Priorities for the New Ministers (Defence, Veterans Affairs)
A “mandate letter” is a letter from the PM to a Cabinet Minister explaining what that boss sees as the Minister’s key priorities.
The new PM is making his Minister’s mandate letters public.
- Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to end Canada’s combat mission in Iraq and Syria, refocusing Canada’s efforts in the region on the training of local forces and humanitarian support.
- Ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces have the equipment they need. This includes:
- working with the Minister of Finance to maintain current National Defence spending levels, including current planned increases;
- working with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to launch an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fighter aircraft, focusing on options that match Canada’s defence needs; and
- working with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to invest in strengthening the Navy, while meeting the commitments that were made as part of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.
- Work with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to renew Canada’s commitment to United Nations peace operations. This includes:
- making Canada’s specialized capabilities – from mobile medical teams, to engineering support, to aircraft that can carry supplies and personnel – available on a case-by-case basis;
- working with the Minister of Foreign Affairs to help the United Nations respond more quickly to emerging and escalating conflicts and providing well-trained personnel to international initiatives that can be quickly deployed, such as mission commanders, staff officers, and headquarters units; and
- leading an international effort to improve and expand the training of military and civilian personnel deployed on peace operations, while insisting that any peacekeepers involved in misconduct be held accountable by their own country and the United Nations.
- Maintain Canada’s strong commitments to the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) and to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
- Conduct an open and transparent review process to create a new defence strategy for Canada, replacing the now-outdated Canada First Defence Strategy.
- Renew Canada’s focus on surveillance and control of Canadian territory and approaches, particularly our Arctic regions, and increase the size of the Canadian Rangers.
- Work with senior leaders of the Canadian Armed Forces to establish and maintain a workplace free from harassment and discrimination.
- Work with the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence to reduce complexity, overhaul service delivery, and strengthen partnerships between National Defence and Veterans Affairs.
- Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in a review of existing measures to protect Canadians and our critical infrastructure from cyber-threats.
- Work with the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence to develop a suicide prevention strategy for Canadian Armed Forces personnel and veterans.
- Work with the Minister of National Defence to reduce complexity, overhaul service delivery, and strengthen partnerships between Veterans Affairs and National Defence.
- Re-establish lifelong pensions as an option for our injured veterans, and increase the value of the disability award, while ensuring that every injured veteran has access to financial advice and support so that they can determine the form of compensation that works best for them and their families.
- Expand access to the Permanent Impairment Allowance to better support veterans who have had their career options limited by a service-related illness or injury.
- Provide injured veterans with 90 percent of their pre-release salary, and index this benefit so that it keeps pace with inflation.
- Create a new Veterans Education Benefit that will provide full support for the costs of up to four years of college, university, or technical education for Canadian Forces veterans after completion of service.
- Improve career and vocational assistance for veterans through ensuring that job opportunities for returning veterans are included in Community Benefits Agreements for new federally-funded infrastructure projects.
- Deliver a higher standard of service and care, and ensure that a “one veteran, one standard” approach is upheld.
- Re-open the nine Veterans Affairs service offices recently closed, hire more service delivery staff, and fully implement all of the Auditor General’s recommendations on enhancing mental health service delivery to veterans.
- Create two new centres of excellence in veterans’ care, including one with a specialization in mental health, post-traumatic stress disorder and related issues for both veterans and first responders.
- Provide greater education, counselling, and training for families who are providing care and support to veterans living with physical and/or mental health issues as a result of their service.
- End the time limit for surviving spouses to apply for vocational rehabilitation and assistance services.
- Increase the veteran survivor’s pension amount from 50 percent to 70 percent.
- Eliminate the “marriage after 60” clawback clause, so that surviving spouses of veterans receive appropriate pension and health benefits.
- Double funding to the Last Post Fund to ensure that all veterans receive a dignified burial.
- Work with the Minister of National Defence to develop a suicide prevention strategy for Canadian Armed Forces personnel and veterans.
Let’s see how the work towards these priorities go, shall we?