First Ministers’ Meeting

AGREEMENT – A Framework to Improve the Social Union for Canadians

An agreement between
the Government of Canada
and the Governments
of the Provinces and Territories


February 4, 1999


The following agreement is based upon a mutual respect between orders of government and a willingness to work more closely together to meet the needs of Canadians.

1.    Principles

Canada's social union should reflect and give expression to the fundamental values of Canadians--equality, respect for diversity, fairness, individual dignity and responsibility, and mutual aid and our responsibilities for one another.

Within their respective constitutional jurisdictions and powers, governments commit to the following principles:

All Canadians are equal

  • Treat all Canadians with fairness and equity
  • Promote equality of opportunity for all Canadians
  •  Respect the equality, rights and dignity of all Canadian women and men and their diverse needs

Meeting the needs of Canadians

  • Ensure access for all Canadians, wherever they live or move in Canada, to essential social programs and services of reasonably comparable quality
  • Provide appropriate assistance to those in need
  •  Respect the principles of medicare: comprehensiveness, universality, portability, public administration and accessibility
  •  Promote the full and active participation of all Canadians in Canada's social and economic life
  •  Work in partnership with individuals, families, communities, voluntary organizations, business and labour, and ensure appropriate opportunities for Canadians to have meaningful input into social policies and programs

Sustaining social programs and services

  • Ensure adequate, affordable, stable and sustainable funding for social programs

Aboriginal peoples of Canada

  • For greater certainty, nothing in this agreement abrogates or derogates from any Aboriginal, treaty or other rights of Aboriginal peoples including self-government
2.    Mobility within Canada

All governments believe that the freedom of movement of Canadians to pursue opportunities anywhere in Canada is an essential element of Canadian citizenship.

Governments will ensure that no new barriers to mobility are created in new social policy initiatives.

Governments will eliminate, within three years, any residency-based policies or practices which constrain access to post-secondary education, training, health and social services and social assistance unless they can be demonstrated to be reasonable and consistent with the principles of the Social Union Framework.

Accordingly, sector Ministers will submit annual reports to the Ministerial Council identifying residency-based barriers to access and providing action plans to eliminate them.

Governments are also committed to ensure, by July 1, 2001, full compliance with the mobility provisions of the Agreement on Internal Trade by all entities subject to those provisions, including the requirements for mutual recognition of occupational qualifications and for eliminating residency requirements for access to employment opportunities.

3.    Informing Canadians--Public
      Accountability and Transparency

Canada's Social Union can be strengthened by enhancing each government's transparency and accountability to its constituents.
Each government therefore agrees t

Achieving and Measu