Dear Ms. Hajdu:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Health.
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 Health, you will lead the Government’s work to strengthen public health care, an anchor of Canadians’ social and economic security. This work will include ensuring greater access to doctors or primary health teams, setting national standards for mental health access, supporting home care and palliative care, and implementing national universal pharmacare.
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:
- Lead work, with the support of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Seniors, to strengthen Medicare and renew our health agreements with the provinces and territories in four priority areas:
- Ensure that every Canadian has access to a family doctor or primary health care team;
- Set national standards for access to mental health services so Canadians can get fast access to the support they need, when they need it;
- Continue to make home care and palliative care more available across the country; and
- Continue to implement national universal pharmacare, including the establishment of the Canada Drug Agency, and implementing a national formulary and a rare disease drug strategy to help Canadian families save money on high-cost drugs.
- Consider amendments to the Canada Health Act to achieve progress on these priorities, including new accountability standards so that Canadians can know what to expect from the public health system when they need it.
- Continue to ensure compliance with the Canada Health Act on matters of private delivery and extra billing.
- Work closely with other orders of government, as well as substance use experts, service providers, first responders, law enforcement and people with lived and living experience in order to ensure Canada’s response to the current opioid crisis is robust, well-coordinated and effective:
- Work with the provinces and territories on new investments that expand community-based services, build more in-patient rehabilitation beds, and scale up the most effective programs such as extending hours for safe consumption sites.
- Ensure that Canadians have access to the medicines they need by taking action with manufacturers, provinces and territories and other stakeholders to address drug shortages.
- Promote healthy eating, including continuing work to introduce new restrictions on the commercial marketing of food and beverages to children and establishing new front-of-package labelling.
- In cooperation with other orders of government and key stakeholders, address the rapid rise in youth vaping. This should start with regulations to reduce the promotion and appeal of vaping products to young people and public education to create awareness of health risks. You are encouraged to explore additional measures.
- Work collaboratively with provinces, territories, families and stakeholders toward the creation of a national autism strategy.
- Make new investments in pediatric cancer research and develop a long-term plan to ensure sustainable funding.
- Work with Parliament to study and analyze the possibility of national dental care.
- Work with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to integrate sex- and gender-based analyses, as well as diversity analyses, to ensure research takes diversity factors into account to improve women’s health care.
- Provide additional funding to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research so that it can create academic research grants for studies on race, diversity and gender.
- Create a National Institute for Women’s Health Research, with the support of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, that will bring together experts in women’s health from across the country to tackle persistent gaps in research and care using an intersectional approach.
- In order to realize and protect women’s sexual and reproductive health rights, ensure that Canadians have access to the full suite of reproductive services and medications across the country.
- Work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to continue to implement the strict regulation of cannabis across Canada. Your key priorities are public safety, responsible usage and keeping cannabis away from children.
- Work with the Minister of Canadian Heritage to implement a pan-Canadian Concussion Strategy and raise awareness for parents, coaches and athletes on concussion treatment.
- Work with the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, and in partnership with Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec, to build on existing progress to implement a behaviour-based model of donation that eliminates the blood ban for men who have sex with other men.
- Support the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada in working with provinces and territories to respond to the recent court ruling regarding the medical assistance in dying framework.
- With the support of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, work to ensure that the Pest Management Regulatory Agency makes timely science-based decisions to support the safe and sustainable use of effective pesticide products in Canada.
- Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to better protect people and the environment from toxins and other pollution, including by strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
- Working with the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, in your role as the Minister responsible for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, develop a boat-to-plate traceability program to help Canadian fishers to better market their high-quality products.
- With the support of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, address the serious and growing public health threat of antimicrobial resistance by developing and implementing actions with partners to preserve the effectiveness of the antimicrobials that Canadians rely on every day.
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