Originally a teacher, Monique Bégin earned her Master's in Sociology at the Université de Montréal and did her doctoral studies at the Sorbonne (1961-63) before working in applied social sciences in the private sector in Montreal. From 1967-70, she served as executive secretary for the Royal Commission on the Status of Women in Canada.
The Honourable Monique Bégin was the first Quebec woman elected to the House of Commons (1972), where she served successively as Parliamentary Secretary for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Revenue, and Minister of Health and Welfare (1977-84) before moving to the world of academics.
She held the joint University of Ottawa-Carleton University Chair in Women's Studies from 1986 to 1990, and then became Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ottawa (1990-97). During that time she also chaired Ontario's Royal Commission on Learning. Ms. Bégin is currently a Visiting Professor at the Telfer School of Management.
Monique Bégin is a member of the Royal Society of Canada and has received 15 honorary doctorates for her contributions to human rights and public policy. She was named to the Queen's Privy Council in 1976 and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1998. From 2005 to August 2008, when the Commission published its report and recommendations, she was a member of the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health. In 2008, she was made a Distinguished Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and received the "Lifetime Achievement" award from the Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada (CDPAC) in recognition for her efforts to promote health.