Mandate letters: The sector makes its way back into the government agenda
Last Friday, the Prime Minister’s Office released new, supplementary mandate letters to members of cabinet (see entire list). In these letters, ministers are assigned additional commitments, based on the government priorities outlined in the Throne Speech and Fall Economic Statement 2020.
We were pleased to note the following sector-wide commitment to be implemented under the Minister Hussen of Families, Children and Social Development:
- Continue to work across government to ensure that charities and nonprofits have the tools that they need to modernize as they emerge from the pandemic to support the Government’s overall agenda in a manner that responds to the needs of Canadians in every region.
We applaud this official signal of the Government’s commitment to sector policy needs. We are hopeful that this is indicative of a readiness to engage in a strategic relationship with the country’s nonprofits and charities, at a time when partnership between these two key sectors is critical. We look forward to working with the Minister’s Office and Department to advance long-awaited reforms to our regulatory, legislative, and funding environment across government.
The Minister of Finance, supported by Ministers of Heritage, Innovation, Science and Industry, and Infrastructure and Communities, among others - are assigned a joint mandate to ensure “direct investments” are made into “social sector and infrastructure”. The specifics of this commitment are unclear, as our sector continues to advocate for much needed core operational funding to replace lost unrestricted revenues brought on by the pandemic.
Diversity in federal procurement practices made its way into the letters of the President of the Treasury Board and the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, constituting a powerful step towards equitable development of the social procurement field, an area of potential growth for sector revenues.
Of notable absence from the letters are any commitments related to the execution of a social innovation and social finance strategy, an area of current interest for many in our sector.
The Minister of National Revenue has been assigned two commitments to “work with [...] community organizations” to “identify innovative ways to help Canadians access COVID-19-related benefits and navigate their tax returns” and to “develop and implement free, automatic tax filing services for simple returns.” The Minister of National Revenue has also been asked to expand and enhance the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program.
The supplemental mandate letters include several other commitments of interest to charities and nonprofits, including the development of an “Action Plan for Women in the Economy”; the creation of a “Canada-wide early learning and child care system”; and partnerships with not-for-profits and co-ops under the National Housing Strategy.
Relatedly, see our statement in response to last fall’s Speech from the Throne.