Newly released ministerial mandate letters released Friday point to a continued focus on supporting businesses throughout the COVID-19 crises for the ministers responsible for Canada’s innovation economy.
With the previous mandate letters dating to December 2019, the new mandates for all of Trudeau’s ministers put heavy emphasis on the pandemic. They also follow a shuffle in the prime minister’s cabinet, including newly appointed Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry François-Philippe Champagne who stepped into the role as Navdeep Bains announced he would not seek reelection and left his spot in cabinet.
For his part, Minister Champagne is tasked with focusing on a variety of items, many of which include COVID-19, such as the exposure app, investments in bio-manufacturing and vaccine procurement, and where outlined in the most recent economic statement. The letter points to a more heavy emphasis on such things over the general Canadian innovation economy, but does include some points for the sector. These include supporting the deputy prime minister (and minister of finance) to create over one million jobs “by leveraging the strength of Canada’s innovation economy;” and working to “safeguard” Canada’s research ecosystem and intellectual property (IP)-focused businesses.
Champagne’s other priorities based on the new mandate letter include: supporting the federal government’s climate plan, including through a Net-Zero Accelerator Fund and working with cleantech companies in the prairies; the continued implementation of the Universal Broadband Fund; “ensure that the revenues of web giants are shared more fairly with our creators and media, and require them to contribute to the creation, production and distribution of our stories;” and continued promotion and adoption of the 50 – 30 Challenge.
Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Mêlanie Joly’s new mandate letter puts heavy emphasis on regional and small business support amid the pandemic, notably through the RDAs. Her tasks include ensuring the creation of two distinct RDAs for the Prairies and Western Canada and working with other RDAs on specific initiatives in each region, such as investing in renewable, sustainable and affordable sources of energy through the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.
Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng’s new mandate letter focuses on increasing international trade; continued focus on the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy; as well as support for small businesses that includes still working towards reducing the cost of incorporating a company in Canada by 75 percent, eliminating the “swipe fee” on HST and GST for credit transactions, and creating the Canada Entrepreneur Account.