Dear Ms. McKenna:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities.
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 Infrastructure and Communities, you will lead work to implement the Government’s historic Investing in Canada Plan. This includes working directly with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, as well as Indigenous communities, as federal investments in social, green and public transit infrastructure move forward.
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:
- Continue to work with other Members of Parliament to implement the Investing in Canada Plan. Your focus must be on the successful, timely delivery of our growth-generating investments in public transit, green infrastructure and social infrastructure, as well as key strategic infrastructure that will increase trade. The key objectives of this plan are increasing economic growth and creating good middle class jobs with infrastructure that improves people’s quality of life.
- Require that all provinces and territories identify and approve all of their long-term infrastructure priorities within the next two years and according to the signed bilateral agreements. Funds that are not designated for specific approved projects by the end of 2021 will be reinvested directly in communities through a top up of the federal Gas Tax Fund.
- Create a National Infrastructure Fund to seek out and support major nation-building projects that will benefit people across various regions, connect our country and improve quality of life. This should start by supporting the Newfoundland-Labrador fixed transportation link.
- Finalize the creation of an additional infrastructure fund by 2020-2021 to support priority projects and economic diversification for communities transitioning from fossil fuels.
- Make the federal commitment to fund public transit permanent and rise with the cost of construction over time. Ensure that new federal investments in public transit are used to support zero-emission buses and rail systems starting in 2023 and work with municipalities to address any exceptional circumstances.
- Work with provinces and territories to introduce new funding to help school boards and municipalities purchase 5,000 zero-emission school and transit buses over the next five years.
- Launch a new call for proposals under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund to address the impacts of climate change, adjusting the program as required to ensure that the most impactful projects are supported, including those related to natural infrastructure, whether they are from small, rural and Indigenous communities or large urban centres.
- Ensure that Canadians have access to accurate and timely information about infrastructure investments in their communities, and work with your Cabinet colleagues to improve financial reporting to Canadians and the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
- You are the Minister responsible for the arm’s-length Canada Infrastructure Bank, now fully operational. With the support of the Minister of Finance, ensure the Bank has the support it needs for its core purpose of attracting private sector and institutional investment to expand the scope of public infrastructure investment in Canada, in line with the Government’s public policy objectives. In particular:
- With the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, and with the support of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage, work with the Bank to deliver high-speed internet to 100 per cent of Canadian homes and businesses by 2030.
- Move forward with a Clean Power Fund, sourced through the Canada Infrastructure Bank, to help finance the development and linking of clean energy to transmission systems and to support the transition of northern, remote and Indigenous communities from reliance on diesel-fueled power to clean, renewable and reliable energy. The Clean Power Fund will contribute to the achievement of Canada’s climate goals, helping move more electricity between provinces and regions and supporting the electrification of Canadian industries.
- Continue progress on priority bridges: completing the toll-free replacement for the Champlain Bridge; working with the Minister of Transport, the Canadian National Railway Company and the Government of Québec to begin the rehabilitation of the Pont de Québec; and supporting the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority as it advances the construction of the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
- Work with the Minister of Indigenous Services to co-develop and invest in distinctions-based community infrastructure plans, and move forward with addressing critical needs including housing, all-weather roads, high-speed internet, health facilities, treatment centres and schools in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities by 2030. These plans should also include new investments to support the operation and maintenance of this infrastructure.
- Work with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities through the Green Municipal Fund, the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program and the Municipal Asset Management Program to build climate resilience, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, make better decisions, and monitor investments and ensure they reduce emissions from residential, commercial and multi-unit buildings.
- Work with international partners to share best practices around the leveraging of infrastructure to contribute to innovation, resilience and a low-carbon future, supporting the creation of Canadian jobs and attracting infrastructure investment into Canada.
- Support the Minister of Transport, in his capacity as Minister responsible for VIA Rail, to create high frequency rail for the Toronto-Quebec City corridor.
- Support the Minister of Transport to invest in Canada’s trade corridors to increase global market access for Canadian goods.
- Support the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to 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.
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