Dear Mr. Miller:
Thank you for continuing to serve Canadians as Minister of Indigenous Services.
Since my previous mandate letter to you, our country has been confronted by the most serious public health crisis we have ever faced. The global pandemic has had devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods and exposed fundamental gaps in our society. Challenges that existed before the pandemic remain and others have been exacerbated. In light of these realities, I am issuing this supplementary letter to outline further responsibilities and considerations that I expect you to undertake on behalf of Canadians. Nothing in this letter replaces any previous commitments or expectations. It is necessary for us to continue making progress on the commitments laid out in 2019, while ensuring our actions are centred on fighting the pandemic and building back better.
Even as we continue to distribute vaccines across Canada, bold action continues to be required to fight this pandemic, save lives, support people and businesses throughout the remainder of this crisis and build back better. We need to work together to protect and create jobs, and to rebuild our country in a way that will create long-term competitiveness through clean growth. As articulated in the Speech from the Throne 2020 and Fall Economic Statement 2020, our four main priorities for making tangible progress for Canadians continue to be: protecting public health; ensuring a strong economic recovery; promoting a cleaner environment; and standing up for fairness and equality.
Ongoing struggles around the world – and here at home – remind us of how important it is to keep working toward a brighter future. We are at a crossroads and must keep moving Canada forward to become stronger, more inclusive, and more resilient. It is part of your job to look out for Canadians, with particular attention to our most vulnerable.
We need to continue delivering on our commitments by working together in a positive, open and collaborative way with Parliamentarians, with partners and with all Canadians. Where legislation is required, I expect you to continue working with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to make progress for Canadians within this minority Parliament.
To be ready for what lies ahead, our Government must continue to be agile and use the best available science and evidence. Canadians are counting on us to ensure that today’s policies, programs and services are calibrated and targeted to match their needs. Therefore, I expect you to uphold our ongoing commitment to delivering real results and effective government for the people we are elected to serve.
Many of our most important commitments continue to require a sustained partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, and Indigenous partners, communities and governments. Always remember that our mandate comes from citizens who are served by all orders of government, and that it is in everyone’s interest that we work together to find common ground and make life better for Canadians. The President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada 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. With respect and dignity, we remain committed to moving forward along the shared path of reconciliation. You, and indeed all ministers, must continue to play a role in helping to advance self-determination, close socio-economic gaps and eliminate systemic barriers facing First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. As Minister, I expect you to work in full partnership with Indigenous Peoples and communities to advance meaningful reconciliation.
The Government has significantly increased spending during the pandemic in order to achieve our most pressing priority: to help protect Canadians’ health and financial security. Going forward, we must preserve Canada’s fiscal advantage and continue to be guided by values of sustainability and prudence. Therefore, our actions must focus on creating new jobs and supporting the middle class to preserve the strength of our economy.
While fighting the pandemic must be our top priority, climate change still threatens our health, economy, way of life and planet. Clean growth is the best way to create good jobs and power our long-term economic recovery. I expect you and all ministers to pursue complementary partnerships and initiatives that will support our work to exceed our emissions reduction target, seize new market opportunities to create good jobs and prepare our country to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
We remain 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 and consider public policies through an intersectional lens in order to address systemic inequities including: systemic racism; unconscious bias; gender-based discrimination; barriers for persons with disabilities; discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities; and inequities faced by all vulnerable populations. Whenever possible, you will work to improve the quality and availability of disaggregated data to ensure that policy decisions benefit all communities.
It is clear that this pandemic has disproportionately affected different communities throughout our country. Therefore, we must ensure our recovery includes all Canadians, with an emphasis on supporting those most affected. To this end, I expect that you will seek the advice and hear the perspectives of a diverse group of Canadians, in both official languages. Moreover, you will continue to rely on and develop meaningful relationships with civil society and stakeholders, including businesses of all sizes, organized labour, the broader public sector and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors across Canada.
Now more than ever, Canadians are relying on journalists and journalism for accurate and timely news, especially in the face of a concerning spread of misinformation. I expect you to foster a professional and respectful relationship with journalists to ensure that Canadians have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.
Our ability to implement our Government’s priorities depends on consideration of the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants. Government employees perform their duties in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians. I expect you to maintain a collaborative working relationship with your Deputy Minister, whose role, like the role of the public servants under their direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.
Important ministerial responsibilities have been entrusted to you, notably delivering on the Government’s commitments that were set out in your 2019 mandate letter. I expect that you will keep me updated and proactively communicate with Canadians on the progress you are making toward our priorities. Always know that you can turn to me, and the Deputy Prime Minister, at any time for support.
In addition to the priorities set out in my mandate letter to you in 2019, as Minister of Indigenous Services, you will implement on a priority basis the following commitments, as set out in the Speech from the Throne 2020 and building off the investments in the Fall Economic Statement 2020:
- Work in close collaboration with the Minister of Health, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry on the ongoing work with provinces and territories and Indigenous leaders to ensure COVID-19 vaccines continue to be efficiently and widely distributed to Canadians once they are ready.
- Expedite work to co-develop distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation, as well as a distinctions-based mental health and wellness strategy, and work with partners to address systemic racism in the healthcare system.
- Work with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, the Minister of Northern Affairs and the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations to continue to close the infrastructure gap in Indigenous communities, particularly with respect to affordable housing, working on a distinctions-basis with First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation to accelerate the Government’s 10-year commitment.
- Fulfill our commitment to eliminate all long-term drinking water advisories on reserve, and make additional resiliency investments in alignment with community priorities to ensure all First Nations communities have access to clean drinking water for generations to come.
- Work with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations to support additional capacity-building for First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation.
- Work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to accelerate work to co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing that recognizes First Nations policing as an essential service, and with interested communities to expand the number of communities served by First Nations policing, and support community safety and well-being projects in Indigenous communities.
- In collaboration with partners and working directly with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation partners, support the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food to address food insecurity in Canada, including through co-developed programs.
- Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to introduce legislation and make investments that take action to address systemic inequities in the criminal justice system.
- Support the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to develop an Indigenous Justice Strategy to address systemic discrimination and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system.
Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada