Dear Minister Vandal:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.
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 Northern Affairs, you will continue to prioritize the implementation of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, including to advance key initiatives to improve housing and food security and close the gap in education outcomes. You will also continue to prioritize work on devolution. As the Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, you will build the strength and capacity of the Agencies and 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.
- With the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Minister of Indigenous Services, 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.
- Support the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion in their work to co-develop an Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy, a stand-alone companion to the National Housing Strategy, supported by dedicated investments, and in the creation of Canada’s first-ever National Indigenous Housing Centre.
- Working in partnership with Indigenous Peoples, Inuit, First Nations and Métis and territorial and provincial governments, continue to implement and advance key priorities of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework.
- Continue to support territorial planning for hydroelectricity projects and other forms of renewable energy (e.g., wind and solar) and invest in renewable, sustainable and affordable sources of energy.
- Continue to support the Task Force on Northern Post-Secondary Education and with the benefit of its recommendations, advance measures to close the gaps in education outcomes and provide ongoing learning and skills development opportunities.
- Continue to work with Inuit to improve food security in Inuit Nunangat, including through the Harvesters Support Grant and the Nutrition North Canada program, amended to make it more transparent and responsive to Inuit needs. You will be supported by the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.
- Continue to support Inuit-specific approaches through work with Inuit and the provincial and territorial governments, on the elimination of tuberculosis in Inuit Nunangat.
- Continue work with Inuit and the Government of Nunavut to finalize a co-developed Nunavut Devolution Final Agreement.
- Work with the Minister of National Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and partners to defend Arctic sovereignty and implement the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework to create a future where Canada’s Northern and Arctic residents, especially Indigenous Peoples are thriving, strong and safe. You will ensure that Indigenous Peoples and Northern communities are meaningfully consulted on its development and benefit from this work.
- In close collaboration with the Minister of Indigenous Services, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations 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.
- Ensure the continued strength of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Prairies Economic Development Canada and that they continue to promote short- and long-term job creation and economic development in the Northern and Prairie regions, 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.
- Contribute to the design and delivery of the new Futures Fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland and Labrador to ensure that it supports local and regional economic diversification and place-based strategies.
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