Dear Minister Bibeau:
Thank you for continuing to serve Canadians as Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.
From the beginning of this pandemic, Canadians have faced a once-in-a-century challenge. And through it all, from coast to coast to coast, people have met the moment. When it mattered most, Canadians adapted, helped one another, and stayed true to our values of compassion, courage and determination. That is what has defined our path through this pandemic so far. And that is what will pave our way forward.
During a difficult time, Canadians made a democratic choice. They entrusted us to finish the fight against COVID-19 and support the recovery of a strong middle class. At the same time, they also gave us clear direction: to take bold, concrete action to build a healthier, more resilient future. That is what Canadians have asked us to do and it is exactly what our Government is ready to deliver. We will work to build that brighter future through continued collaboration, engagement, and the use of science and evidence-based decision-making. With an unwavering focus on delivering results, we will work constructively with Parliamentarians and maintain our strong partnerships with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners. This decade has had an incredibly difficult start, but this is the moment to rebuild a more resilient, inclusive and stronger country for everyone.
The science is clear. Canadians have been clear. We must not only continue taking real climate action, we must also move faster and go further. As Canadians are increasingly experiencing across the country, climate change is an existential threat. Building a cleaner, greener future will require a sustained and collaborative effort from all of us. As Minister, I expect you to seek opportunities within your portfolio to support our whole-of-government effort to reduce emissions, create clean jobs and address the climate-related challenges communities are already facing.
This year, Canadians were horrified by the discovery of unmarked graves and burial sites near former residential schools. These discoveries underscore that we must move faster on the path of reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. We know that reconciliation cannot come without truth and our Government will continue to invest in that truth. As Ministers, each of us has a duty to further this work, both collectively and as individuals. Consequently, I am directing every Minister to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to advance their rights.
We must continue to address the profound systemic inequities and disparities that remain present in the core fabric of our society, including our core institutions. To this effect, it is essential that Canadians in every region of the country see themselves reflected in our Government’s priorities and our work. As Minister, I expect you to include and collaborate with various communities, and actively seek out and incorporate in your work, the diverse views of Canadians. This includes women, Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized Canadians, newcomers, faith-based communities, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2 Canadians, and, in both official languages.
Across our work, we remain committed to ensuring that public policies are informed and developed through an intersectional lens, including applying frameworks such as Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA Plus) and the quality of life indicators in decision-making.
Canadians continue to rely on journalists and journalism for accurate and timely news. I expect you to maintain professional and respectful relationships with journalists to ensure that Canadians are well informed and have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.
Throughout the course of the pandemic, Canadians and their governments have adapted to new realities. Governments must draw on lessons learned from the pandemic to further adapt and develop more agile and effective ways to serve Canadians. To this end, I expect all Ministers to evaluate ways we can update our practices to ensure our Government continues to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow.
The success of this Parliament will require Parliamentarians, both in the House of Commons and the Senate, to work together across all parties to get big things done for Canadians. I expect you to maintain constructive relationships with your Opposition Critics and coordinate any legislation with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. As Minister, you are accountable to Parliament both individually, for your style of leadership and the performance of your responsibilities, and collectively, in support of our Ministry and decisions taken by Cabinet. Open and Accountable Government sets out these core principles and the standards of conduct expected of you and your office. I expect you to familiarize yourself with this document, which outlines my expectations for each member of the Ministry.
Our platform lays out an ambitious agenda. While finishing the fight against the pandemic must remain our central focus, we must continue building a strong middle class and work toward a better future where everyone has a real and fair chance at success and no one is left behind.
As Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, as an immediate priority, you will develop a sector-specific strategy to address persistent and chronic labour shortages in farming and food processing. You will also prioritize measures to support efficiency and climate-resiliency in the agriculture and food sector to strengthen food security and significantly cut agriculture’s environmental footprint, as well as working closely with provinces and territories and producers to support the sustainable growth of the agricultural and agri-food sectors, with an aim to establish Canada as a global leader in the sector. Furthermore, you will strengthen Canada’s food system, with particular emphasis on developing a National School Food Policy.
To realize these objectives, I ask that you achieve results for Canadians by delivering the following commitments.
- Work with provinces and territories to update business risk management programs, including to integrate climate risk management, environmental practices and climate readiness. Ensure that producers, including Indigenous, young and women farmers, have the opportunity to contribute.
- With the support of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, and in partnership with provinces and territories, employers, unions and workers, develop a sector-specific Agricultural Labour Strategy to address persistent and chronic labour shortages in farming and food processing in the short and long term.
- As part of a green agricultural plan for Canada, increase support to farmers to develop and adopt agricultural management practices to reduce emissions, store carbon in healthy soil and enhance resiliency; triple funding for clean tech on farms, including for renewable energy, precision agriculture and energy efficiency; and work with farmers and stakeholders to reduce methane and fertilizer emissions in the agricultural sector.
- Support the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to implement sector-based work permits and strengthen the inspection regime to ensure the health and safety of temporary foreign workers.
- With respect to pathways for agricultural temporary foreign workers, support the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to expand pathways to Permanent Residence for international students and temporary foreign workers through the Express Entry system.
- With the support of colleagues, take every necessary precaution to prevent the introduction of African swine fever within our borders, and continue to work with provinces and territories and industry stakeholders on prevention and preparedness measures, including a cost-shared response plan.
- Continue to protect supply-managed agricultural sectors, our family farms and the vitality of our rural areas, working with supply-managed sectors to provide full and fair compensation with respect to the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) and making this determination within the first year of our mandate. You will be supported in this work by the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development.
- Working with provincial and territorial governments, develop the next agricultural policy framework to continue to support the sustainable economic growth of the agriculture and agri-food sector, ensuring climate action and resilience are core to the framework.
- In support of A Food Policy for Canada, continue to strengthen Canada’s food system by:
- Working with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous partners and stakeholders to develop a National School Food Policy and to work toward a national school nutritious meal program; and
- Creating a No-Waste Food Fund to help all players along the food supply chain to commercialize and adopt ways to eliminate, reduce or repurpose food waste.
- Support the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and secure supply chains.
- Support food producers who choose alternative pest management approaches that reduce the need for chemical pesticides.
- Continue to explore next steps to modernize the Canada Grain Act and ensure it meets the needs of the sector now and in the future.
- Support the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to establish a Canada Water Agency and implement a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan, including a historic investment to provide funding to protect and restore large lakes and river systems, starting with the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River System, Lake Simcoe, the Lake Winnipeg Basin, the Fraser River Basin and the Mackenzie River Basin. Invest in the Experimental Lakes Area in northern Ontario to support international freshwater science and research.
- Ban the live export of horses for slaughter.
As Minister, you are also responsible for actively engaging with your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. As we deliver on our platform commitments, it will be important that members of the Ministry continue to collaborate and work constructively to support rigorous and productive Cabinet decision-making. I expect you to support your colleagues in delivering their commitments, leveraging the expertise of your department and your own lived experiences.
To best achieve results for Canadians, Ministers must be rigorous and coordinated in our approach to implementation. I would therefore ask that you return to me with a proposed approach for the delivery of your mandate commitments, including priorities for early implementation. Furthermore, to ensure we are accountable for our work, I will be asking you to publicly report to me, and all Canadians, on your progress toward these commitments on a regular basis.
As we have been reminded throughout the pandemic, adapting to change is not only something government should do, it is something government must do. As you work to fulfil our commitments, I expect you to actively consider new ideas and issues as they emerge, whether through public engagement, your work with Parliamentarians or advice from the public service. I also expect you to work with your Deputy Minister to assess priorities on a continual basis as we build a better future for all Canadians. In addition to achieving results, you are responsible for overseeing the work of your department and ensuring the effective operation of your portfolio.
As you staff your office and implement outreach and recruitment strategies for federally appointed leadership positions and boards, I ask that you uphold the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion. This helps ensure that federal workplaces are dynamic and reflective of the Canadians we serve. You will also ensure your Minister’s office and portfolio are reflective of our commitment to healthy and safe workplaces.
Canadians expect us to work hard, speak truthfully and be committed to advancing their interests and aspirations. When we make mistakes – as we all will – Canadians expect us to acknowledge them, and most importantly, to learn from them.
I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you, and 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
*This Ministerial Mandate Letter was signed by the Prime Minister in the Minister’s first official language.