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Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario Mandate Letter

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December 16, 2021

Office of the Prime Minister

Dear Minister Hajdu:

Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario.

From the beginning of this pandemic, Canadians have faced a once-in-a-century challenge. And through it all, from coast to coast to coast, people have met the moment. When it mattered most, Canadians adapted, helped one another, and stayed true to our values of compassion, courage and determination. That is what has defined our path through this pandemic so far. And that is what will pave our way forward.

During a difficult time, Canadians made a democratic choice. They entrusted us to finish the fight against COVID-19 and support the recovery of a strong middle class. At the same time, they also gave us clear direction: to take bold, concrete action to build a healthier, more resilient future. That is what Canadians have asked us to do and it is exactly what our Government is ready to deliver. We will work to build that brighter future through continued collaboration, engagement, and the use of science and evidence-based decision-making. With an unwavering focus on delivering results, we will work constructively with Parliamentarians and maintain our strong partnerships with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners. This decade has had an incredibly difficult start, but this is the moment to rebuild a more resilient, inclusive and stronger country for everyone.

The science is clear. Canadians have been clear. We must not only continue taking real climate action, we must also move faster and go further. As Canadians are increasingly experiencing across the country, climate change is an existential threat. Building a cleaner, greener future will require a sustained and collaborative effort from all of us. As Minister, I expect you to seek opportunities within your portfolio to support our whole-of-government effort to reduce emissions, create clean jobs and address the climate-related challenges communities are already facing.

This year, Canadians were horrified by the discovery of unmarked graves and burial sites near former residential schools. These discoveries underscore that we must move faster on the path of reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. We know that reconciliation cannot come without truth and our Government will continue to invest in that truth. As Ministers, each of us has a duty to further this work, both collectively and as individuals. Consequently, I am directing every Minister to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to advance their rights.

We must continue to address the profound systemic inequities and disparities that remain present in the core fabric of our society, including our core institutions. To this effect, it is essential that Canadians in every region of the country see themselves reflected in our Government’s priorities and our work. As Minister, I expect you to include and collaborate with various communities, and actively seek out and incorporate in your work, the diverse views of Canadians. This includes women, Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, newcomers, faith-based communities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2 Canadians, and, in both official languages.

Across our work, we remain committed to ensuring that public policies are informed and developed through an intersectional lens, including applying frameworks such as Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) and the quality of life indicators in decision-making.

Canadians continue to rely on journalists and journalism for accurate and timely news. I expect you to maintain professional and respectful relationships with journalists to ensure that Canadians are well informed and have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.

Throughout the course of the pandemic, Canadians and their governments have adapted to new realities. Governments must draw on lessons learned from the pandemic to further adapt and develop more agile and effective ways to serve Canadians. To this end, I expect all Ministers to evaluate ways we can update our practices to ensure our Government continues to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.

The success of this Parliament will require Parliamentarians, both in the House of Commons and the Senate, to work together across all parties to get big things done for Canadians. I expect you to maintain constructive relationships with your Opposition Critics and coordinate any legislation with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. As Minister, you are accountable to Parliament both individually, for your style of leadership and the performance of your responsibilities, and collectively, in support of our Ministry and decisions taken by Cabinet. Open and Accountable Government sets out these core principles and the standards of conduct expected of you and your office. I expect you to familiarize yourself with this document, which outlines my expectations for each member of the Ministry.

Our platform lays out an ambitious agenda. While finishing the fight against the pandemic must remain our central focus, we must continue building a strong middle class and work toward a better future where everyone has a real and fair chance at success and no one is left behind.

As Minister of Indigenous Services, your immediate priority is to enhance opportunities for economic recovery and to continue delivering distinctions-based supports in response to COVID-19 as needed. To achieve equity, you will continue to collaborate with Indigenous partners—by working together to close socio-economic gaps and improve access to high-quality services. This includes continuing work to eliminate all remaining long-term drinking water advisories, and closing the infrastructure gap by 2030, with a focus on building sustainable and affordable housing. You will also ensure that the First Nations Child and Family Services program is reformed and will work in close cooperation with Indigenous partners and provinces and territories to implement An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families. In addition, you will continue to work with organizations that deliver services in urban settings for Indigenous populations that are responsive to needs. As the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario, you will ensure the continued strength of the Agency and continue to prioritize the delivery of support to small and medium-sized businesses and support job creation in communities recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To realize these objectives, I ask that you achieve results for Canadians by delivering the following commitments.

  • In close collaboration with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation, continue to deliver distinctions-based support in response to COVID-19.
  • With the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, and in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, continue to make immediate and long-term investments to support ongoing work to close the infrastructure gap by 2030, with a particular focus on expediting investments in Indigenous housing, with over half of the funding available by the upcoming summer construction period.
  • Renew and strengthen Canada’s relationship with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities to advance self-determination through strong economic recovery and growth, including ensuring accessibility of Indigenous business supports:
    • Expand the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program to enable businesses to access a new, zero-interest loan when a 10 per cent advance is not possible;
    • Create a navigator position to help Indigenous entrepreneurs find programs that apply to their situation; and
    • Work with other ministers to analyze and, as appropriate, adjust eligibility criteria to ensure that programs are as inclusive as possible.
  • Work with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations to address the history and legacy of residential schools, including by continuing to provide the necessary supports to communities who wish to continue to undertake the work of burial searches at the sites of former residential schools and other federally-run institutions, such as day schools and Indian hospitals.
  • Eliminate all remaining long-term drinking water advisories on reserve and make sure that long-term investments and resources are in place to prevent future ones, including by investing $6 billion to ensure sustainable access to clean water in First Nations communities.
  • Work with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation and provincial and territorial governments to continue to fully implement An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children, youth and families, providing long-term, predictable and sustainable funding to support communities looking to implement their jurisdiction for child and family services.
  • With the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, continue to work with First Nations partners to ensure fair and equitable compensation for those harmed by the First Nations Child and Family Services program and to ensure the long-term reform of child and family services in First Nations communities, including to help children and families stay together and providing First Nations youth who reach the age of majority the supports they need for up to two additional years.
  • Continue to make sure that Indigenous children get the care they need:
    • Continue to fully fund Jordan’s Principle;
    • Continue to fully fund the Inuit Child First Initiative; and
    • Continue to work with the Métis Nation to fund the unique needs of Métis children.
  • Support the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations to continue to accelerate the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
  • Support the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations to address violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people by accelerating the implementation of the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, and to support the implementation of the 2021 MMIWG and 2SLGBTQQIA+ National Action Plan.
  • Continue to support First Nation-led processes to transition away from the Indian Act. Work with communities and institutions to invest in capacity building initiatives that support and advance self-determination like the 10-year Grant. Advance the priorities of Indigenous communities to reclaim full jurisdiction in the areas that matter to them, such as child and family services, education, health care, policing, tax and the administration of justice.
  • Support the Minister of Public Safety in their work with First Nations partners to co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing, and on continuing to engage with Inuit and Métis on policing matters.
  • Fully implement Joyce’s Principle and ensure it guides work to co-develop distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation to foster health systems that will respect and ensure the safety and well-being of Indigenous Peoples.
  • With the support of the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, co-develop and invest in a distinctions based Mental Health and Wellness Strategy to meet the needs of First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation, including culturally appropriate wraparound services for addictions and trauma, suicide and life promotion and the building of treatment centres.
  • Co-develop a distinctions-based Indigenous Long-term and Continuing Care Framework to ensure Indigenous Peoples can receive these services in or near their own communities and bolster Indigenous health system navigators to provide dedicated support for Indigenous people and their families to navigate services related to long-term and continuing care.
  • Support the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada in fully implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act across government.
  • In close collaboration with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Minister of Northern Affairs and the President of the Queen’s Privy Council and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, work with First Nations and provincial and territorial government partners to strengthen the governance and service delivery for First Nations emergency preparedness, management and recovery.
  • In collaboration with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, continue to work in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation to address climate change and its impacts, and chart collaborative strategies.
  • Ensure the standalone Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario continues to promote short- and long-term job creation and economic development in Northern Ontario, particularly through the delivery of regionally tailored programs, services, knowledge and expertise, so that all regions, and in particular rural and small communities, have access to place-based programming and support. In doing so, you will regularly engage with the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, as well as with the Ministers responsible for the other Regional Development Agencies.

As Minister, you are also responsible for actively engaging with your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. As we deliver on our platform commitments, it will be important that members of the Ministry continue to collaborate and work constructively to support rigorous and productive Cabinet decision-making. I expect you to support your colleagues in delivering their commitments, leveraging the expertise of your department and your own lived experiences.

To best achieve results for Canadians, Ministers must be rigorous and coordinated in our approach to implementation. I would therefore ask that you return to me with a proposed approach for the delivery of your mandate commitments, including priorities for early implementation. Furthermore, to ensure we are accountable for our work, I will be asking you to publicly report to me, and all Canadians, on your progress toward these commitments on a regular basis.

As we have been reminded throughout the pandemic, adapting to change is not only something government should do, it is something government must do. As you work to fulfil our commitments, I expect you to actively consider new ideas and issues as they emerge, whether through public engagement, your work with Parliamentarians or advice from the public service. I also expect you to work with your Deputy Minister to assess priorities on a continual basis as we build a better future for all Canadians. In addition to achieving results, you are responsible for overseeing the work of your department and ensuring the effective operation of your portfolio.

As you staff your office and implement outreach and recruitment strategies for federally appointed leadership positions and boards, I ask that you uphold the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion. This helps ensure that federal workplaces are dynamic and reflective of the Canadians we serve. You will also ensure your Minister’s office and portfolio are reflective of our commitment to healthy and safe workplaces.

Canadians expect us to work hard, speak truthfully and be committed to advancing their interests and aspirations. When we make mistakes – as we all will – Canadians expect us to acknowledge them, and most importantly, to learn from them.

I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you, and to turn to me, and the Deputy Prime Minister, early and often to support you in your role as Minister.


Prime Minister of Canada signature

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada