Communicating with the government

Communicating with your elected government representatives is a great way to let them know about the issues and policies that are important to you as one of their constituents. It’s helpful to know who to speak with and how to speak with elected representatives at different levels.

Provinces and territories are broken up into ridings. Each riding has an elected representative at both the provincial/territorial level and the federal level.

Provincial and territorial government

The elected representative of your riding at the provincial/territorial level is someone who can assist with issues that are directly connected to your province/territory. Acronyms in the political world can be confusing and make it difficult to figure out to whom you should be speaking. To add to the challenge, these acronyms are not the same in every province.  Here is a quick breakdown of the acronyms use for elected members in each province:

Federal government

Elected representatives to the House of Commons are called Members of Parliament (MPs). They represent your riding at the federal level and can be a good person to write to when advocating for yourself.

Depending on the topic of the issue you are writing about, you may want to direct your letter to a specific Cabinet Minister (i.e. Minister of Health).  The Prime Minister sends mandate letters to each Minister to identify issues of priority, so you may want to explore if the issue has been designated a priority in the Minsters mandate letters.

The most common way to communicate with government officials is by a mailed letter or by email. While hardcopy, mailed letters have an increased chance of being read, elected officials receive letters and emails from across the country. It is possible that not all letter/emails will be read or receive a response.

How to address the letter

Here are a few suggested strategies to increase the chance your communication will be read:

  • Be clear and concise.  Keep letters to a page or two, as longer letters will most likely not be read in their entirety.
  • Start with a brief intro about yourself
  • Briefly explain the issue you want to raise awareness about and what your concerns are
  • Identify what you would like to see happen or if any solution is available and what action you would like the reader to take
  • Indicate whether you would like a reply
  • Use spell check
  • Be polite. A calm, friendly tone in a letter is more likely to get a response than a negative one
  • Maintain a professional dialogue. This will not only give you more credibility but will increase the chance they will respond and possibly engage you in action. This does not mean you can’t comment on a policy or program they support but do it in in a constructive way