Dear Ms. Hajdu:
I am honoured that you have agreed to serve Canadians as Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. You will be part of a strong team of ministers led by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
We promised Canadians real change – in both what we do and how we do it. Canadians sent a clear message in the last election, and our platform offered a new, ambitious plan for a strong and growing middle class. Canadians expect us to fulfill our commitments, and it is my expectation that you will do your part in delivering on those promises to Canadians.
We made a commitment to grow our economy, strengthen the middle class, and help those working hard to join it. We committed to provide more direct help to those who need it by giving less to those who do not. We committed to public investment to spur economic growth, job creation, and broad-based prosperity. We committed to a responsible, transparent fiscal plan for challenging economic times.
I expect Canadians to hold us accountable for delivering these commitments, and I expect all ministers to do their part – individually and collectively – to improve economic opportunity and security for Canadians.
It is my expectation that we will deliver real results and professional government to Canadians. To ensure that we have a strong focus on results, I will expect Cabinet committees and individual ministers to: track and report on the progress of our commitments; assess the effectiveness of our work; and align our resources with priorities, in order to get the results we want and Canadians deserve.
If we are to tackle the real challenges we face as a country – from a struggling middle class to the threat of climate change – Canadians need to have faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen. I expect that our work will be informed by performance measurement, evidence, and feedback from Canadians. We will direct resources to initiatives that have the greatest, positive impact on the lives of Canadians, and that allow us to meet our commitments to them. I expect you to report regularly on your progress toward fulfilling our commitments and to help develop effective measures that assess the impact of the organizations for which you are answerable.
I made a personal commitment to bring new leadership and a new tone to Ottawa. We made a commitment to Canadians to pursue our goals with a renewed sense of collaboration. Improved partnerships with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments are essential to deliver the real, positive change that we promised Canadians. No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.
We have also committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government. It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves. Government and its information should be open by default. If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians. It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect – they expect us to be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.
Our platform guides our government. Over the course of our four-year mandate, I expect us to deliver on our commitments. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we fulfill our promises, while living within our fiscal plan. Other issues will arise or will be brought to our attention by Canadians, stakeholders, and the public service. It is my expectation that you will engage constructively and thoughtfully and add priorities to your agenda when appropriate.
As Minister, you will be held accountable for our commitment to bring a different style of leadership to government. This will include: close collaboration with your colleagues; meaningful engagement with Opposition Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees and the public service; constructive dialogue with Canadians, civil society, and stakeholders, including business, organized labour, the broader public sector, and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors; and identifying ways to find solutions and avoid escalating conflicts unnecessarily. As well, members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who, by asking necessary questions, contribute in an important way to the democratic process. Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential.
Canadians expect us, in our work, to reflect the values we all embrace: inclusion, honesty, hard work, fiscal prudence, and generosity of spirit. We will be a government that governs for all Canadians, and I expect you, in your work, to bring Canadians together.
You are expected to do your part to fulfill our government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure gender parity and that Indigenous Peoples and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.
As Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, your overarching goal will be to help Canadians get the skills they need for good quality jobs. You will be able to achieve this goal by working with provinces, territories, municipalities, Indigenous Peoples, the post-secondary education system, employers and labour to strengthen our training systems to build the human capital that Canadians and employers need. You will undertake this work in a collaborative way with provinces and territories.
In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:
- Improve workers’ access to good quality job training that provides Canadians with pathways to good careers. This includes:
- rationalizing and expanding the intergovernmental agreements that support skills training: the Labour Market Development Agreements (working with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development), the Canada Job Fund Agreements, the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers and the Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities. This work should support the efforts of provinces, territories and employers, reduce barriers to access, avoid duplication, and promote better outcomes for workers who need help;
- working with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to renew and improve the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy; and
- developing a framework to fund training facilities delivered in partnership with labour unions.
- Promote good quality jobs, address the changing way that people work, and work to increase the workforce participation of women and underrepresented groups. This includes:
- updating the Canada Labour Code to address emerging issues such as unpaid internships, and to ensure that Canadians continue to have a robust and modern set of federal employment standards. This can build on the federal report, Fairness at Work: Federal Labour Standards for the 21st Century.
- amending the Canada Labour Code to allow workers to formally request flexible work arrangements from their employers and consult with provinces and territories on the implementation of similar changes in provincially-regulated sectors;
- developing further initiatives to equip Canadians with the skills needed for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and to better assist workers getting help before becoming unemployed; and
- supporting the work of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development in the development and implementation of the government’s innovation agenda and the Global Skills Strategy.
- Work with provinces and territories to make post-secondary education more affordable for students from low- and middle-income families. This includes:
- completing the work started in Budget 2016 to expand the Canada Student Grant for students from low- and middle-income families, increase eligibility thresholds, and introduce new thresholds that are progressive and consistent across the country; and
- working collaboratively with provinces, territories and Indigenous Peoples to improve promotion of RESPs and Canada Learning Bonds, to make registration simpler, and to increase take up rates.
It is my expectation that you will undertake this work collaboratively and not compel other governments to take on new costs and provide appropriate compensation to provinces and territories that do not participate in the Canada Student Loans program.
I also expect you to work with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to fulfill our commitment to increase annual support to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program.
- Increase the number of good quality, permanent jobs for younger workers. This includes:
- increasing our investment in our Youth Employment Strategy and improving the strategy’s impact;
- working with me, the Minister of Finance and other relevant ministers to respond to the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Youth Employment;
- working with provinces, territories, and post-secondary institutions to develop or expand Pre-Apprenticeship Training Programs; and
- working with me and the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie to develop and implement a Youth Service Program.
- Work with the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Status of Women to develop a proactive pay equity regime for federally-regulated workplaces, further guaranteeing what is already a human right: equal pay for work of equal value. This should draw on the recent report of the House of Commons Special Committee on Pay Equity, as well as additional engagement with stakeholders and experts that may be necessary. This regime should be robust and respond to the needs of all types of federally-regulated workplaces, from the public service to small businesses. I expect that applicable legislation enabling this regime will be tabled no later than 2018.
- Work with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to improve the temporary foreign worker program so it meets the needs of Canadian workers and employers. This includes:
- further developing a pathway to permanent residency so that eligible applicants are able to more fully contribute to Canadian society;
- eliminating the $1,000 Labour Market Impact Assessment fee to hire caregivers and work with provinces and territories to develop a system of regulated companies to hire caregivers on behalf of families; and
- working with stakeholders to act on the recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities’ study of the temporary foreign worker program.
- Support the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development in developing and implementing a Poverty Reduction Strategy. This strategy would set targets to reduce poverty and measure and publicly report on our progress. Our strategy will align with and support existing provincial, territorial and municipal poverty reduction strategies.
- Work with the Government Representative in the Senate to ensure timely passage of Bill C-4. This bill represents a critical step for our government in restoring a fair and balanced approach to labour relations.
- Work with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and the President of the Treasury Board to implement a modern Fair Wages Policy.
- Work with colleagues across the government to support the implementation of Canada’s comprehensive ban on asbestos.
- Work with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, employers and workers to determine appropriate apprenticeship targets for all federal infrastructure projects.
- Work with the Ministers of Status of Women and Innovation, Science and Economic Development to take steps that will enable us to make meaningful progress on reducing the wage gap between men and women, and to encourage an increase in the number of women in senior decision-making positions and on boards in Canada, as well as make progress toward better representation of women where they have been traditionally under-represented, such as in the skilled trades.
- Work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to develop a Social Innovation and Social Finance strategy.
- Work with the Minister of Science in efforts to help employers create more co-op placements for students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and business programs.
- Work with the Minister of Status of Women and other ministerial colleagues to take action to ensure that federal workplaces are free from harassment and sexual violence.
- Work with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development to promote economic development and create jobs for Indigenous Peoples.
These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments.
I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and his or her senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest. Your Deputy Minister will brief you on issues your department may be facing that may require decisions to be made quickly. It is my expectation that you will apply our values and principles to these decisions, so that issues facing your department are dealt with in a timely and responsible manner, and in a way that is consistent with the overall direction of our government.
Our ability, as a government, to successfully implement our platform depends on our ability to thoughtfully consider the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants. Each and every time a government employee comes to work, they do so in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians. I expect you to establish a collaborative working relationship with your Deputy Minister, whose role, and the role of public servants under his or her direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.
We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. When dealing with our Cabinet colleagues, Parliament, stakeholders, or the public, it is important that your behaviour and decisions meet Canadians’ well-founded expectations of our government. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.
As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines. You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities. I ask that you carefully read it and ensure that your staff does so as well. I draw your attention in particular to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law. Please also review the areas of Open and Accountable Government that we have expanded or strengthened, including the guidance on non-partisan use of departmental communications resources and the new code of conduct for exempt staff.
I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. In turn, please know that you can count on me to support you every day in your role as Minister.
I am deeply grateful to have this opportunity to serve with you as we build an even greater country. Together, we will work tirelessly to honour the trust Canadians have given us.
Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada