Dear Minister Sajjan:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of International Development and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada.
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 International Development, your immediate priority is to continue to support developing countries in their fight against COVID-19, including supporting their health systems and economic recovery. I also expect you to contribute to global efforts to eradicate global poverty and to assist those most in need, including by providing humanitarian assistance and ensuring Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy addresses inequalities and empowers women and girls, specifically through education and in the global care economy. As the Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, you will ensure the strength of this new standalone Agency and that it prioritizes the delivery of support to small and medium-sized businesses and supports job creation in communities recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
To realize these objectives, I ask that you achieve results for Canadians by delivering the following commitments.
- Implement the Feminist International Assistance Policy and maintain an ongoing focus on gender equality and reaching the poorest, most vulnerable and marginalized, through an intersectional, human rights-based feminist approach to address economic, political and social inequalities that prevent individuals from reaching their full potential.
- With the support of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, work with the Minister of Health to continue to reinforce international efforts to ensure that people around the world have access to health interventions to fight COVID-19, including by donating at least 200 million vaccine doses to vulnerable populations around the world through COVAX by the end of 2022 and providing additional funding for enhanced testing and vaccine production capacity in developing countries.
- In support of COVID-19 recovery in developing countries, maintain Canada’s international leadership on financing for development and continue to collaborate with new and existing partners in civil society and the private sector, including through the International Assistance Innovation Program, FinDev Canada, the Sovereign Loans Program and the Equality Fund, ensuring these are aligned with Canada’s feminist approach to development.
- Increase Canada’s international development assistance every year towards 2030 to realize the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.
- Improve the way we manage and deliver international development assistance to ensure greater responsiveness, effectiveness, transparency and accountability.
- Continue to build on Canada’s historic support for education with a focus on greater access to inclusive, equitable and quality education for the world’s most marginalized children, including new funding for girls’ and refugees’ education.
- Continue to support women leaders and feminist groups leading efforts to promote peace and protect the rights of women and vulnerable groups, including through new funding for the Women’s Voice and Leadership Program.
- Increase funding to grassroots women’s rights organizations and continue to work to close persistent gaps in sexual and reproductive health and rights services, including in relation to the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence.
- Deliver on Canada’s landmark funding commitment for stand-alone programming that recognizes, reduces and addresses the unequal distribution of paid and unpaid care work, and supports and protects the rights of paid and unpaid care workers.
- Provide greater assistance to people with disabilities in developing countries through advocacy in multilateral forums and international development assistance programming.
- Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to establish a Canadian centre to expand the availability of Canadian expertise and assistance to those seeking to build peace, advance justice, promote human rights, inclusion and democracy, and deliver good governance.
- Increase the annual investment in the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives to enable staff at Canada’s embassies around the world to support the work of feminists, LGBTQ2 activists and human rights defenders.
- With the support of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth and working with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, expand Canada’s efforts to advance gender equality and LGBTQ2 rights abroad. This will include support for the work of global feminist initiatives, relevant international institutions and civil society partners, including the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council.
- Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence to expand Canada’s engagement with allies, partners and international organizations in order to promote peace and security, provide humanitarian assistance and support international emergency responses.
- Continue to help support Afghan citizens through humanitarian assistance and to work with our allies to protect democratic and human rights, including for women, girls and minorities.
- Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to engage with international allies and partners to support countries in crisis seeking to establish an enduring democracy.
- Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change to mobilize and provide climate finance in order to support developing country adaption, mitigation and resilience, including support for small island states at particular risk of climate-related emergencies.
- With the Minister of Foreign Affairs, work to strengthen Canada’s engagement and presence in the United Nations (UN) system in order to ensure a more effective, efficient, relevant and accountable UN that supports a rules-based international system, particularly so that it can better address those who are seeking to undermine democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
- Support the Minister of Foreign Affairs in developing and launching a comprehensive Indo-Pacific strategy to deepen diplomatic partnerships and international assistance in the region.
- As a newly created standalone agency, build the strength of the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada so that it promotes short- and long-term job creation and economic development in British Columbia, particularly through the delivery of regionally tailored programs, services, knowledge and expertise, so that all regions, and in particular rural and small communities, have access to place-based programming and support. In doing so, you will regularly engage with the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, as well as with the Ministers responsible for the other Regional Development Agencies.
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