A sociologist, from 1967 to 1970, Monique Bégin was executive secretary for the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada, In 1972, she became the first woman from Quebec to be elected to the House of Commons, winning three subsequent terms (1974, 1979, 1980). First appointed parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs by Pierre Elliot Trudeau, she went on to become minister of National Revenue (1976-1977) and three times appointed minister of National Health and Welfare including the ministerial responsibility for the Medical Research Council (1977-1984). Her many political successes include the creation of the Child Tax Credit and the unanimous passage of the 1984 Canada Health Act, which strengthened the nation's healthcare system.
Having left politics at the end of 1984, Monique Bégin, a sociologist, was successively the first holder of the University of Ottawa-Carleton University Joint Chair in Women's Studies (1986-90); the Dean of Health Sciences at University of Ottawa (1990-97); and Visiting Professor Emeritus at the Master’s in Health Administration at its Telfer School of Management, retiring in 2010.
While a Dean, she co-chaired Ontario's Royal Commission on Learning and was a member of the International Independent Commission for Population and Quality of Life. She later served as commissioner of the WHO International Commission on Social Determinants of Health (2005-2008).
A fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an officer of the Order of Canada, she has also received 18 honorary doctorates from Canadian universities, for, most notably, her contribution to human rights as well as public policy. In 2016, Monique Bégin received the Governor General’s Awards in Commemoration of the Persons Case, honouring Canadians who advance gender equality.