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Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is the department of the Government of Canada responsible for developing, managing and delivering social programs and services.


The mission of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), including the Labour Program and Service Canada, is to build a stronger and more inclusive Canada, to support Canadians in helping them live productive and rewarding lives and improving Canadians' quality of life.


ESDC delivers programs and services to each and every Canadian throughout their lives in a significant capacity. ESDC fulfills its’ mission by:

  1. developing policies that ensure Canadians can use their talents, skills and resources to participate in learning, work and their community
  2. delivering programs that help Canadians move through life’s transitions, from school to work, from one job to another, from unemployment to employment, from the workforce to retirement
  3. providing income support to seniors, families with children and those unemployed due to job loss, illness or caregiving responsibilities
  4. helping Canadians with distinct needs such as Indigenous people, persons with disabilities, homeless people, travelers and recent immigrants
  5. ensuring labour relations stability by providing mediation services
  6. promoting a fair and healthy workplace by enforcing minimum working conditions, promoting decent work and employment equity, and fostering respect for international labour standards; and
  7. delivering programs and services on behalf of other departments and agencies

For more information on the department’s organizational mandate letters commitments, see the Ministers’ mandate letters.

Our Ministers and Deputy Ministers

Government departments are headed by ministers, who:

  • receive confidential advice from the public service, and
  • are held accountable for their decisions in Parliament and the country

Deputy ministers are senior civil servants who:

  • take political direction from the minister, and
  • are responsible for the department's day-to-day operations, budget and program development
Deputy Ministers
  • Cliff Groen, Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development and Chief Operating Officer for Service Canada
  • Sandra Hassan, Deputy Minister of Labour and Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development
  • Tina Namiesniowski, Senior Associate Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development
  • John Ostrander, Business Lead, Benefits Delivery Modernization, Employment and Social Development Canada
  • Paul Thompson, Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development

External Programs

Income Security and Social Development Branch

The Income Security and Social Development branch is the focal point for social policy and programs designed to ensure that children, families, seniors, people with disabilities, the homeless and those at risk of homelessness, communities and others who are facing social challenges have the support, knowledge, and information they need to maintain their well-being and facilitate their participation in society.

Office of Disability Issues

The Office for Disability Issues (ODI) is a focal point within the Government of Canada for key partners working to promote the full inclusion and participation of Canadians with disabilities in all aspects of society and community life.ODI strives to provide leadership and foster excellence within the Government of Canada in this area of shared responsibilities.

Learning Branch

The Learning branch helps Canadians attend college, university and trade schools by providing advice, loans, assistance, grants to students, by encouraging individuals and organizations to save for a child's post-secondary education, and by assisting children from low-income families through grants. It is responsible for programs and services related to learning, including student financial assistance, savings incentives for post-secondary education, and literacy.

Program Operations Branch

The Program Operations branch handles the operation and coordination of the Grant and Contributions programs across the Department.

Skills and Employment Branch

The Skills and Employment branch provides programs and initiatives that promote skills development, labour market participation and inclusiveness, as well as ensuring labour market efficiency. Specifically, these programs seek to address the employment and skills needs of those facing employment barriers, and contribute to lifelong learning and building a skilled inclusive labour force. Other programs that support an efficient labour market include the labour market integration of recent immigrants, the entry of temporary foreign workers, the mobility of workers across Canada and the dissemination of labour market information. This branch is also responsible for programs that provide temporary income support to eligible unemployed workers.

Office of Literacy and Essential Skills

The Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) is focused on improving the literacy and essential skills of adult Canadians. OLES provides expertise, project funding, and a wide range of learning tools and other resources. Through its activities, OLES aims to help Canadians get the skills they need to get a job, stay in the job market, and contribute to their communities and families.

Internal Services

Chief Audit Executive

The Chief Audit Executive supports the Department by providing independent, objective assurance to management on the adequacy and effectiveness of the management control frameworks, risk management, and governance processes within the department, as well as liaison services with the Office of the Auditor General and Central Agencies.

Chief Financial Officer

The Chief Financial Officer provides functional direction, guidance and leadership for the management of the Department's financial resources, and works to cultivate and ensure an environment of fiscal responsibility, compliance and accountability.

Corporate Secretary

The Corporate Secretary supports the Department by providing portfolio coordination, executive and ministerial services; coordination of cabinet and parliamentary affairs, and management of Access to Information and Privacy Act requests.

Human Resources Services Branch

The Human Resources Services branch provides human resource services and technical expertise to the Department including succession planning, career development, orientation and training; compensation and benefits; classification and staffing; organizational renewal design and development; labour relations; occupational health and safety; and employment equity and official languages.

Innovation, Information and Technology Branch

The Innovation, Information and Technology branch provides information and technology services to the Department. This includes business applications that support and streamline work processes, access data, and process millions of benefit-related transactions to address Canadians' needs.

Legal Services Branch

The Legal Services branch provides legal services to support the core operations and key initiatives of the Department. The services provided include: legal advice on program statutes and policies administered by the Department, policy advice for developing policy and legislative or regulatory proposals, and representing the Department before boards, tribunals and courts.

Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations Branch

The Public Affairs and Stakeholder Relations branch informs Canadians about ESDC's mandate, policies and programs. It also supports departmental activities in engaging and communicating with stakeholders and citizens.

Strategic and Service Policy Branch

The Strategic and Service Policy Branch (SSPB) integrates strategic and operational policy and service delivery across the Department. SSPB responsibilities include the development of economic, social and service strategic policies related to the mandate of the department; research activities in these sectors; strategic planning and priorities; the coordination of Service Canada regional operations; the Innovation Lab; strategic management of data; programs evaluation; Cabinet affairs and; intergovernmental and international relations.

Portfolio organizations and partners

Portfolio organizations

Labour Program

The federal Labour Program works for you by promoting safe, healthy, cooperative and productive workplaces that benefit us all. Canadians are entitled to be treated fairly on the job and, through legislation, programs and services, we foster good working conditions, constructive labour-management relations and workplaces free from discrimination.

Service Canada

Service Canada is the place Canadians go to access programs, services, and benefits they need from the Government of Canada and its many partners.


Commissions, tribunals, councils and committees


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