Dear Mr. Hussen:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
On Election Day, Canadians chose to continue moving forward. From coast to coast to coast, people chose to invest in their families and communities, create good middle class jobs and fight climate change while keeping our economy strong and growing. Canadians sent the message that they want us to work together to make progress on the issues that matter most, from making their lives more affordable and strengthening the healthcare system, to protecting the environment, keeping our communities safe and moving forward on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. People expect Parliamentarians to work together to deliver these results, and that’s exactly what this team will do.
It is more important than ever for Canadians to unite and build a stronger, more inclusive and more resilient country. The Government of Canada is the central institution to promote that unity of purpose and, as a Minister in that Government, you have a personal duty and responsibility to fulfill that objective.
That starts with a commitment to govern in a positive, open and collaborative way. Our platform, Forward: A Real Plan for the Middle Class, is the starting point for our Government. I expect us to work with Parliament to deliver on our commitments. Other issues and ideas will arise or will come from Canadians, Parliament, stakeholders and the public service. It is my expectation that you will engage constructively and thoughtfully and add priorities to the Government’s agenda when appropriate. Where legislation is required, you will need to work with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Cabinet Committee on Operations to prioritize within the minority Parliament.
We will continue to deliver real results and effective government to Canadians. This includes: tracking and publicly reporting on the progress of our commitments; assessing the effectiveness of our work; aligning our resources with priorities; and adapting to events as they unfold, in order to get the results Canadians rightly demand of us.
Many of our most important commitments require partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners, communities and governments. Even where disagreements may occur, we will remember that our mandate comes from citizens who are served by all orders of government and it is in everyone’s interest that we work together to find common ground. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is the Government-wide lead on all relations with the provinces and territories.
There remains no more important relationship to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. We made significant progress in our last mandate on supporting self-determination, improving service delivery and advancing reconciliation. I am directing every single Minister to determine what they can do in their specific portfolio to accelerate and build on the progress we have made with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
I also expect us to continue to raise the bar on openness, effectiveness and transparency in government. This means a government that is open by default. It means better digital capacity and services for Canadians. It means a strong and resilient public service. It also means humility and continuing to acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect; they expect us to be diligent, honest, open and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.
As Minister, you are accountable for your style of leadership and your ability to work constructively in Parliament. I expect that you will collaborate closely with your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. You will also meaningfully engage with the Government Caucus and Opposition Members of Parliament, the increasingly non-partisan Senate, and Parliamentary Committees.
It is also your responsibility to substantively engage with Canadians, civil society and stakeholders, including businesses of all sizes, organized labour, the broader public sector and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors. You must be proactive in ensuring that a broad array of voices provides you with advice, in both official languages, from every region of the country.
We are committed to evidence-based decision-making that takes into consideration the impacts of policies on all Canadians and fully defends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You will apply Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the decisions that you make.
Canada’s media and your engagement with them in a professional and timely manner are essential. The Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, ask necessary questions and contribute in an important way to the democratic process.
You will do your part to continue our Government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure that people of all gender identities, Indigenous Peoples, racialized people, persons with disabilities and minority groups are reflected in positions of leadership.
As Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, you will advance measures to increase Canadians’ economic and social security, recognizing that policies and programs for the middle class and those people working hard to join it are key drivers of a strong economy overall. You are also lead Minister for the Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy, the National Housing Strategy and Service Canada.
I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities. In particular, you will:
- As the Minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), ensure the effective implementation of the new First-Time Home Buyer Incentive and increase the qualifying value in places where houses cost more like the Greater Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria regions. As market dynamics change in different regions, the program should adjust to reflect those realities.
- With the support of the Minister of Finance and working with provinces and territories, ensure the effective implementation of the Canada Housing Benefit.
- Building on our historic investment of $13 billion, including the creation of 41,800 new units and the repair of another 229,600 units, continue to build and renovate housing through the National Housing Strategy.
- To help families when the costs of raising kids are highest, starting next summer, increase the Canada Child Benefit by 15 per cent for children under the age of 1.
- Work with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to develop a Guaranteed Paid Family Leave program. Together, you will improve and integrate the existing Employment Insurance-based system of maternity and parental benefits, as well as the Canada Child Benefit, with a guaranteed income during the first year of a child’s life; and work with Quebec on effective integration with its own parental benefits system.
- Work with the provinces and territories to invest in the creation of up to 250,000 additional before- and after-school spaces for kids under 10. At least 10 per cent of these new spaces should allow for care during extended hours. You will also invest in lowering child care fees for before- and after-school programs by 10 per cent.
- Work with the provinces and territories to provide more support for early childhood educators. This includes lowering costs for those getting their early childhood educator degree and/or additional training.
- Work with the provinces and territories to create a national secretariat to lay the groundwork for a pan-Canadian childcare system.
- Support the Minister of Indigenous Services to address critical infrastructure needs in Indigenous communities, including the development of a distinctions-based urban Indigenous housing strategy.
- Support the Minister of Veterans Affairs on the issue of Veterans’ housing.
- Support the Minister of Seniors in reviewing the government’s capacity to connect seniors to benefits and programs for which they are eligible.
- As the Minister responsible for CMHC, work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to create a new low-cost national flood insurance program to protect homeowners at high risk of flooding and without adequate insurance protection, as well as to develop a national action plan to assist homeowners with potential relocation for those at the highest risk of repeat flooding.
- As the Minister responsible for CMHC, support the Minister of Natural Resources to operationalize a plan to help Canadians make their homes more energy efficient and climate resilient. This will include providing free energy audits to homeowners and landlords, up to $40,000 in interest-free lending for retrofits that will save Canadians money on their energy use, a cash incentive for borrowers to maximize their energy savings, and creating a Net Zero Homes Grant of up to $5,000 for newly built homes that are certified zero-emissions.
- Lead the expansion and improvement of the services provided by Service Canada with support from the Minister of Digital Government.
- Work with the Minister of National Revenue and the Minister of Digital Government to implement a voluntary, real-time e-payroll system with an initial focus on small businesses.
- Lead the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted at the United Nations.
- In collaboration with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, finalize the design and implementation of the Housing Supply Challenge. The design should include a detailed outreach plan to municipalities, which are the main stakeholders targeted by the challenge.
- Support the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth on the delivery of cross-government programming in support of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent.
These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments. As mentioned, you are encouraged to seek opportunities to work across Parliament in the fulfillment of these commitments and to identify additional priorities.
I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and their senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest. Your Deputy Minister will brief you on the many daily decisions necessary to ensure the achievement of your priorities, the effective running of the government and better services for Canadians. It is my expectation that you will apply our values and principles to these decisions so that they are dealt with in a timely and responsible manner and in a way that is consistent with the overall direction of our Government.
Our ability, as a government, to implement our priorities depends on consideration of the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants. Each and every time a government employee comes to work, they do so in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians. I expect you to establish a collaborative working relationship with your Deputy Minister, whose role, and the role of public servants under their direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.
We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.
As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines. You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities. I ask that you carefully read it, including elements that have been added to strengthen it, and ensure that your staff does so as well. I expect that in staffing your offices you will hire people who reflect the diversity of Canada, and that you will uphold principles of gender equality, disability equality, pay equity and inclusion.
Give particular attention to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law.
I will note that you are responsible for ensuring that your Minister’s Office meets the highest standards of professionalism and that it is a safe, respectful, rewarding and welcoming place for your staff to work.
I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. It is incumbent on you 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