hours of labour

Minister of Labour (Canada)

The Minister of Labour (Ministre du Travail) is the Minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet who is responsible for setting national labour standards and federal labour dispute mechanisms. Most of the responsibility for labour belongs with the provinces, however the federal government is responsible for labour issues in industries under its jurisdiction.

From 2004 to 2006 the position was styled the Minister of Labour and Housing (Ministre du Travail et du Logement), a name change corresponding with responsibility for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation being transferred to the portfolio at that time. "Minister of Labour" remains the title for legal purposes.

The Department of Labour was created in 1900. Previously, the responsibility for labour affairs was handled by the Postmaster General.

From 1993 to 1996 the Department of Labour was amalgamated with the Department of Employment and Immigration to create Human Resources Development Canada. Although the intent was to replace two cabinet posts with a single Minister of Human Resources Development, the desire to appoint "star candidate" Lucienne Robillard's to cabinet in 1995 gave the position received a reprieve from amalgamation—Robillard was given the title and positioned as a second minister inside HRDC, responsible for the "Labour Program."

A Dec. 2003 reorganization had seen HRDC dismantled and labour responsibilities passing to a successor department, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, again with two ministers, a Minister of Labour and a Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development. The name change to "Labour and Housing" occurred seven months later. The Ministry of HRDC was reconstituted in February 2006 as Human Resources and Social Development Canada, but still with two ministers.

The Minister of Labour and Housing is responsible for HRSDC's "Labour Program" and thus is responsible for the Canada Labour Code, the Employment Equity Act, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service as well as the implementation of health and safety legislation. Other Acts the Minister retains responsibility for include the Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act, Government Employees Compensation Act and Merchant Seamen Compensation Act. The Minister is also responsible for the Strategic Policy and International Labour Affairs (SPILA) Directorate which focuses on workplace trends and changes, including work-life balanceand the reformation of employment relationships and the Workplace Information Directorate (WID) which provides information on workplace conditions, trends and innovative practices through direct personal services, electronic means, and various publications, including the Workplace Gazette and the Wage Settlements Bulletin.


1. William Lyon Mackenzie King Cabinet of Laurier June 2 1909October 6 1911
2. Thomas Wilson Crothers Cabinet of Borden October 10 1911November 6 1918
3. Gideon Decker Robertson Cabinet of Borden November 8 1918July 10 1920
Cabinet of Meighen July 10 1920December 29 1921
4. James Murdock Cabinet of King December 29 1921November 12 1925
* James Horace King (Acting) Cabinet of King November 13 1925March 7 1926
5. John Campbell Elliott Cabinet of King March 8 1926June 28 1926
* Robert James Manion (Acting) Cabinet of Meighen June 29 1926July 12 1926
6. George Burpee Jones Cabinet of Meighen July 13 1926September 25 1926
7. Peter Heenan Cabinet of King September 25 1926August 7 1930
Gideon Decker Robertson (2nd time) Cabinet of Bennett August 7 1930February 2 1932
8. Wesley Ashton Gordon Cabinet of Bennett February 3 1932October 23 1935
9. Norman McLeod Rogers Cabinet of King October 24 1935September 18 1939
10. Norman Alexander McLarty Cabinet of King September 19 1939December 14 1941
11. Humphrey Mitchell Cabinet of King December 15 1941November 15 1948
under St-Laurent November 15 1948August 2 1950
* Paul Joseph James Martin (Acting) Cabinet of St-Laurent August 3 1950August 6 1950
12. Milton Fowler Gregg Cabinet of St-Laurent August 7 1950June 21 1957
13. Michael Starr Cabinet of Diefenbaker June 21 1957April 21 1963
14. Allan MacEachen Cabinet of Pearson April 22 1963December 17 1965
15. John Robert Nicholson Cabinet of Pearson December 18 1965April 20 1968
16. Jean-Luc Pépin Cabinet of Trudeau April 20 1968July 5 1968
17. Bryce Stuart Mackasey Cabinet of Trudeau July 6 1968January 27 1972
18. Martin Patrick O'Connell Cabinet of Trudeau January 28 1972November 26 1972
19. John Carr Munro Cabinet of Trudeau November 27 1972September 7 1978
* André Ouellet (Acting) Cabinet of Trudeau September 8 1978November 23 1978
Martin Patrick O'Connell (2nd time) Cabinet of Trudeau November 24 1978June 3 1979
20. Lincoln Alexander Cabinet of Clark June 4 1979March 2 1980
21. Gerald Regan Cabinet of Trudeau March 3 1980September 21 1981
22. Charles Caccia Cabinet of Trudeau September 22 1981August 11 1983
23. André Ouellet Cabinet of Trudeau August 12 1983June 29 1984
Cabinet of Turner June 30 1984September 16 1984
24. William Hunter McKnight Cabinet of Mulroney September 17 1984June 29 1986
25. Pierre H. Cadieux Cabinet of Mulroney June 30 1986January 29 1989
26. Jean Corbeil Cabinet of Mulroney January 30 1989April 20 1991
27. Marcel Danis Cabinet of Mulroney April 21 1991June 24 1993
28. Bernard Valcourt Cabinet of Campbell June 25 1993November 3 1993
29. Lloyd Axworthy Cabinet of Chrétien November 4 1993February 21 1995
30. Lucienne Robillard Cabinet of Chrétien February 22 1995January 24 1996
31. Alfonso Gagliano Cabinet of Chrétien January 25 1996June 10 1997
32. Lawrence MacAulay Cabinet of Chrétien June 11 1997November 22 1998
33. Claudette Bradshaw Cabinet of Chrétien November 23 1998December 11 2003
Cabinet of Martin December 12 2003July 19 2004
34. Joe Fontana (styled as Minister of Labour and Housing) Cabinet of Martin July 20 2004February 5 2006
35. Jean-Pierre Blackburn Cabinet of Harper February 6 2006 -

Though the Department of Labour was created in 1900 the position of Minister of Labour did not exist until 1909. Prior to then the administration of the department was the responsibility of the Postmaster General. In 1996 the Department of Labour was abolished, but the ministerial position continued within Human Resources Development Canada from 1996 to 2003, and Human Resources and Social Development Canada from 2003 to date.

In 2004 the portfolio was renamed from “Labour” to “Labour and Housing”.

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