Dear Minister Ien:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth.
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 for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, you will prioritize the development of a 10-year National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, the completion of Canada’s first Federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan and the continued implementation of the Youth Policy. You will likewise prioritize the creation of a new stream of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy for Canadians with disabilities. As you work to drive these priorities, you will continue to support all ministers as they work to advance gender equality and inclusion across their portfolios, with an emphasis on enhancing GBA Plus so that it better captures the lived experiences of all Canadians.
To realize these objectives, I ask that you achieve results for Canadians by delivering the following commitments.
- Continue to support ministers working to advance gender equality, notably as it relates to economic participation and prosperity, including economic recovery, leadership and democratic participation, and poverty reduction, health and well-being.
- Continue to sustain historic Government funding commitments to Canadian women’s organizations and equality-seeking groups, with a particular focus on Indigenous women, women with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ2 communities and newcomer, racialized and migrant women.
- Continue to collaborate with women’s movements, organizations, experts and advocates on matters of public policy relating to women and gender equality.
- Continue to lead the evaluation process of GBA Plus with the goal of enhancing the framing and parameters of this analytical tool and with particular attention to the intersectional analysis of race, indigeneity, rurality, disability and sexual identity, among other characteristics. You will be supported in this work by the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Minister of Rural Economic Development, the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.
As part of this work, you will continue to strengthen the Department for Women and Gender Equality as a centre of expertise for advancing gender equality and supporting the application of GBA Plus across government decision-making processes.
- Move forward with the development of a 10-year National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, begin negotiations with the provinces and territories within a year, and accelerate the establishment of a dedicated Secretariat.
- Support the Minister of National Defence in their work to end discrimination, sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the military.
- 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.
- Support the Minister of Public Safety in their work to accelerate action to reform the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
- Create a Menstrual Equity Fund for women’s shelters, not-for-profits, charities, community-based organizations and youth-led organizations to make menstrual products available to vulnerable women.
- Support the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Development in expanding Canada’s efforts to advance gender equality and LGBTQ2 rights abroad. This will include support for the work of global feminist initiatives, relevant international institutions and civil society partners, including the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council.
- Launch the Federal LGBTQ2 Action Plan and provide capacity funding to Canadian LGBTQ2 service organizations.
- Continue the work of the LGBTQ2 Secretariat in promoting LGBTQ2 equality at home and abroad, protecting LGBTQ2 rights and addressing discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities, building on the passage of Bill C-4, which criminalized conversion therapy.
- Support the Minister of Labour in their work to accelerate the review of the Employment Equity Act and ensure timely implementation of improvements.
- Continue to implement Canada’s Youth Policy and build upon the six priority areas included in Canada’s first State of Youth Report.
- Serve as Vice-Chair of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council and support its work so that the Prime Minister has an opportunity to draw advice from an engaged group of young Canadians.
- Continue scaling up youth and student skills and employment programming and initiatives for Canadian youth, and create a new stream of the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy for Canadians with disabilities.
- Continue to expand and diversify the Canada Service Corps.
- Support the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance in introducing amendments to the Income Tax Act to make anti-abortion organizations that provide dishonest counselling to pregnant women about their rights and options ineligible for charitable status, and to expand the Medical Expense Tax Credit to include costs reimbursed to surrogate mothers for IVF expenses.
- Support the Minister of Health in their work to ensure that all Canadians have access to the sexual and reproductive health services they need, no matter where they live, by reinforcing compliance under the Canada Health Act, developing a sexual and reproductive health rights information portal, supporting the establishment of mechanisms to help families cover the costs of in vitro fertilization and supporting youth-led grassroots organizations that respond to the unique sexual and reproductive health needs of young people.
- Support the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development to 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.
- Continue to support the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development in advancing the creation and sustainability of a Canada-wide Early Learning and Child Care system.
- Work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to ensure the voices and needs of children are represented in our Government’s agenda, working to make Canada the best place to grow up.
- Work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to ensure mental health supports are accessible to children and youth as they recover from the impact of the pandemic.
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