskatchewan
  • Carin Holroyd University of Saskatchewan
  • Joelena Leader University of Saskatchewan


The Provincial Norths in Canada are among the most marginalized, externally controlled and impoverished regions in the country, a reality largely obscured by the country’s long-time preoccupation with conditions in the Territorial North. Canada may see a new Provincial North in the years to come, but substantial progress requires the willingness and ability of provincial governments to adapt their policies, administrative systems, and expectations to northern needs. In this article, the authors review the governance structures and regional operations of the Canadian Provincial Norths including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Quebec. Particular attention is placed on administrative structures, departmental identity and autonomy, connection to the broader government structures, and governance legislation. The information is provided on a province-by-province basis, as arrangements vary substantially across the country. The governance systems for the northern parts of the provinces have shifted considerably over time, as south-centred provincial governments wrestle with the challenges of balancing northern interests with the province-wide supports for aggressive resource development.

Author Biographies

Ken Coates, University of Saskatchewan

Professor of History, Director of the International Centre for Northern Governance and Development, and Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy

Carin Holroyd, University of Saskatchewan

Associate Professor, Political Studies, and Chair, International Studies Program

Joelena Leader, University of Saskatchewan

Junior Research Associate, International Centre for Northern Governance and Development






Political and Economic Change in Canada's Provincial Norths