Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has released the mandate letters for each of the 37 cabinet Ministers of his minority Liberal government. The House of Commons will resume sitting on January 27, 2020. Mandate letters outline the policy objectives that each minister will work to accomplish. The letters are not an exhaustive list of all files a minister will work on, but they do reference pressing challenges ministers will address.
This article highlights some of the priority initiatives set out in the mandate letters that impact employment/labour law and payroll across Canada and for federally regulated employers.
1. Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion mandate letter
The Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion was mandated to fulfill the government’s commitments to strengthen Employment Insurance, including the development of new Special Benefits models:
- Reform the delivery of Employment Insurance maternity and parental benefits to be tax-free at source. This will include a comparable benefit for the portion of federal taxes that residents of Quebec pay as part of the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan;
- Introduce a 15-week leave for adoptive parents, including LGBTQ2 families;
- Work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to develop a Guaranteed Paid Family Leave program. Together, the ministers will improve and integrate the existing Employment Insurance-based system of maternity and parental benefits, as well as the Canada Child Benefit, with a guaranteed income during the first year of a child’s life; and work with Quebec on effective integration with its own parental benefits system;
- Create a new Career Insurance Benefit for workers who have worked for the same employer for five or more years and have lost their job as their employer ceases operation. This new benefit will begin as Employment Insurance ends and will not be clawed back if other income is earned;
- Improve the current pilot project for seasonal workers with a permanent program that provides consistent and reliable benefits;
- Extend Employment Insurance sickness benefits from 15 weeks to 26 weeks;
- With the support of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, work with Statistics Canada to strengthen local labour market data so that Employment Insurance can better reflect local labour market realities; and
- With the support of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, create a new Employment Insurance Disaster Assistance Benefit. This new benefit will be developed in consultation with experts, workers and employers. It will replace lost income when families need to temporarily stop working to protect their homes or need to relocate for safety reasons.
In addition, the mandate includes promoting and furthering the skilled trades and accessibility matters:
- With the support of the Minister of Finance, continue the implementation of the new Canada Training Benefit, for launch in 2020.
- Continue to support the work of the national campaign to promote the skilled trades as first choice careers for young people.
- Invest in skills training to ensure that there are enough qualified workers to support energy audits, retrofits and net zero home construction.
- Create the Canadian Apprenticeship Service in partnership with provinces, territories, employers and unions. This will involve establishing new initiatives so that Red Seal apprentices have sufficient work experience opportunities to finish their training on time and find well-paying jobs, including providing up to $10,000 per apprentice over four years for every new position created.
- With the support of the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, enhance the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy and the Canada Summer Jobs program.
- Support the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to make progress on eliminating interprovincial trade barriers by harmonizing rules and regulatory requirements to better facilitate the mobility of labour across Canada.
- Continue efforts in leading the Government’s work to promote disability inclusion: Ensure the timely and ambitious implementation of the Accessible Canada Act, putting relevant policies and practices of the new Act into place and supporting the operationalization of the Canadian Accessibility Standards Development Organization, in consultation with the disability community.
- Conduct a comprehensive review to ensure a consistent approach to disability inclusion and supports across government that addresses the unfairness and inequities in government programs and services, and challenges the biases built into government processes. This includes a definition of disability consistent with the Accessible Canada Act.
- Undertake initiatives to improve the economic inclusion of persons with disabilities and specifically target barriers to full participation in the labour force, including addressing discrimination and stigma, raising public awareness and working with employers and businesses in a coordinated way.
- Create a workplace accessibility fund to help increase the availability of accommodations that help close the gaps in access to good paying jobs and education.
2. Minister of Labour mandate letter
- Continue to implement new protections and enhancements through the Canada Labour Code, as well as working directly with industry and organized labour to grow the middle class. The Minister is also responsible for advancing the positive economic outcomes that come from fair and collaborative collective bargaining processes.
- Introduce legislation to create a new federal Family Day holiday.
- Increase the federal minimum wage to at least $15 per hour.
- Include mental health as a specific element of occupational health and safety.
- Require federally regulated employers to take preventative steps to address workplace stress and injury.
- Develop greater labour protections for people who work through digital platforms, whose status is not clearly covered by provincial or federal laws.
- Co-develop new provisions with employers and labour groups that give federally regulated workers the “right to disconnect.”
- Work with the provinces and territories on the ratification of the International Labour Organization Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019.
- Work with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to support the Minister of Natural Resources and partners to advance legislation to support the future and livelihood of workers and their communities in the transition to a low-carbon global economy.
- Lead the implementation of the recently passed Pay Equity Act.
- Support the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion to make progress on eliminating interprovincial trade barriers by harmonizing rules and regulatory requirements to better facilitate the mobility of labour across Canada.
3. Minister of Finance mandate letter
- Develop and implement a new Basic Personal Amount (BPA) of $15,000. Higher income individuals should not benefit from this tax cut but will still receive the existing BPA tax credit.
- Work with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to support the Minister of Health to strengthen Medicare, renewing our health agreements with the provinces and territories in four priority areas: ensure that every Canadian has access to a family doctor or primary health care team; set national standards for access to mental health services so Canadians can get fast access to the support they need when they need it; continue to make home care and palliative care more available across the country; and continue to implement national universal pharmacare, including the establishment of the Canada Drug Agency, a national formulary and a rare disease drug strategy to help Canadian families save money on high-cost drugs.
- In the upcoming review of the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), work with the Minister of Seniors and the provinces and territories to increase survivor benefits under the CPP and the Quebec Pension Plan by 25 percent.
- Support the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion in implementing the Canada Training Benefit.
- Work in collaboration with provinces to ensure that the CPP enhancement is completed.
- Finalize amendments to the Income Tax Act to limit the benefit of the employee stock option deduction for high-income individuals employed at large, long-established mature firms.
4. Minister of Canadian Heritage mandate letter
- Work with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to advance Canada’s Digital Charter and enhanced powers for the Privacy Commissioner, in order to establish a new set of online rights, including:
- data portability;
- the ability to withdraw,
- remove and erase basic personal data from a platform;
- the knowledge of how personal data is being used, including with a national advertising registry and the ability to withdraw consent for the sharing or sale of data;
- the ability to review and challenge the amount of personal data that a company or government has collected;
- proactive data security requirements;
- the ability to be informed when personal data is breached with appropriate compensation; and
- the ability to be free from online discrimination including bias and harassment.
- Support the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to create new regulations for large digital companies to better protect people’s personal data and to encourage greater competition in the digital marketplace. A newly created Data Commissioner will oversee those regulations.
Other mandate letters for other departments can be viewed here.