Dear Minister O’Regan:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Labour.
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 Labour, your immediate priorities are to work with federally regulated workplaces to ensure that COVID-19 vaccinations are enforced for those workers and to advance amendments to the Canada Labour Code to provide 10 paid days of sick leave for all federally regulated workers. I also expect you to work with federally regulated employers and labour groups, and with provincial and territorial counterparts, to make workplaces fairer and safer for everyone across the country as well as lead our efforts to eradicate forced labour from Canadian supply chains.
To realize these objectives, I ask that you achieve results for Canadians by delivering the following commitments.
- Continue to work with federally regulated workplaces to ensure that COVID-19 vaccination is enforced.
- Secure passage of amendments to the Canada Labour Code to provide 10 days of paid sick leave for all federally regulated workers, and convene provinces and territories to develop a national action plan to legislate sick leave across the country while respecting provincial-territorial jurisdiction and the unique needs of small business owners.
- Complete the development of a right-to-disconnect policy, in consultation with federally regulated employers and labour groups.
- Move forward with and secure passage of amendments to the Canada Labour Code to include mental health as a specific element of occupational health and safety and to require federally regulated employers to take preventative steps to address workplace stress and injury.
- Amend the Canada Labour Code to provide up to five new paid leave days for federally regulated employees who experience a miscarriage or still birth, and to strengthen provisions to better support working women who need to be re-assigned during pregnancy and while breast-feeding.
- Continue working with provincial and territorial governments to fully implement the International Labour Organization Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019, and continue to support employers and unions to strengthen harassment and violence prevention measures in federally regulated workplaces.
- Lead the efforts to provide free menstrual products in federally regulated workplaces to help ensure women’s participation in work.
- With the support of the President of the Treasury Board, the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion and the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, work to accelerate the review of the Employment Equity Act and ensure timely implementation of improvements.
- Modernize the Federal Contractors Program to ensure federal contractors are paying their employees the federal minimum wage in order to fulfill commitments in respect of Environmental, Social and Governance leadership and government procurement.
- Continue advancing the implementation of the Pay Equity Act across federally regulated workplaces.
- Create a fairer collective bargaining process in federally regulated workplaces by advancing legislation to prohibit the use of replacement workers when a unionized employer has locked out its employees.
- Support the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance to introduce a Labour Mobility Tax Credit to allow workers in the building and construction trades to expense eligible travel and temporary relocation costs.
- Work with the Minister of Natural Resources in moving forward with legislation and comprehensive action to achieve a Just Transition. This work will be guided by consultations with workers, unions, Indigenous Peoples, employers, communities, and provinces and territories to support the future and livelihood of workers and their communities in the transition to a low carbon economy. You will be supported by the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion and Ministers responsible for Regional Development Agencies.
- Work to advance amendments that entitle workers employed by digital platforms to job protections under the Canada Labour Code. This work will also include collaborating with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to ensure better benefits and supports for these workers.
- With the support of the Minister of Public Safety, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, introduce legislation to eradicate forced labour from Canadian supply chains and ensure that Canadian businesses operating abroad do not contribute to human rights abuses.
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