In 2018, Ontario Premier Doug Ford gave his cabinet ministers a series of instructions they were expected to carry out or explore during the government’s first term in office.
While the Ford government has been fighting in court to keep these mandate letters a secret, Global News obtained and independently verified the letters and has been revealing them in a new series called ‘Mandated’.
As the series unfolds, Global News will release the letters, in full, here.
Premier Doug Ford’s mandate letter to ministers
Dear Minister ___ :
Welcome to your new role as Minister of ___ . Thank you for accepting this position.
As we embark on the responsibilities of government I want to begin by emphasizing one point, we ran for election on a plan for the people. I am adamant that this will be a government for the people. Let me explain exactly what this means.
For far too long, too many people have been neglected or ignored by previous governments who become entrapped in a bubble of elite interests. I am determined that this will not happen to us.
As you assume the accountabilities of your portfolio you will be asked to make many important decisions. Before you take any action, be sure to ask yourself a simple question “is this good for the people?” and only pursue courses of action that, directly or indirectly, will make a positive difference for the kind of people who cannot afford expensive lobbyists or a career in full-time activism. These people will only have one voice in government — and that voice will be you.
This will require a new approach to decision making. Always ensure officials in your Ministry take the time to detail how any proposed policy or initiative will impact people on an individual basis. This is particularly true for any initiative that proposes an increase in direct or indirect cost on individuals, families or small businesses. That is not what we were elected to do.
In your communications on behalf of the government I encourage you to do what I strive to do and eliminate the middleman. You are talking directly to the people, and offering them real change, opportunity and hope. Put dollar figures, legislative initiatives and regulatory decisions in language that everyday people understand. Always emphasize the end benefits of our decisions for people over secondary details about protocol or process. Everyone, regardless of their education, background or experience, should feel like they understand our agenda and have a stake in the outcome.
Our plan for the people was rooted in five core commitments to Ontarians. They will touch on different Ministries in different ways. I expect every single member of my Cabinet will know all five commitments by heart.
We will put more money in your pocket by scrapping the carbon tax, reducing gas prices by 10 cents per litre and giving real tax relief to lower and middle class families.
We will clean up the hydro mess by firing the CEO of Hydro One and lowering Ontario hydro bills by 12%.
We will create good jobs by sending the message that ‘Ontario is open for business’ and by bringing quality jobs back to Ontario by lowering taxes, stabilizing hydro bills and cutting job-killing red tape.
We will restore accountability and trust by ordering a line-by-line audit of government spending and by bringing an end to the culture of waste and mismanagement in government.
And, we will cut hospital wait times and end hallway health care by creating 15,000 new long-term care beds over the next five years and adding $3.8 billion in support for mental health, addictions and supportive housing.
As we begin our work restoring Ontario’s economic strength, the taxpayer must come first. We will deliver for Ontario’s families and businesses. We must always remember we hold many responsibilities – first and foremost – to serve the people of Ontario and the issues that matter most to them.
As we move ahead with our plan to restore a strong economy and to make life more affordable for the great people of this province, we will begin to do so by eliminating wasteful government spending, cutting red tape and by making government more efficient. We will do this hard work so that we can invest in priorities for our most vulnerable and to help Ontario families and businesses make ends meet.
As Premier of this province, I expect that each ministry and its respective minister maintain our commitment to bringing relief to families and making Ontario a place that is open for business again. As minister, I trust that your ministry will adhere to the program-spending guidelines that have been established. It is my duty to inform you that the President of the Treasury Board – in collaboration with the Minister of Finance – will be working alongside you and your new fellow ministers to ensure that our new government will achieve the fiscal positions that we have committed to. Ultimately, we will return the province to budget balance as quickly as possible.
I also expect you to be accountable for your promises and to work collaboratively with officials from my office to ensure that our government will always speak with one voice in delivering on our shared plan. I also expect you to hold yourself to the highest ethical standard, both on and off the job, and lead by example in fostering a culture of respect within your office and in your ministry.
We must show Ontarians why they can believe in government again and why they can trust their publicly elected officials. I expect the opposition to hold us to account – and rightfully so – but I will also personally be holding you accountable for your actions.
Throughout the next four years, we will get this province back on track. I am committed to this goal, and I know that you are committed to this goal as well. Together we will once again make Ontario the economic engine of Canada. We will use a growing economy to provide high-quality services that are the envy of the world. And we will govern as a united team who are loyal to one another and to the people who elected us.
While the policies I have listed in this letter will be your top priorities, I ask that you be ready to deal with challenges that will inevitably arise during our mandate. As minister, your ministry may be responsible for carrying out other objectives that we establish while we move forward with our plan for Ontario. With this mandate letter, you can begin to lead your ministry in achieving the policy objectives that we have established, and those that may eventually arise.
Our new government is committed to undoing the damage that was done by the previous administration. Therefore, I request that you work on building effective working relationships with the Ontario Public Service, the broader public sector, various levels of government, and the private, non-profit, and voluntary sectors.
We will be accountable for our actions. We will deliver results. We will fulfill our promises. I look forward to working in partnership with you, so that we can get this province back on track and deliver our commitment to respect the great people of Ontario.
Premier Doug Ford
Mandated: Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
- Provide additional resources to the Ontario Autism Program and consult with families and stakeholders to ensure it helps as many families with children with autism as possible.
- Work closely with the Minister of Health and Long-Term care to best deploy the $3.8 billion total investment in mental health supports. For our most vulnerable, your work should focus on potential investments in supportive housing and anti-addiction programs. For Ontario’s children, your work should focus on potential investments in psychiatric facilities for teens, children’s mental health supports inside and outside the school system and preventing youth suicides.
- Stand up for Ontario in the face of an ever-changing immigration landscape while asserting respect for legal immigration channels in the face of emerging immigration issues.
- Work with the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care to implement free dental services for seniors with lower-incomes. Consider the interaction between this program and existing dental assistance programs for low-income Ontarians.
- Work with the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Attorney General to fight human trafficking in Ontario and increase awareness of the issue with the ultimate goal of protecting our children.
- Review the relationship between government support programs (Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program) and earned income. Report back with reforms that ease the transition back to the workforce, remove barriers to finding employment, and ensure the removal of benefits is transitioned out properly and effectively to allow individuals to stay in the labour force once they return to it. This review should focus on reducing the number of people on social assistance and decreasing the cost of administering these programs by considering reforms such as the combination of the administration of Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Program.
- Work closely with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Labour to consider the impact of our new minimum wage tax credit.
- Take ownership of Ontario’s poverty reduction strategy and evaluate reforms to better improve the lives of Ontario’s poor and help them break out of the poverty cycle.
- Improve co-ordination between children’s aid societies and evaluate how to properly implement the Child Protection Information Network to reduce costs and increase the effectiveness of our children’s aid societies.
- Re-examine Ontario’s adoption system and ensure that it protects the best interests of Ontario’s children while making it easier for families looking to give those children a permanent home.
This story is part of the new Global News series ‘Mandated.’ Over several days, a series of stories will reveal the contents of the Ford government’s first set of mandate letters, handed to ministers after the party formed government in 2018. The letters have been kept secret since Doug Ford’s first election — a battle that has gone all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Photo illustration by Janet Cordahi