Dear Ms. Hajdu:
Thank you for continuing to serve Canadians as Minister of Health.
Since my previous mandate letter to you, our country has been confronted by the most serious public health crisis we have ever faced. The global pandemic has had devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods and exposed fundamental gaps in our society. Challenges that existed before the pandemic remain and others have been exacerbated. In light of these realities, I am issuing this supplementary letter to outline further responsibilities and considerations that I expect you to undertake on behalf of Canadians. Nothing in this letter replaces any previous commitments or expectations. It is necessary for us to continue making progress on the commitments laid out in 2019, while ensuring our actions are centred on fighting the pandemic and building back better.
Even as we continue to distribute vaccines across Canada, bold action continues to be required to fight this pandemic, save lives, support people and businesses throughout the remainder of this crisis and build back better. We need to work together to protect and create jobs, and to rebuild our country in a way that will create long-term competitiveness through clean growth. As articulated in the Speech from the Throne 2020 and Fall Economic Statement 2020, our four main priorities for making tangible progress for Canadians continue to be: protecting public health; ensuring a strong economic recovery; promoting a cleaner environment; and standing up for fairness and equality.
Ongoing struggles around the world – and here at home – remind us of how important it is to keep working toward a brighter future. We are at a crossroads and must keep moving Canada forward to become stronger, more inclusive, and more resilient. It is part of your job to look out for Canadians, with particular attention to our most vulnerable.
We need to continue delivering on our commitments by working together in a positive, open and collaborative way with Parliamentarians, with partners and with all Canadians. Where legislation is required, I expect you to continue working with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to make progress for Canadians within this minority Parliament.
To be ready for what lies ahead, our Government must continue to be agile and use the best available science and evidence. Canadians are counting on us to ensure that today’s policies, programs and services are calibrated and targeted to match their needs. Therefore, I expect you to uphold our ongoing commitment to delivering real results and effective government for the people we are elected to serve.
Many of our most important commitments continue to require a sustained partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, and Indigenous partners, communities and governments. Always remember that our mandate comes from citizens who are served by all orders of government, and that it is in everyone’s interest that we work together to find common ground and make life better for Canadians. The President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is the Government-wide lead on all relations with the provinces and territories.
There remains no more important relationship to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. With respect and dignity, we remain committed to moving forward along the shared path of reconciliation. You, and indeed all ministers, must continue to play a role in helping to advance self-determination, close socio-economic gaps and eliminate systemic barriers facing First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. As Minister, I expect you to work in full partnership with Indigenous Peoples and communities to advance meaningful reconciliation.
The Government has significantly increased spending during the pandemic in order to achieve our most pressing priority: to help protect Canadians’ health and financial security. Going forward, we must preserve Canada’s fiscal advantage and continue to be guided by values of sustainability and prudence. Therefore, our actions must focus on creating new jobs and supporting the middle class to preserve the strength of our economy.
While fighting the pandemic must be our top priority, climate change still threatens our health, economy, way of life and planet. Clean growth is the best way to create good jobs and power our long-term economic recovery. I expect you and all ministers to pursue complementary partnerships and initiatives that will support our work to exceed our emissions reduction target, seize new market opportunities to create good jobs and prepare our country to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
We remain committed to evidence-based decision-making that takes into consideration the impacts of policies on all Canadians and fully defends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You will apply Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the decisions that you make and consider public policies through an intersectional lens in order to address systemic inequities including: systemic racism; unconscious bias; gender-based discrimination; barriers for persons with disabilities; discrimination against LGBTQ2 communities; and inequities faced by all vulnerable populations. Whenever possible, you will work to improve the quality and availability of disaggregated data to ensure that policy decisions benefit all communities.
It is clear that this pandemic has disproportionately affected different communities throughout our country. Therefore, we must ensure our recovery includes all Canadians, with an emphasis on supporting those most affected. To this end, I expect that you will seek the advice and hear the perspectives of a diverse group of Canadians, in both official languages. Moreover, you will continue to rely on and develop meaningful relationships with civil society and stakeholders, including businesses of all sizes, organized labour, the broader public sector and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors across Canada.
Now more than ever, Canadians are relying on journalists and journalism for accurate and timely news, especially in the face of a concerning spread of misinformation. I expect you to foster a professional and respectful relationship with journalists to ensure that Canadians have the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe.
Our ability to implement our Government’s priorities depends on consideration of the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants. Government employees perform their duties in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians. I expect you to maintain a collaborative working relationship with your Deputy Minister, whose role, like the role of the public servants under their direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.
Important ministerial responsibilities have been entrusted to you, notably delivering on the Government’s commitments that were set out in your 2019 mandate letter. I expect that you will keep me updated and proactively communicate with Canadians on the progress you are making toward our priorities. Always know that you can turn to me, and the Deputy Prime Minister, at any time for support.
In addition to the priorities set out in my mandate letter to you in 2019, as Minister of Health, you will implement on a priority basis the following commitments, as set out in the Speech from the Throne 2020 and building off the investments in the Fall Economic Statement 2020:
- Working with the Minister of Seniors, work with the provinces and territories to set new, national standards for long-term care so that seniors get the best support possible.
- Work with the Minister of Seniors to take additional action to help seniors age in place and stay in their homes longer.
- With the support of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, continue to help provinces and territories to increase COVID-19 testing, tracking and data capacity and to deploy new, safe and approved tests in a manner consistent with public health guidelines as they become available, and continue work to expand the new federal Testing Assistance Response Team to meet surge capacity needs, including in remote and isolated communities.
- As COVID-19 has intensified the health inequities and barriers to care across the country, accelerate work in the following areas:
- With the support of the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development and the Minister of Seniors, work with the provinces and territories to ensure that all Canadians, including vulnerable populations and those living in rural and remote areas, have access to a family doctor or primary health care team, as well as critical health and mental health resources and services, and expand capacity to deliver virtual health care, critical health and mental health resources and services;
- With the support of the Minister of Seniors and working with provinces and territories that are willing to move forward without delay, accelerate steps to achieve a national, universal pharmacare program, including establishing the Canada Drug Agency and implementing both a national formulary to keep drug prices low and a rare-disease strategy to help families save money on high-cost drugs; and
- Continue to address the opioid epidemic tearing through communities, which is an ongoing and worsening public health crisis.
- Support the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to ensure that Canadian researchers have the tools and resources they need to advance discoveries of vaccines and therapeutics to combat COVID-19 and, with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, continue to support and implement the recommendations of the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force with respect to vaccine purchasing and the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force, as it looks at how COVID-19 is affecting vulnerable populations.
- Work in close collaboration with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and the Minister of Indigenous Services on the ongoing work with provinces and territories and Indigenous leaders to ensure COVID-19 vaccines continue to be efficiently and widely distributed to Canadians once they are ready.
- Support the Minister of International Development to reinforce international efforts to ensure that people around the world have access to health interventions to fight COVID-19, including vaccines, therapeutics and strengthened health systems.
- With the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and the Minister of Digital Government, support the work of the COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Advisory Council and promote the adoption of the COVID Alert app by provinces and territories to give all Canadians an extra tool to keep themselves and others safe.
- Continue working with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to protect the health and safety of Canadians through safe, responsible and compassionate management of the border with the United States and other ports of entry into Canada.
- Support the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to continue to fully support and protect workers who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and secure labour to fill workforce gaps in farming and food processing.
- Support the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to consider options for further, targeted measures for personal support workers as they continue to provide essential services in our communities.
Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada