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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Releases Supplementary Mandate Letters

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released supplementary mandate letters for Ministers. These 36 supplementary letters add to the commitments made in the mandate letters initially released in 2019. They outline further responsibilities and prioritize key areas of focus for the government in the fight against COVID-19 and ensuring a strong economic recovery in Canada.

Review the key supplementary mandate letters below: 

Minister of Health

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Minister of Seniors 

Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Minister of Public Services and Procurement

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Your Santis team is available to discuss the impact and potential opportunities that these new supplementary mandate letters may have for your objectives.

Our quick take:

  • A clear theme of these mandate letters is presenting the urgent priorities Ministers now have as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. What is not clear, though, is what rank or priority each individual undertaking has compared to another. For instance, the Minister of Health’s 2019 mandate letter had roughly 27 commitments with an additional 13 commitments in the 2021 supplementary mandate letter.

  • Ministers have had little opportunity to advocate for and accomplish objectives from initial mandate letters, due to COVID-19. It is unclear the strategies Ministers will deploy to move forward with initial objectives the Prime Minister set out for the government in 2019, now more important than ever as a potential election looms and completed commitments will be on display.

  • Government is open to sector specific support. In an evolved position since the establishment of the emergency support programs, the Minister of Finance’s mandate letter makes it clear that sector specific investments are on the table.

  • Of note, in the Health Minister’s mandate letter, pharmacare again is a primary theme and one that exists in both the 2019 and 2021 mandate letters. The government’s focus on pharmacare appears to be driven to lower the costs of drugs for families, and has language to emphasize the speed in which the government should pursue these particular objectives. The federal government is making it clear that they wish to move forward with any province that will work with them, and not necessarily all provinces.

  • Given the FPT discussions around health transfers and new funding for health care in December 2020, there is a noticeable absence of a renewed health accord in the supplementary mandate letters. 

Final thought:

The government’s communications approach in 2021 so far leaves the impression that this is a government preparing, and even actively organizing, for a potential election. With a slight lead in the polls, 2020 has taught us that Canadian’s support for the Prime Minister can quickly abate.

The next test for the government will be a planned spring budget that will need the support from one major opposition party to pass, likely the NDP. Without that support, a spring election is assured.

Additional reading

Read the Prime Minister’s official press release here.

Review the full list of mandate letters here.