In Canada, a First Ministers' conference is a meeting of the provincial and territorial premiers and the Prime Minister. These events are held at the call of the prime minister. They are usually held in Ottawa.
Though known as "First Ministers' conferences" only since the 1960s, they ultimately trace their origin to the initial constitutional convention held in the mid-1860s at Charlottetown, PEI, then-capital of the British Province of Prince Edward Island. After confederation, two conferences of provincial premiers were held, in 1887 and 1902, in which the federal government was not represented.
Altogether, 76 First Ministers' conferences have been held since the first was convened by Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1906, at the request of the provinces. Some important First Ministers' conferences were those leading up to the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords. The failed Charlottetown Accord contained a provision that would have made annual First Ministers' conferences obligatory.
The conferences are important for a number of reasons. A sizable portion of provincial funding (referred to as transfer payments) comes from the federal government, the conferences are an opportunity for the premiers to lobby for more money. Today it is common for the Premiers to meet beforehand to present a common front to the federal government. They are also important in that Canada's federal system leaves a fair amount of overlap between federal and provincial jurisdictions and most large initiatives require some provincial support.
The vast majority of the activity at a First Ministers' conference takes place behind closed doors. A public statement is issued after the conference.
Formerly, the government leaders of the territories were only occasionally invited to these conferences, depending on whether issues relevant to the north are being discussed. Today, these leaders normally attend the meetings. The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations may also be invited to attend when issues relevant to First Nations communities are on the agenda; the group has lobbied for greater inclusion.
List of First Ministers' conferences to date
|1||Sir Wilfrid Laurier||Conference of the Representatives of the Government of Canada and the Various Provinces||Ottawa||October 8–13, 1906||Financial subsidies to the provinces|
|2||Sir Robert Borden, but Sir William Thomas White chaired the conference as Acting Prime Minister||Conference between the Members of the Government of Canada and of the Various Provincial Governments Acting||Ottawa||November 19–22, 1918||Soldier and land settlement, transfer of natural resources|
|3||W.L. Mackenzie King||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||November 3–10, 1927||Various subjects listed under "Constitutional", "Financial" and "Social and Economic" titles|
|4||R.B. Bennett||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||April 7–8, 1931||Statute of Westminster|
|5||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||April 8–9, 1932||Unemployment relief|
|6||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||January 17–19, 1933||Various subjects including unemployment, old age pensions, company law and overlapping federal and provincial jurisdictions|
|7||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||January 18–19, 1934||Various subjects including employment, financial position of provinces, company law, taxes on liquor, Pacific Great Eastern Railway Company, B.C. claim for equality of treatment|
|8||W.L. Mackenzie King||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||December 9–13, 1935||Various subjects including constitutional amendment, federal–provincial financial relations, taxation, social services|
|9||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||January 14–15, 1941||Recommendations of Rowell-Sirois Commission (federal–provincial fiscal relations)|
|10||Dominion–Provincial Conference on Reconstruction||Ottawa||August 6–10, 1945||Postwar reconstruction and federal–provincial financial arrangements|
|11||Dominion–Provincial Conference on Reconstruction||Ottawa||April 29 – May 3, 1946||Financial arrangements, public investment, health, old age pensions, unemployment|
|12||Louis St. Laurent||Constitutional Conference of Federal and Provincial Governments||Ottawa||January 10–12, 1950||Constitutional amendment|
|13||Constitutional Conference of Federal and Provincial Governments||Quebec City||September 25–28, 1950||Constitutional amendment|
|14||Conference of Federal and Provincial Governments||Ottawa||December 4–7, 1950||Tax agreements, old age security, provincial indirect sales tax|
|15||Federal–Provincial Conference 1955, Preliminary Meeting||Ottawa||April 26–27, 1955||Federal relief for unemployed persons, and preparation of next Conference|
|16||Federal–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||October 3–6, 1955||Fiscal relations, natural resources development, establishment of a federal–provincial Continuing Committee, health and welfare|
|17||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||March 9, 1956||Federal–provincial fiscal arrangements|
|18||John George Diefenbaker||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||November 25–26, 1957||Hospital insurance, costs of assistance to persons in need, assistance to Atlantic provinces, fiscal matters|
|19||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||July 25–27, 1960||Various tax matters including personal and corporate income taxes, equalization, indirect provincial sales tax, taxation of natural resources. Conditional grants and shared cost programs|
|20||Dominion–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||October 26–28, 1960||Federal–provincial fiscal arrangements|
|21||Federal–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||February 23–24, 1961||Federal–provincial fiscal arrangements|
|22||Lester B. Pearson||Federal Provincial Conference||Ottawa||July 26–27, 1963||Municipal loan and development fund, Canada Pension Plan|
|23||Federal–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||November 26–29, 1963||Various subjects including state of the Canadian Economy, conditional grants and shared cost programs, fiscal relations, Canadian Pension Plan|
|24||Federal–Provincial Conference||Quebec City||March 31 – April 1, 1964||Shared cost programs and fiscal arrangements, Canada Pension Plan, taxation, fiscal relations, loans to university students|
|25||Federal–Provincial Conference||Charlottetown||August 31 – September 2, 1964||Constitutional amendment|
|26||Federal–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||October 14–15, 1964||Constitutional amendment, Tax Structure Committee, off-shore mineral rights|
|27||Federal–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||July 19–22, 1965||Various subjects including Social Security, Economic Development, Tax Structure Committee, Transportation and Inland Water Resources|
|28||Federal–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||October 24–28, 1966||Financing of higher education, federal–provincial fiscal arrangements|
|29||Federal–Provincial Conference on Housing and Urban Development||Ottawa||December 11–12, 1967||Housing and urban development|
|30||Constitutional Conference||Ottawa||February 5–7, 1968||Constitutional review, Recommendations of Royal Commission on Bilingualism & Biculturalism|
|31||Pierre Elliott Trudeau||Constitutional Conference||Ottawa||February 10–12, 1969||Constitutional review|
|32||Constitutional Conference||Ottawa||June 11–12, 1969||Constitutional review|
|33||Constitutional Conference||Ottawa||December 8–10, 1969||Constitutional review|
|34||Federal–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||February 16–17, 1970||Economy, Western agriculture, pollution, Tax Structure Committee|
|35||Constitutional Conference||Ottawa||September 14–15, 1970||Constitutional review|
|36||Federal–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||September 16, 1970||Various subjects including Tax reform, agricultural, economic stabilization fund|
|37||Constitutional Conference||Ottawa||February 8–9, 1971||Constitutional review, unemployment and northern resources|
|38||Constitutional Conference||Victoria||June 14–16, 1971||Constitutional review ("Victoria Charter")|
|39||Federal–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||November 15–17, 1971||Economy, employment, fiscal arrangements, tri-level consultations|
|40||Federal–Provincial Conference||Ottawa||May 23–25, 1973||Various subjects including social security system, health programs, post-secondary education, regional economic development, economic situation, foreign land ownership|
|41||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Energy||Ottawa||January 22–23, 1974||Various subjects including oil and gas policy, national energy policy and federal–provincial mechanisms for continuing consultation on energy|
|42||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Energy||Ottawa||April 9–10, 1975||The state of the economy and oil and gas prices and other related items|
|43||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers||Ottawa||June 14–15, 1976||Federal–provincial fiscal arrangements including shared-cost programs, revenue guarantee and equalization|
|44||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers||Ottawa||December 13–14, 1976||Fiscal arrangements and state of the economy|
|45||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Economy||Ottawa||February 13–15, 1978||Various subjects including economic outlook and objectives, general economic policies, regional aspects of economic development, and sectoral policies|
|46||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Constitution||Ottawa||October 30, 31 and November 1, 1978||Charter of rights, distribution of powers, institutions, process of constitutional review (creation of the Continuing Committee of Ministers on the Constitution or "CCMC") and duplication of services|
|47||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Economy||Ottawa||November 27–29, 1978||Various subjects including economic overview, labour market and employment issues, and economic coordination|
|48||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Constitution||Ottawa||February 5–6, 1979||Various subjects including consideration of questions raised at the Constitutional Conference (October 30 – November 1, 1978) and future constitutional work program|
|49||Joe Clark||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Energy||Ottawa||November 12, 1979||Oil supply, pricing and use, energy pricing and development, conservation and self-sufficiency|
|50||Pierre Elliott Trudeau||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Constitution||Ottawa||September 8–13, 1980||Various subjects including trade, communications, Upper House, Supreme Court, family law, fisheries, offshore resources, equalization, charter of rights, patriation and amending formula and powers over the economy|
|51||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Constitution||Ottawa||November 2–5, 1981||Consensus on patriation, constitutional amendment formula and charter of rights|
|52||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on the Economy||Ottawa||February 2–5, 1982||Economic management and development|
|53||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters||Ottawa||March 15–16, 1983||Various subjects including charter of rights, amending formula revisions and self-government|
|54||Federal–Provincial Conference of First Ministers on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters||Ottawa||March 8–9, 1984||Equality rights, treaties and treaty rights, land and resources and self-government|
|55||Brian Mulroney||First Ministers' Conference on the Economy||Regina||February 14–15, 1985||Investment, training and retraining, international trade and regional economic development ("Regina Accord" establishing "Annual Conference of First Ministers")|
|56||First Ministers' Conference on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters||Ottawa||April 2–3, 1985||Aboriginal constitutional matters including self-government and sexual equality rights|
|57||Annual Conference of First Ministers||Halifax||November 28–29, 1985||Federal–provincial relations, economic and fiscal situation, trade, agriculture, fisheries and economic and social development|
|58||Annual Conference of First Ministers||Vancouver||November 20–21, 1986||State of the Federation and the economy, economic development and economic equality for women|
|59||First Ministers' Conference on Aboriginal Constitutional Matters||Ottawa||March 26–27, 1987||Constitutional amendment on aboriginal self-government and treaties and treaty issues|
|60||First Ministers' Conference on the Constitution||Ottawa||June 3, 1987||Signing of the 1987 Constitutional Accord|
|61||Annual Conference of First Ministers||Toronto||November 26–27, 1987||Economic development|
|62||Annual Conference of First Ministers||Ottawa||November 9–10, 1989||Federal–Provincial priorities, environment/sustainable development and Meech Lake Accord|
|63||First Ministers' Conference on the Constitution||Ottawa||June 3–10, 1990||1987 Constitutional Accord (Meech Lake)|
|64||First Ministers' Meeting on the Economy||Ottawa||December 19, 1991||Coordinated approach to economic recovery|
|65||First Ministers' Meeting on the Economy||Ottawa||February 10, 1992||Pre-budget discussion of common economic recovery|
|66||First Ministers' Meeting on the Economy||Toronto||March 24–25, 1992||Various subjects including social programs, training, infrastructure, interprovincial trade barriers, international trade, agriculture, fisheries, tax coordination|
|67||First Ministers' Meeting on the Constitution||Ottawa||August 18, 1992|
|68||First Ministers' Meeting on the Constitution||Charlottetown||August 27–28, 1992||Final Consensus Report on the Constitution, Final Political Accords and Draft Legal Text based on the Charlottetown Accord|
|69||Jean Chrétien||First Ministers' Meeting – Economy||Ottawa||December 21, 1993||Economic renewal and fiscal responsibility, job creation and competitive economy and program coordination|
|70||First Ministers' Meeting – Trade||Ottawa||July 18, 1994||Internal trade|
|71||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||June 20–21, 1996||Canadian economy, renewal of the federation, Section 49, Constitution Act 1982, jobs and growth and social dimensions|
|72||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||December 11–12, 1997||Various subjects including social policy renewal, health and youth employment|
|73||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||February 4, 1999||Social Union Framework Agreement|
|74||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||September 10–11, 2000||Health care, childhood development|
|75||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||February 4–5, 2003||Health care|
|76||Paul Martin||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||January 30, 2004||Health care, public health, Canada-U.S. relations, emergency management|
|76-1||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||September 12-16, 2004||Health care - 10 year agreement on health care funding |
|76-2||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||October 26, 2004||Equalization and Territorial Formula Financing |
|76-3||First Ministers' Meeting with National Aboriginal Leaders||Ottawa||November 24-25, 2004||Kelowna Accord - Strengthening Relationships and Closing the Gap |
|77||Stephen Harper||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||November 10, 2008||Economy|
|78||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||January 16, 2009||Economy|
|79||Justin Trudeau||First Ministers' Meeting||Ottawa||November 23, 2015||Climate change, Syrian Crisis|
|80||First Ministers' Meeting||Vancouver||March 3, 2016||Climate change|
|81||First Ministers' Meeting and Meeting with National Indigenous Leaders||Ottawa||December 9, 2016||Climate change framework agreement|
- Council of Australian Governments, Similar body in Australia
- Joint Ministerial Committee (UK), Similar body in the United Kingdom
- National Governors Association, Similar body in the United States of America
- Canadian Constitution
- Council of the Federation
- Politics of Canada
- Political Culture of Canada
- Support For The Assembly Of First Nations To Be Invited As An Equal Partner At The First Ministers' Conference On The Economy Archived 2010-08-03 at the Wayback Machine. Assembly of First Nations, December 9, 2008.
- Patrice Dutil, "The Great Fiscal Imbalance of ... 1906" The Globe and Mail, 7 October 2007
- "Canada's first ministers to rally as economy stumbles". CTV.ca. Archived from the original on 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
- "Prime Minister and Premiers agree on action for the economy". Prime Minister of Canada.gc.ca. Government of Canada. 16 January 2009. Archived from the original on 2 May 2014. Retrieved 1 May 2014.
- "Justin Trudeau promises 'Canadian approach' to climate change". CBC.ca. CBC News. 23 November 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Climate, refugees top issues at first ministers meeting, Greg Selinger says". CBC.ca. CBC News Manitoba. 23 November 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Vancouver Declaration on clean growth and climate change". scics.gc.ca. Government of Canada. 3 March 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
- "Communiqué of Canada's First Ministers". scics.gc.ca. Government of Canada. 9 December 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.