Dear Ms. Mihychuk:
I am honoured that you have agreed to serve Canadians as Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. You will be part of a strong team of ministers led by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
We have promised Canadians a government that will bring real change – in both what we do and how we do it. Canadians sent a clear message in this election, and our platform offered a new, ambitious plan for a strong and growing middle class. Canadians expect us to fulfill our commitments, and it is my expectation that you will do your part in delivering on those promises to Canadians.
We made a commitment to invest in growing our economy, strengthening the middle class, and helping those working hard to join it. We committed to provide more direct help to those who need it by giving less to those who do not. We committed to public investment as the best way to spur economic growth, job creation, and broad-based prosperity. We committed to a responsible, transparent fiscal plan for challenging economic times.
I expect Canadians to hold us accountable for delivering these commitments, and I expect all ministers to do their part – individually and collectively – to improve economic opportunity and security for Canadians.
It is my expectation that we will deliver real results and professional government to Canadians. To ensure that we have a strong focus on results, I will expect Cabinet committees and individual ministers to: track and report on the progress of our commitments; assess the effectiveness of our work; and align our resources with priorities, in order to get the results we want and Canadians deserve.
If we are to tackle the real challenges we face as a country – from a struggling middle class to the threat of climate change – Canadians need to have faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen. I expect that our work will be informed by performance measurement, evidence, and feedback from Canadians. We will direct our resources to those initiatives that are having the greatest, positive impact on the lives of Canadians, and that will allow us to meet our commitments to them. I expect you to report regularly on your progress toward fulfilling our commitments and to help develop effective measures that assess the impact of the organizations for which you are answerable.
I made a personal commitment to bring new leadership and a new tone to Ottawa. We made a commitment to Canadians to pursue our goals with a renewed sense of collaboration. Improved partnerships with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments are essential to deliver the real, positive change that we promised Canadians. No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
We have also committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government. It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves. Government and its information should be open by default. If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians. It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect – they expect us to be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.
Our platform guides our government. Over the course of our four-year mandate, I expect us to deliver on all of our commitments. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we fulfill our promises, while living within our fiscal plan. Other issues will arise or will be brought to our attention by Canadians, stakeholders, and the public service. It is my expectation that you will engage constructively and thoughtfully and add priorities to your agenda when appropriate.
As Minister, you will be held accountable for our commitment to bring a different style of leadership to government. This will include: close collaboration with your colleagues; meaningful engagement with Opposition Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees and the public service; constructive dialogue with Canadians, civil society, and stakeholders, including business, organized labour, the broader public sector, and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors; and identifying ways to find solutions and avoid escalating conflicts unnecessarily. As well, members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who, by asking necessary questions, contribute in an important way to the democratic process. Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential.
Canadians expect us, in our work, to reflect the values we all embrace: inclusion, honesty, hard work, fiscal prudence, and generosity of spirit. We will be a government that governs for all Canadians, and I expect you, in your work, to bring Canadians together.
You are expected to do your part to fulfill our government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure gender parity and that Indigenous Canadians and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.
As Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, your overarching goal will be to help Canadians get the skills they need for good quality jobs. You will be able to achieve this goal by working with provinces, territories, municipalities, the post-secondary education system, employers and labour to strengthen our training systems to build the human capital that Canadians and employers need. You will undertake this work in a collaborative way with provinces and territories.
In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:
- Improve our Employment Insurance (EI) system so that it is better aligned with the realities of today’s labour market and serves workers and employers. This would include:
- repealing the recent changes made to the EI system that have been punitive to unemployed workers;
- reduce EI premiums;
- undertaking a broad review of the EI system with the goal of modernizing our system of income support for unemployed workers that leaves too many workers with no unemployment insurance safety net;
- eliminating discrimination against immigrants, younger workers and parents re-entering the workforce so that they are treated the same as other workers in their region;
- reducing the wait time for new recipients to one week from the existing two week waiting period;
- working with the Minister of Finance to ensure that EI contributions are only used to fund EI programs; and
- working with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to set transparent service standards for the delivery of EI benefits so that Canadians get timely access to the benefits to which they are entitled.
- Improve workers’ access to good quality job training that provides Canadians with pathways to good careers. This would include:
- rationalizing and expanding the intergovernmental agreements that support skills training: the Labour Market Development Agreements, the Labour Market Agreements, and the Canada Job Grant. This work should support the efforts of provinces, territories and employers and avoid duplication;
- working with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to renew and improve the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy; and
- developing a framework to fund training facilities delivered in partnership with labour unions.
- Work with provinces and territories to make post-secondary education more affordable for students from low- and middle-income families. This would include:
- expanding the Canada Student Grant for low income students and increasing the income threshold for eligibility;
- making changes to the income thresholds in the Repayment Assistance Plan to ensure that no graduate with student loans will be required to make any repayment until they are earning at least $25,000 per year; and
- working collaboratively with provinces and territories to improve promotion of RESPs and Canada Learning Bonds, to make registration simpler, and to increase take up rates.
It is my expectation that you will undertake this work collaboratively and not compel other governments to take on new costs and provide appropriate compensation to provinces and territories that do not participate in the Canada Student Loans program.
I also expect you to work with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to fulfill our commitment to increase annual support to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program.
- Increase the number of good quality, permanent jobs for younger workers. This would include:
- increasing our investment in our Youth Employment Strategy and improving the strategy’s impact;
- working with the Minister of Finance to provide a 12-month break on Employment Insurance premiums for firms that hire new younger workers into permanent positions in 2016, 2017, or 2018;
- working with provinces, territories, and post-secondary institutions to develop or expand Pre-Apprenticeship Training Programs;
- working with me to develop a Youth Service Program; and
- working with the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie to integrate international opportunities into the Youth Service Program.
- Support the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development in developing a Poverty Reduction Strategy. This strategy would set targets to reduce poverty and measure and publicly report on our progress. Our strategy will align with and support existing provincial and municipal poverty reduction strategies. As part of this strategy, I will expect you to contribute initiatives to promote good quality jobs and decent work in Canada in response to the federal report: Fairness at Work: Federal Labour Standards for the 21st Century.
- Work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to fulfill our commitments to provide more generous and flexible leave for caregivers and more flexible parental leave.
- With support from the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, restore a fair and balanced approach to organized labour by repealing Bills C-377 and C-525 and implementing a modern Fair Wages Policy.
- Amend the Canada Labour Code to allow workers to formally request flexible work arrangements from their employers and consult with provinces and territories on the implementation of similar changes in provincially-regulated sectors.
- Work with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, employers and workers to determine an appropriate apprenticeship target for all federal infrastructure projects.
- Work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to develop a Social Innovation and Social Finance strategy.
- Work with the Minister of Science in efforts to help employers create more co-op placements for students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and business programs.
- Work with the Minister of Status of Women and other ministerial colleagues to take action to ensure that federal institutions are workplaces free from harassment and sexual violence.
- Work with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development to promote economic development and create jobs for Indigenous Peoples.
These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments. The government’s agenda will be further articulated through Cabinet discussions and in the Speech from the Throne when Parliament opens.
I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and his or her senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest. Your Deputy Minister will brief you on issues your department may be facing that may require decisions to be made quickly. It is my expectation that you will apply our values and principles to these decisions, so that issues facing your department are dealt with in a timely and responsible manner, and in a way that is consistent with the overall direction of our government.
Our ability, as a government, to successfully implement our platform depends on our ability to thoughtfully consider the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants. Each and every time a government employee comes to work, they do so in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians. I expect you to establish a collaborative working relationship with your Deputy Minister, whose role, and the role of public servants under his or her direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.
In the coming weeks, the Privy Council Office (PCO) will be contacting you to set up a meeting with PCO officials, your Deputy Minister and the Prime Minister’s Office to further discuss your plans, commitments and priorities.
We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. When dealing with our Cabinet colleagues, Parliament, stakeholders, or the public, it is important that your behaviour and decisions meet Canadians’ well-founded expectations of our government. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.
As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines. You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities. I ask that you carefully read it and ensure that your staff does so as well. I draw your attention in particular to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law. Please also review the areas of Open and Accountable Government that we have expanded or strengthened, including the guidance on non-partisan use of departmental communications resources and the new code of conduct for exempt staff.
I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. In turn, please know that you can count on me to support you every day in your role as Minister.
I am deeply grateful to have this opportunity to serve with you as we build an even greater country. Together, we will work tirelessly to honour the trust Canadians have given us.
Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada