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Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development Mandate Letter

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December 16, 2021

Office of the Prime Minister

Dear Minister Ng:

Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development.

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 International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, your immediate priority will be to strengthen and secure critical supply chains and advance Canada’s export diversification strategy. You will prioritize efforts to ensure that small businesses and communities in every region of the country have the tools and supports they need to recover, to innovate and grow, to create new jobs, and to seize the opportunities afforded by economic diversification. You will also work to design and launch the Futures Fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador, as a key element of our plan to support a Just Transition for workers, communities and industry. You will also work closely with Ministers responsible for Regional Development Agencies to promote coherence and effective collaboration. 

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

  • With the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, work to strengthen and secure supply chains, including through the Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership, and pursue opportunities more broadly for market diversification and trade facilitating infrastructure. Your efforts will be complemented by work led by the Minister of Transport to reduce and prevent supply chain bottlenecks in Canada’s transportation network. This work will be supported by the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
  • Continue to advance Canada’s global leadership on critical minerals by working with international partners and allies, including through implementation of the Canada–U.S. Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration and the Canada-EU Strategic Partnership on Raw Materials in order to develop and secure supply chains for the critical minerals needed to enable a transition to a low-carbon economy and support advanced technology and manufacturing. This work will be coordinated with the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
  • In collaboration with relevant ministers, lead Canada’s efforts to combat protectionism, unfair trade practices, and economic coercion around the world. You will work with international partners, advance our export diversification strategy, and ensure that Canadian workers and businesses receive necessary support. You will also engage the United States to address bilateral trade issues and protectionist measures, including with respect to government procurement and in the automotive, energy, and agricultural sectors.
  • Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to continue Canada’s leadership on the global effort to phase out coal-powered electricity and the mining of thermal coal and ban thermal coal exports from and through Canada as swiftly as possible, and no later than 2030.
  • Establish a new federal hub to help Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs take full advantage of the opportunities created by trade agreements.
  • Continue to implement the new Canada Digital Adoption Program to help small and medium-sized businesses seize the opportunities of the digital economy, including by:
    • Providing microgrants to smaller businesses to offset the costs of new technology;
    • Offering zero-interest loans to finance larger technology adoption projects; and
    • Creating training and work opportunities for as many as 28,000 young people so they can assist small and medium-sized businesses in adopting new technology.
  • Continue pursuing free trade opportunities and advancing Canada’s export diversification strategy for the benefit of Canadian consumers and businesses by:
    • Developing a strategy for economic cooperation across Africa, including support for the African Continental Free Trade Area, facilitation of increased infrastructure investment and expansion of partnerships in research and innovation;
    • Reinforcing economic cooperation in our hemisphere, including by continuing enhanced trade engagement with the Pacific Alliance and pursuing bilateral trade agreements with key partners;
    • Negotiating, as part of a new Indo-Pacific strategy, new bilateral and regional trade agreements, expanding Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements and building stronger economic linkages; and
    • Advancing negotiations with the United Kingdom towards a fully realized Canada-UK Trade Agreement.
  • Building off our success in negotiating new free trade agreements, lead their continued implementation to ensure they benefit Canadian consumers and businesses.
  • To protect Canadian supply chains and ensure that Canada’s trading relationships are mutually beneficial economic relationships, work with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to introduce a reciprocal procurement policy that will ensure goods and services are procured from countries that grant Canadian businesses a similar level of market access.
  • Continue to promote open and rules-based trade regimes around the globe, including by extending Canada’s leadership of the Ottawa Group on World Trade Organization reform and by advancing Canada’s inclusive free trade agenda.
  • Continue to advance foreign investment attraction measures that position Canada as a top destination for global investment and promote our economic brand, while balancing Canada’s national interests.
  • With the support of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, help Canadian cultural industries succeed at home and abroad by issuing a mandate to the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to support the growth of creative industries in existing and new markets.
  • To ensure that a whole-of-government approach is taken, support the Minister of Labour in introducing legislation to eradicate forced labour from Canadian supply chains and ensure that Canadian businesses operating abroad do not contribute to human rights abuses.
  • Enhance and expand Canada’s Responsible Business Conduct strategy and provide continued support to the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise to ensure Canadian companies and Crown corporations uphold the highest environmental and social standards of corporate governance.
  • In support of comprehensive action to achieve a Just Transition, help ensure that workers and communities prosper as we move to net-zero by working with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to establish a Futures Fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador that will support local and regional economic diversification and place-based strategies. You will be supported in this work by the Ministers responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Prairies Economic Development Canada, the Minister of Rural Economic Development and the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance.
  • Expand the Canada Small Business Financing Program to provide a greater range of supports to small businesses, including increased maximum loan amounts and loan coverage, expanded borrower eligibility to include non-profit and charitable social enterprises, a new line of credit, and expanded loan class eligibility to include lending against intellectual property and start-up assets and expenses.
  • Create a community stream to the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy’s Ecosystem Fund to support smaller community-level organizations providing mentorship to diverse women, and work to ensure the definition of ‘entrepreneur’ across government is inclusive and includes small and medium-sized businesses that operate in the care economy, retail and service sectors. You will be supported in this work by the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth.
  • Support the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry in helping to drive the development of Canadian clean technology companies and small and medium-sized enterprises working in the area of decarbonization.
  • Support the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to provide full and fair compensation to supply-managed sectors with respect to the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
  • Strengthen Canada’s economic recovery and the long-term economic development of regions across Canada by convening and coordinating the Ministers responsible for the Regional Development Agencies to promote a cohesive approach through the sharing of best practices and leverage expertise and capabilities, as appropriate.
  • Create a strategy to support entrepreneurs in official language minority communities through the Regional Development Agencies, working with the Minister of Official Languages and Ministers responsible for 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