Dear Minister Hussen:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion.
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 Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, your overarching goal is to help ensure Canadians can get a home of their own, through work to improve housing affordability and end chronic homelessness, and to champion the full breadth of our country's vibrant diversity through greater inclusion. Continuing the Government’s rights-based approach to housing, you will work with provinces, territories and municipalities to prioritize the launch of the new Housing Accelerator Fund and take action to protect consumers from anti-competitive practices in the real estate market. To help address critical gaps, you will likewise engage with Indigenous partners early to begin the co-development of an Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy. You will also lead a whole-of-government approach to build a more inclusive, equitable and just society, working to combat systemic racism, discrimination and xenophobia. This will include supporting all ministers to advance equality and inclusion within their portfolio and working across government and in close collaboration with communities to renew Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, including a National Action Plan on Combatting Hate.
To realize these objectives, I ask that you achieve results for Canadians by delivering the following commitments.
- Work with provinces, territories, municipalities and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to develop a Fairness in Real Estate Action Plan that includes:
- Amendments to the Income Tax Act to require landlords to disclose in their tax filings the rent they receive pre- and post-renovation and to pay a proportional surtax if the increase in rent is excessive;
- An anti-flipping tax on residential properties, requiring properties to be held for at least 12 months;
- A temporary ban on foreign buyers of non-recreational residential property in the Canadian housing market so that housing does not sit vacant and unavailable to Canadians;
- Supporting the review of, and possible reforms to, the tax treatment of Real Estate Investment Trusts;
- Developing policies to curb excessive profits in investment properties while protecting small independent landlords;
- Reviewing the down payment requirements for investment properties;
- Increased consumer protection and transparency in real estate transactions, including a ban on blind bidding;
- Identifying how federal regulators can be better positioned to respond to housing price fluctuations and to help ensure a more stable Canadian housing market; and
- Preventing “renovictions”.
- Invest in a new Housing Accelerator Fund to support municipalities in increasing the housing supply in Canada’s largest cities through measures such as inclusionary zoning, increased densification, reductions in construction approval timelines and the rapid development of vacant or underused lands.
- With the support of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, make critical investments and priority policy decisions to expand Canada’s housing supply, and continue to advance our investments in affordable housing and extend the model of co-operative housing to new communities.
- To help make it easier for renters to get on the path to home ownership, create a fund to test, develop and scale up rent-to-own projects across the country.
- As part of a renewed Anti-Racism Strategy, lead work across government to develop a National Action Plan on Combatting Hate, including actions on combatting hate crimes in Canada, training and tools for public safety agencies, and investments to support digital literacy, to prevent radicalization to violence and to protect vulnerable communities. You will be supported in this work by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and the Minister of Public Safety, among additional implicated ministers.
- Continue to strengthen and support the important work of the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat to ensure a whole-of-government approach in addressing systemic racism, including through increased resources.
- Swiftly move forward to implement the Black-led Philanthropic Endowment Fund to support Black-led and Black-serving community organizations.
- Support the conversion of empty office and retail space in the federal portfolio and in commercial buildings into market-based housing; work with municipalities to support a fast-track permitting system for conversions; and undertake reforms to the Rental Construction Financing Initiative to ensure the program is maximizing affordability, energy efficiency and accessibility outcomes, while processing applications in a more timely and transparent manner.
- Introduce enhancements to the Federal Lands Initiative to ensure the federal government is more effectively deploying its inventory of lands to advance the objectives of the National Housing Strategy.
- Increase funding to the National Housing Co-Investment Fund to help affordable housing providers acquire land and buildings to build and preserve more units, extend the model of co-operative housing to new communities, accelerate critical repairs and develop projects for vulnerable groups including women, youth and people with disabilities.
- Proceed with the appointment of a new Federal Housing Advocate to monitor progress in meeting the goals of the National Housing Strategy, including ending chronic homelessness, and move forward with our plan to invest in Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy, to support communities across the country.
- Accelerate our Government’s commitment to end chronic homelessness among Veterans through the Rapid Housing Initiative, a new rent supplement program, wrap around supports and a dedicated stream of funding for Veterans within the National Housing Co-Investment Fund. You will be supported in this work by the Minister of Veterans Affairs.
- With the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, and in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, continue to make immediate and long-term investments to support ongoing work to close the infrastructure gap by 2030, with a particular focus on expediting investments in Indigenous housing, with over half of the funding available by the upcoming summer construction period.
- With Indigenous partners, co-develop an Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy, a stand-alone companion to the National Housing Strategy, supported by dedicated investments, and create Canada’s first-ever National Indigenous Housing Centre. You will be supported in this work by the Minister of Northern Affairs.
- Expand the eligibility requirements of the deep home retrofit loan program to include more climate resilience measures, while also ensuring the program remains accessible to both individual homeowners and multi-unit residential buildings.
- Support the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth in the evaluation process of GBA Plus with the goal of enhancing the framing and parameters of this analytical tool and with particular attention to the intersectional analysis of race, indigeneity, rurality, disability and sexual identity, among other characteristics.
- Support the Minister of Labour in their work to accelerate the review of the Employment Equity Act and ensure timely implementation of improvements.
- Increase funding to multicultural community programs, recognizing their important role in supporting community organizations across the country as they fight racism.
- Support the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada in their work to develop, in consultation and cooperation with provinces, territories and Black Canadians, a Black Canadians Justice Strategy.
- Work with colleagues across government to continue building on the spirit of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent, by developing policies and projects that tackle discrimination and unconscious bias in public and private institutions, including anti-Black racism.
- Support the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to enhance the capacity and effectiveness of Black-led and Black-serving organizations through the continued implementation of the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative.
- Support the Minister of Canadian Heritage in efforts to break down systemic barriers in our media and cultural sectors and ensure that Canadians from all backgrounds have their experiences and perspectives represented.
- Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to support the Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism in advancing their mandate.
- Support the President of the Treasury Board in their work to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce by ensuring the hiring, retention and promotion of diverse talents throughout the Public Service.
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