Dear Ms. Monsef:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic 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 for Women and Gender Equality, I expect you to drive systemic change that promotes a fairer and more productive society for women by improving quality of life, advancing leadership and addressing gender-based violence. You will lead a coordinated whole-of-government approach to promote a greater understanding of the intersection of sex and gender with other factors, which will result in more responsive federal policies and programs that systematically consider the needs of different groups of people, including men and boys. As Minister of Rural Economic Development, you will champion economic opportunity, quality of life and middle class job creation in rural Canada. You will continue to ensure that a rural lens is applied to policy issues in these areas.
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 establish and strengthen your important department, including by renewing our commitment to a Federal Plan for Gender Equality, a strategy built on the Gender Results Framework and other international agreements.
- Work to ensure that rigorous Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) is performed on all Cabinet proposals from every department.
- Continue to work with the Minister of Finance and work with the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth to improve the quality and scope of GBA+ in future budgets.
- Support the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations to continue to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
- Make additional investments, with the support of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, to build on the foundation laid by the Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence and move forward to develop a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence, with a focus on ensuring that anyone facing gender-based violence has reliable and timely access to protection and services.
- Work to sustain historic Government funding commitments to Canadian women’s organizations and equality-seeking groups, with a particular focus on vulnerable women, including Indigenous women, women with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ2 communities and newcomer, racialized and migrant women.
- Support the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of International Development in continuing work on gender equality abroad, including working with the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council and on global feminist initiatives.
- Continue to collaborate with women’s movements, organizations, experts and advocates on matters of public policy relating to women and gender equality.
- Support community action to tackle systemic barriers impeding women’s progress, while recognizing and addressing the diverse experiences of gender and inequality across the country.
- Support the Minister of Health in the creation of a National Institute for Women’s Health Research, to tackle persistent gaps in research and care, and to advance an intersectional approach.
- Work with the President of the Treasury Board and with me to increase the number of women in senior decision-making positions across government, particularly in central agencies and in our security services, and with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to support continued gender equality and diversity in Canadian companies.
- Support the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development in providing more accessible and affordable childcare including the creation of a national secretariat that will lay the groundwork for a pan-Canadian childcare system. In addition, continue to work with the Minister to ensure that, through the National Housing Strategy, Canadians including women and girls, can access housing that is affordable and meets their needs.
- Support the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion and the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to develop a Guaranteed Paid Family Leave program.
- Implement the Rural Economic Development Strategy for Canada. This strategy will capitalize on the enormous opportunity vibrant rural economies and communities represent to strengthen the middle class and enhance economic growth for Canada.
- Work with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to increase high-speed broadband coverage in rural Canada by leading the rollout of existing investments, developing and implementing programming towards further improvements and ensuring that investments by the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial partners and the private sector are coordinated to best prepare rural Canada for success in the digital economy.
- Lead the rollout of rural infrastructure investments and implementation, in addition to supporting the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities as part of the overall Investing in Canada Plan.
- Lead work directly with rural communities to address barriers to timely delivery of infrastructure investments and ensure transparent information for citizens.
- Support the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to ensure that social infrastructure investments are meeting the economic needs of rural communities, including affordable housing, early learning and childcare and the delivery of Service Canada programming.
- Support the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to improve Canada Post services in rural and remote areas.
- Support the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages in the delivery of strategic investments by the Regional Development Agencies focused on rural economic development.
- Support the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship on pilot programming to encourage more newcomers to settle in rural Canada.
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