Federal Ministers receive Mandate Letters from PM

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This week, Prime Minister Trudeau sent his new cabinet of federal Ministers their mandate letters, outlining their priorities going forward. These letters are a strong indication of what we’ll be seeing from the federal government, and set the tone of our initial conversations with the Ministers in the coming months.

In other words, these mandate letters are very important, and we’ve been watching closely for their release to the public!

We reviewed the letters closely for mention of older Canadians and caregivers, and here’s what we found.

Minister of Seniors, Kamal Khera

As we previously announced, we recently had the honour of being among the first to sit down with Minister Khera to discuss our priorities for older Canadians based on our policy book, VOICES. The conversation was very productive and set the stage for a strong working relationship with this key champion for seniors in our country.

Minister Khera’s mandate letter lays out a clear list of priorities to improve the finances of older adults, as well as focuses on community and home care supports. We’re also encouraged to see that Khera will be working closely with Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos to improve quality and availability of long-term care (including finalizing the national standards we’ve been working with the government to put into place).

Key highlights from the mandate letter include:

  • Immediate priority is to support and help advance the Government’s commitment to increase Old Age Security (OAS) and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
  • Support the Minister of Health in improving the quality and availability of long-term care and to take concrete actions to support seniors who want to age at home.
  • Create opportunities for seniors to be more connected, supported, and active members of their communities through implementing the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
  • Increase GIS by $500 for single seniors and $750 for couples starting at age 65.
  • Ensure seniors’ eligibility for GIS is not negatively impacted by receipt of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB).
  • Establish an expert panel to provide recommendations for establishing an Aging at Home Benefit.
  • Assist community-based organizations in providing practical support that helps low-income and otherwise vulnerable seniors age in place, and support regional and national projects that help expand services that have already demonstrated results in helping seniors stay in their homes.
  • Provide seniors with a single point of access to a wide range of government services and benefits.
  • Strengthen Canada’s approach to elder abuse prevention by:
    • Finalizing the national definition of elder abuse,
    • Investing in better data collection and
    • establishing new Penalties in the Criminal Code related to elder abuse.
  • Represent the Government of Canada at the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Seniors Forum.
  • Continue leading work within Employment and Social Development Canada on seniors’ programming including the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
  • Support the Minister of Health in their work to improve the quality and availability of long-term care homes and beds. This includes working with provincial and territorial governments to:
    • Improve infection prevention and control measures
    • Identify shared principles,
    • Develop national standards to ensure seniors get the care they deserve

Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos

The Minister of Health plays an extremely important role in supporting and protecting the lives of older Canadians. The Ministry of Health must work with the provinces and territories to take action on many of our policy recommendations around vaccine funding and availability, long-term care and home care reform. Obviously, the ongoing and ever-changing COVID-19 situation will continue to be at the top of the Ministers’ priority list, but this can’t be at the loss of other important issues that deserve immediate attention.

As Minister Duclos turns his attention to a new era of focus, we look forward to continuing our work together in protecting the health and well-being of older people from coast to coast!

Highlights from the mandate letter include:

  • Work with provinces and territories to strengthen our universal public health care system and public health supports, backed by an early increase of investments in primary and virtual care and mental health services.
  • Ensure the primary care system is positioned for the future, including accessible health system data, as well as working to improve the quality and availability of long-term care.

COVID-19 related items

  • Work collaboratively with colleagues, provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous communities and other partners to continue the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.
  • Ensure sufficient domestic supply of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. 
  • Evaluate our border posture and ensure surge capacity supports are available to assist provinces and territories.
  • Ensure implementation and adherence to public health measures and support availability of rapid and self-test through working with provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous organizations., private sector & other partners.
  • Invest in the study of the long-term health impacts of COVID-19, including the effects of long COVID on different groups, notably vulnerable populations and children
  • Launch a COVID-19 Proof of Vaccination Fund that implements a requirement for proof of vaccine credentials in provinces and territories for non-essential businesses and public spaces.
  • Protect our border. from an infection control perspective, in a responsible and compassionate way.

Other items

  • Strengthen surveillance and capacity to detect and act on public health threats. 
  • Strength the security of medical supply chains, working with colleagues to advance the Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy.
  • Strengthen our universal public health system, ensure health care workers are supported and recruited across the country and advance an integrated, comprehensive and patient-centric strategy, harnessing the full potential of data and digital systems, including by:
    • Investing in supporting initiatives that will help to speed access to care for critical services;
    • Supporting provinces and territories to hire new family doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners;
    • Expanding virtual care, helping to cover digital infrastructure and other system improvements so that Canadians can access virtual medical consultations or remote monitoring;
    • Expanding the number of family doctors and primary health teams in rural communities and working to give rural communities greater access to a full suite of health and social services professionals;
    • Strengthening compliance with and modernizing the interpretation of the Canada Health Act on matters of extra billing for publicly insured services
    • Work to create a world-class health data system that is timely, usable, open-by-default, connected and comprehensive.
  • Establish a permanent ongoing Canada Mental Health Transfer .
  • Negotiate agreements with provinces and territories to support efforts to improve the quality and availability of long-term care homes and beds. 
  • Improve infection prevention and control measures, identify shared principles, and develop national standards and a Safe Long-Term Care Act to ensure seniors get the care they deserve.
  • Train up to 50,000 new personal support workers and raise wages.
  • Ensure the Government of Canada continues to be prepared to proactively mitigate, and respond to, emerging incidents and hazards.
  • Develop a plan to modernize the federal research funding ecosystem to maximize the impact of investments in both research excellence and downstream innovation, with a particular focus on the relationships among the federal research granting agencies and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. A Canadian Model based on DARPA.
  • With the support of the Chief Science Advisor, continue to ensure science and evidence are integrated into our pandemic response.
  • Take increased and expedited action to monitor, prevent and mitigate the serious and growing threat of antimicrobial resistance and preserve the effectiveness of the antimicrobials Canadians rely upon every day.
  • Work with provinces and territories towards national universal pharmacare, 
  • Proceed with a national strategy on high-cost drugs for rare diseases and advancing the establishment of the Canada Drug Agency.
  • Develop a plan to make Parliament able to respond with greater agility in the event of a future national health crisis.
  • Promote healthy eating by advancing the Healthy Eating Strategy. This includes finalizing the front-of-package labelling to promote healthy food choices and supporting restrictions on the commercial marketing of food and beverages to children.
  • In this, the UN Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021-2030), promote seniors’ physical and mental health to enable them to live longer at home, including by supporting the Minister of Seniors in their work to establish an expert panel to provide recommendations for establishing an Aging at Home Benefit.

Deputy Prime Minister / Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland

The Minister of Finance holds the keys to making key investments in priority areas like health care, while also introducing and changing tax credits and other financial vehicle to support aging Canadians. As such, this is a critically important Ministry for us as Canada’s National Seniors’ Advocacy Organization.

Better aging starts with better financial stability for older adults in our country, and we look forward to working with Minister Freeland to put her mandate letter into action.

Highlights from the mandate letter include:

  • Establish a new Canada Mental Health Transfer.
  • Introduce a Career Extension Tax Credit of up to $1,650 a year for seniors who want to stay in the workforce. 
  • Introduce a Multigenerational Home Renovation tax credit.
  • Make policy decisions to expand Canada’s housing supply, and in continuing to advance our investments in affordable housing and extending the model of co-operative housing to new communities.
  • Deter “renovictions
  • Introduce a one-time income tax deduction for health care professionals who are just starting out in their careers to help with the costs of setting up their practice in a rural community.
  • Work with provinces and territories over the next review cycle to Increase the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec Pension Plan survivor’s benefit by 25 per cent.
  • Establish a single, independent ombudsperson, with the power to impose binding arbitration, to address consumer complaints involving banks.
  • Advance legislation to enhance the powers of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to review bank fees and charges and to require adjustments if they are excessive.

Although we’re shining a light on these Ministers, they aren’t the only ones who work on issues affecting older Canadians. You can find the other mandate letters on the federal government website.

Watch for updates on our first meetings with these Ministers in the new year!


Canada’s National Seniors’ Advocacy Organization

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
University of Toronto

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