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Highlights from Ministerial Mandate Letters

Highlights from Ministerial Mandate Letters

November 13, 2015

Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly released all ministerial mandate letters.

The mandate letters from the Prime Minister provide a framework for what Ministers are expected to accomplish, including specific policy objectives and challenges to be addressed.

Each letter included wording about openness and transparency,

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.

as well as evidence-based practice:

I expect that our work will be informed by performance measurement, evidence, and feedback from Canadians. We will direct our resources to those initiatives that are having the greatest, positive impact on the lives of Canadians, and that will 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.

A number of letters include priorities of interest to the Canadian library and information management community:

Minister of Canadian Heritage (Melanie Joly)

As Minister of Canadian Heritage, your overarching goal will be to implement our government’s plan to strengthen our cultural and creative industries. Our cultural sector is an enormous source of strength to the Canadian economy. Canada’s stories, shaped by our immense diversity, deserve to be celebrated and shared with the world. Our plan will protect our important national institutions, safeguard our official languages, promote the industries that reflect our unique identity as Canadians, and provide jobs and economic opportunities in our cultural and creative sectors.

  • Review current plans for Canada 150 and champion government-wide efforts to promote this important celebration.
  • Restore and increase funding for CBC/Radio-Canada, following consultation with the broadcaster and the Canadian cultural community.
  • Double investment in the Canada Council for the Arts.
  • Increase funding for Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board.
  • Restore the Promart and Trade Routes International cultural promotion programs, update their design, and increase related funding.
  • Increase funding for the Young Canada Works program to help prepare the next generation of Canadians working in the heritage sector.
  • Work with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities to make significant new investments in cultural infrastructure as part of our investment in social infrastructure.
  • Establish a free, online service for learning and retaining English and French as second languages.
  • Work in collaboration with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to provide new funding to promote, preserve and enhance Indigenous languages and cultures.
  • Work with the Minister of Justice to update and reinstate a Court Challenges Program.

Minister of Democratic Institutions (Maryam Monsef)

As Minister of Democratic Institutions, your overarching goal will be to strengthen the openness and fairness of Canada’s public institutions.

  • Work with the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Justice to enhance the openness of government, including supporting a review of the Access to Information Act.
  • Support the President of the Treasury Board in the establishment of new performance standards, and in setting up a mechanism to conduct rigorous assessment of the performance of key government services and to report findings publicly. As well, support the development of a new service strategy that aims to create a single online window for all government services with new performance standards.

Minister of Finance (Bill Morneau)

  • Work with the President of the Treasury Board and your Ministerial colleagues to conduct a review of tax expenditures and other spending to reduce poorly targeted and inefficient measures, wasteful spending, and government initiatives that are ineffective or have outlived their purpose.
  • Work with the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities to develop the Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide low-cost financing (including loan guarantees) for new municipal infrastructure projects in our priority investment areas.
  • Work with the President of Treasury Board to make government accounting and financial reporting more consistent, transparent and understandable to Canadians. This should include providing costing analysis for all proposed legislation and receiving Parliamentary approval for borrowing plans.
  • Introduce a new tax benefit to help teachers and early childhood educators with the cost of school supplies.

Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (Carolyn Bennett)

  • To support the work of reconciliation, and continue the necessary process of truth telling and healing, work with provinces and territories, and with First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit, to implement recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Make significant new investments in First Nations education to ensure that First Nations children on reserve receive a quality education while respecting the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education.
  • Work with residential school survivors, First Nations, Métis Nation, Inuit communities, provinces, territories, and educators to incorporate Aboriginal and treaty rights, residential schools, and Indigenous contributions into school curricula.

Minister of Infrastructure and Communities (Amarjeet Sohi)

  • Develop a 10-year plan to deliver significant new funding to provinces, territories and municipalities.  This plan should ensure both immediate increased investments in infrastructure and long-term, predictable funding should support provincial, territorial and municipal priorities, improve access to, and governance of, existing infrastructure programs, increase data collection capacity and promote better asset management of infrastructure in Canada. The plan should focus on:
    • public transit;
    • social infrastructure, including affordable housing, seniors’ facilities, early learning and child care, and cultural and recreational infrastructure;
    • green infrastructure, including investments in local water and wastewater facilities, clean energy, climate resilient infrastructure like flood mitigation systems, and infrastructure to protect against changing weather; and
    • making changes to the Building Canada Fund so that it is more transparent and approval processes are sped up, which would include removing the P3 screen for projects.  It should also be more focused on strategic and trade enabling infrastructure priorities, including roads, bridges, transportation corridors, ports, and border gateways.

This process should result in bilateral agreements with provinces and territories on infrastructure investments.  You should also work with the Minister of Finance to ensure any unspent infrastructure funds are automatically transferred to municipalities through a temporary top-up of the Gas Tax Fund.

  • Work with the Minister of Finance to establish the Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide low-cost financing (including loan guarantees) for new municipal infrastructure projects in our priority investment areas.  This new institution will work in partnership with other orders of governments and Canada’s financial community, so that the federal government can use its strong credit rating and lending authority to make it easier – and more affordable – for municipalities to finance the broad range of infrastructure projects their communities need.  This should include preparing for the launch of a new Canadian Green Bond that can enable additional investments when a lack of capital represents a barrier to projects.
  • Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in a review of existing measures to protect Canadians and our critical infrastructure from cyber-threats.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (Navdeep Singh Bains)

  • Restore the long-form census and update legislation governing Statistics Canada to reinforce the institution’s independence.
  • Improve the quality of publicly available data in Canada.  This will require working with Statistics Canada, the President of the Treasury Board and other departments and agencies to develop an Open Data initiative that would consider big data and make more of the data paid for by Canadians available to the public.
  • Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in a review of existing measures to protect Canadians and our critical infrastructure from cyber-threats.
  • Increase high-speed broadband coverage and work to support competition, choice and availability of services, and foster a strong investment environment for telecommunications services to keep Canada at the leading edge of the digital economy.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (Jody Wilson-Raybould)

  • You should conduct a review of the changes in our criminal justice system and sentencing reforms over the past decade with a mandate to assess the changes, ensure that we are increasing the safety of our communities, getting value for money, addressing gaps and ensuring that current provisions are aligned with the objectives of the criminal justice system.  Outcomes of this process should include increased use of restorative justice processes and other initiatives to reduce the rate of incarceration amongst Indigenous Canadians, and implementation of recommendations from the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith regarding the restriction of the use of solitary confinement and the treatment of those with mental illness.
  • Undertake modernization efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system, in cooperation with provinces and territories.  This should include improved use of information technology to make the system more efficient and timely, exploration of sentencing alternatives and bail reform, and the creation of a unified family court.
  • Support the Minister of Canadian Heritage to restore a modern Court Challenges Program.
  • Work with the Ministers of Finance and National Revenue to develop a modernized regulatory and legal framework governing the Charitable and Not-for-Profit sectors.
  • Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in his efforts to repeal key elements of Bill C-51, and introduce new legislation that strengthens accountability with respect to national security and better balances collective security with rights and freedoms.
  • Work with the President of the Treasury Board to enhance the openness of government, including supporting his review of the Access to Information Act to ensure that Canadians have easier access to their own personal information, that the Information Commissioner is empowered to order government information to be released and that the Act applies appropriately to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices, as well as administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts.

Minister of National Revenue (Diane Lebouthillier)

  • Allow charities to do their work on behalf of Canadians free from political harassment, and modernize the rules governing the charitable and not-for-profit sectors, working with the Minister of Finance.  This will include clarifying the rules governing “political activity,” with an understanding that charities make an important contribution to public debate and public policy.  A new legislative framework to strengthen the sector will emerge from this process.  This should also include work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to develop a Social Finance and Social Enterprise strategy.

Minister of Science (Kirsty Duncan)

We are a government that believes in science – and a government that believes that good scientific knowledge should inform decision-making.  We believe that investments in scientific research, including an appropriate balance between fundamental research to support new discoveries and the commercialization of ideas, will lead to good jobs and sustainable economic growth. As Minister of Science, your overarching goal will be to support scientific research and the integration of scientific considerations in our investment and policy choices.  Support for science is an essential pillar in our strategy to create sustainable economic growth and support and grow the middle class.

  • Create a Chief Science Officer mandated to ensure that government science is fully available to the public, that scientists are able to speak freely about their work, and that scientific analyses are considered when the government makes decisions.
  • Support your colleagues in the review and reform of Canada’s environmental assessment processes to ensure that environmental assessment decisions are based on science, facts, and evidence.
  • Support your Ministerial colleagues as they re-insert scientific considerations into the heart of our decision-making and investment choices.
  • Examine options to strengthen the recognition of, and support for, fundamental research to support new discoveries.

President of the Treasury Board (Scott Brison)

As President of the Treasury Board, your overarching goal will be to lead the management agenda of the government and oversee the implementation and delivery of Cabinet-approved initiatives.  I want you to lead the government’s efforts to ensure that departments and other federal organizations are able to use the best available information. Responsible governments rely on sound evidence to make decisions to ensure we obtain good value for our money. You should work with your colleagues to ensure that they are devoting a fixed percentage of program funds to experimenting with new approaches to existing problems and measuring the impact of their programs.  I expect you to instill a strengthened culture of measurement, evaluation, and innovation in program and policy design and delivery. This should include publicly releasing all key information that informs the decisions we make.

  • Establish new performance standards, in collaboration with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, who is responsible for Service Canada, the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, the Minister of Democratic Institutions, and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and set up a mechanism to conduct rigorous assessments of the performance of key government services and report findings publicly.  As well, develop a new service strategy that aims to create a single online window for all government services with new performance standards.
  • Strengthen oversight on government advertising and modernize the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada to reflect the modern digital environment.
  • Take a leadership role to review policies to improve the use of evidence and data in program innovation and evaluation, more open data, and a more modern approach to comptrollership.
  • Strengthen the oversight of taxpayer dollars and the clarity and consistency of financial reporting.  Ensure consistency and maximum alignment between the Estimates and the Public Accounts and exercise due diligence regarding costing analysis prepared by departments for all proposed legislation and programs.
  • Work with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons to improve reporting to Parliament.
  • Accelerate and expand open data initiatives and make government data available digitally, so that Canadians can easily access and use it.
  • Work with the Minister of Justice to enhance the openness of government, including leading a review of the Access to Information Act to ensure that Canadians have easier access to their own personal information, that the Information Commissioner is empowered to order government information to be released and that the Act applies appropriately to the Prime Minister’s and Ministers’ Offices, as well as administrative institutions that support Parliament and the courts.
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