What Does Canada's Cabinet Do?

The Canadian Ministry's Role and How Its Ministers Are Chosen

Parliament Building, Victoria, British Columbia
Parliament Building, Victoria, British Columbia. Mitch Diamond Getty Images

In the Canadian federal government, the Cabinet is made up of the prime minister, members of Parliament and sometimes senators. Each member of the Cabinet, also known as the Ministry or the Cabinet du Canada in French, is assigned a portfolio of responsibilities, usually the subject matter of a government department, such as Agriculture and Agri-Food, Employment and Social Development, Health, and Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

Cabinets in the Canadian provincial and territory governments are similar, except that Cabinet ministers are chosen by the prime minister from members of the legislative assembly. In provincial and territory governments, the Cabinet may be called the Executive Council.

What the Canadian Cabinet Does

The Cabinet members, who are also known as ministers, are responsible for the administration of government and the establishment of government policy in Canada. The Cabinet members introduce legislation and serve on committees within the Cabinet. Each position entails different responsibilities. The Minister of Finance, for example, oversees Canada's financial affairs and heads the Finance Department. The Minister of Justice is also the Attorney General of Canada, serving as both the Cabinet's legal adviser and the country's chief law officer.

How Cabinet Ministers Are Chosen

The Canadian prime minister, who is the head of the government, recommends individuals to fill Cabinet seats.

She or he makes these recommendations to the head of state, the governor-general, who then appoints the members of the Cabinet. The Cabinet members are expected to hold a seat in one of Canada's two parliamentary bodies, the House of Commons or the Senate. Cabinet members typically come from all over Canada.

Over time, the size of the Cabinet has changed as different prime ministers have restructured and reorganized the Ministry.