Dear Minister Wilkinson:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Natural Resources.
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 Natural Resources, you will prioritize moving forward with legislation and comprehensive action to achieve a Just Transition, ensuring support for communities to create more economic opportunities for workers and families into the future and in all regions of the country. You will work with partners to develop and implement strategies to decarbonize regional electricity systems, grow the market for clean fuels and transform Canada’s building stock for the climate era. You will likewise move early to launch a Critical Minerals Strategy, ensuring that Canada’s natural resources are developed sustainably, competitively and inclusively.
To realize these objectives, I ask that you achieve results for Canadians by delivering the following commitments.
- In support of Canada’s efforts to achieve a 100 per cent net-zero electricity system by 2035, with the support of the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, advance near-term consultations with provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to develop and implement strategies to decarbonize electricity systems. In support of this work, you will:
- Establish a Pan-Canadian Grid Council to promote infrastructure investments, smart grids, grid integration and electricity sector innovation;
- Work with Indigenous partners and communities to support the transformation from diesel-fueled power to clean, renewable and reliable energy by 2030; and
- Work to connect regions with carbon intensive electricity systems to more clean power by supporting transmission lines and the integration of renewables and clean fuels.
- Support efforts by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to cap oil and gas sector emissions at current levels and ensure that the sector makes an ambitious and achievable contribution to meeting the country’s 2030 climate goals. This effort will take into account the advice of the Net-Zero Advisory Body and others, including provinces and territories, Indigenous partners, industry and civil society, and require the oil and gas sector to reduce emissions at a pace and scale needed to align with the achievement of net-zero emissions by 2050, with five-year targets to stay on track.
- Support the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Minister of Environment and Climate Change to accelerate our G20 commitment to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from 2025 to 2023, and develop a plan to phase out public financing of the fossil fuel sector, including by federal Crown corporations.
- To support the future and livelihood of workers and their communities in the transition to a low carbon economy:
- Work with the Minister of Labour in moving forward with legislation and comprehensive action to achieve a Just Transition. This work will be guided by consultations with workers, unions, Indigenous Peoples, employers, communities and provinces and territories. You will be supported by the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion and Ministers responsible for Regional Development Agencies;
- Continue to deliver on investments to train workers and create opportunities for green jobs; and
- Increase inclusion in the clean energy workforce by creating more opportunities for women, LGBTQ2 and other under-represented people in the energy sector.
- Support the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry in the implementation of the Net Zero Accelerator Initiative, with emphasis on ensuring that investments drive industrial transition and significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions on a scale consistent with achieving Canada’s climate goals and meaningfully transform Canadian industry to lead and compete in a net-zero emissions future.
- 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.
- Work with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to establish a global centre for excellence on methane detection and elimination.
- Work with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to develop and launch a Canadian Critical Minerals Strategy to supply the green and digitized economy and improve critical minerals supply chain resiliency in collaboration with key trading partners, positioning Canada as the leading mining nation.
- Work with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to develop a sustainable battery innovation and industrial ecosystem in Canada, including to establish Canada as a global leader in battery manufacturing, recycling and reuse. In support of these efforts, you will work with stakeholders to identify new strategic priorities, including future battery types, ways to optimize batteries for cold weather performance and long-duration storage, and applications in heavy-duty transportation, and launch a Canada-U.S. Battery Alliance for stakeholders in both countries to identify shared priorities and create environmental requirements.
- Work with the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities and the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to introduce a new Buy Clean Strategy to support and prioritize the use of made-in-Canada low-carbon products in Canadian infrastructure projects.
- Reduce pollution from transportation by adding 50,000 new electric vehicle chargers and hydrogen stations to Canada’s network and supporting the installation of charging stations in existing buildings, and by making investments to retrofit large trucks currently on the road, and supporting the production, distribution and use of clean fuels, including low or zero carbon hydrogen.
- Work with provinces and territories, communities and Indigenous Peoples to develop and implement a National Net-Zero Emissions Building Strategy to achieve net-zero emissions from buildings by 2050, with interim milestones, that include accelerating net-zero emissions new builds and deep retrofits of existing buildings through codes and incentives, requiring EnerGuide labeling of homes at the time of sale, transitioning away from fossil-fuel home heating systems, and launching a community level net-zero emissions homes initiative.
- Work with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry on the development of model building codes, including publishing a net-zero emissions building code and model retrofit code by the end of 2024 that align with national climate objectives and provide a standard for climate-resilient buildings. You will also work to amend the National Building Code of Canada to specify firefighter and first responder safety as a core objective. To ensure effective implementation of these performance standards, work with partners to develop strategies around incentives, training programs and pilot initiatives.
- Help Canadians improve the energy efficiency and resiliency of their homes by providing grants of up to $5,000 for home retrofits through the Canada Greener Homes Grants Program and creating a Climate Adaptation Home Rating Program as a companion to the EnerGuide home energy audits to protect homeowners from the impacts of climate change.
- Building off successful investments in the Green Construction through Wood and Investments in Forest Industry Transformation programs, launch a Low-Carbon Building Materials Innovation Hub.
- Continue to implement the Natural Climate Solutions Fund and deliver on the plan to plant 2 billion trees across the country over 10 years as a nature-based solution to help reverse nature loss and fight climate change.
- Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to help protect old growth forests, notably in British Columbia, by advancing a nature agreement with B.C., establishing a $50 million B.C. Old Growth Nature Fund, and ensuring First Nations and Métis, local communities and workers are partners in shaping the path forward on nature protection.
- Support the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness to develop a climate data strategy to ensure that the private sector and communities have access to data to inform planning and infrastructure investments.
- Protect homes and communities from the impacts of climate change by completing work with provinces and territories to develop flood maps for higher-risk areas, advancing work to complete flood mapping nation-wide, supporting the development of a portal to provide centralized access to information on flood risks, and expanding the eligibility requirements of the Canada Greener Home Grants to include more climate resilience measures.
- Support the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities to build on the foundation of the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund and continue seeking opportunities to scale the construction of climate-resilient infrastructure across Canada, with a particular emphasis on communities most at risk.
- Work with the Minister of Public Safety and the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness to make our communities safe and increase forest resilience to wildfire, including training 1,000 new community-based firefighters, investing in equipment and other measures to reduce risks from wildfire and supporting fire management by Indigenous communities.
- Work with the President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness to take steps to establish an international centre of excellence in Canada focused on firefighter training and coordination and wildfire management, and to engage with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.
- Continue to develop a new national benefits-sharing framework to ensure that First Nations and Métis Nation communities directly benefit from major resource projects in their territories, and that Inuit communities benefit from major resource projects in Inuit Nunangat.
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.
Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada