Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered marching orders to his cabinet ministers today, instructing them to govern in a “positive, open and collaborative way” as they work to speed up airport screening times and bring in a national, universal pharmacare program.
Trudeau issued mandate letters to each of his ministers Friday, outlining the key policy objectives that each minister is tasked with as well as the overarching goals of the government. The ministers’ to-do lists mirror the promises in the Liberal election campaign platform, with the priorities of making life more affordable, strengthening the health-care system, fighting climate change and promoting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
“It is more important than ever for Canadians to unite and build a stronger, more inclusive and more resilient country,” reads the opening of the letter.
“The government of Canada is the central institution to promote that unity of purpose and, as a Minister in that Government, you have a personal duty and responsibility to fulfill that objective.”
The letter instructs ministers to work in a “constructive and thoughtful” way with parliamentarians, provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners to find common ground.
Trudeau said there remains no more important relationship to him than the one with Indigenous peoples.
“We made significant progress in our last mandate on supporting self-determination, improving service delivery and advancing reconciliation,” he wrote.
“I am directing every single Minister to determine what they can do in their specific portfolio to accelerate and build on the progress we have made with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has been handed the most critical and far-ranging job, working across cabinet with all ministers to advance the government’s agenda and working with the provinces and territories on health care, climate change action and gun control measures.
Health Minister Patty Hajdu has been tasked with taking steps to implement “national universal pharmacare.” The wording is significant — “universal” suggests government is moving to a system that provides access to all Canadians rather than a fill-in-the-gaps approach.
Hajdu is also charged with ensuring every Canadian has access to a family doctor or primary health-care team.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau has been instructed to address some of the big headaches for Canadian travellers, including taking steps to shorten wait times for security screening. He has been told to complete the transfer of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) to an independent, non-profit entity to improve service, including a cap on the time travellers are forced to wait at security checkpoints.
Tax cuts, drug courts
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has been ordered to deliver tax cuts for Canadians and companies that develop zero-emissions technology, while implementing the government’s fiscal plan. That plan included reducing the federal debt, maintaining Canada’s triple-A credit rating and preserving “fiscal firepower” to prepare for a possible economic downturn.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti also has a long list of priorities, including expanding legislation on medical assistance in dying (MAID), improving access to drug treatment courts and ensuring mandatory sexual assault training for judges.
A private member’s bill from former interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose requiring this training for judges died before it passed in the last session of Parliament.