Decentralization, in federal countries, occurs when there is a substantial sharing of power, authority, financial resources and political support among federal, provincial and local GOVERNMENTS. The less concentrated these resources are in the central government, the more decentralized the system. Decentralization may also mean a process of shifting power from the federal to provincial governments.

It is often said that the provinces' strength may make Canada the world's most decentralized federal country, and that Canada has resisted economic and social forces which increased centralization elsewhere (see FEDERALISM). Decentralization also means power-sharing among any set of units; centralization within the federal or provincial governments can be gauged by assessing power in Cabinet as compared to that in legislatures, judiciaries or other bodies.