By Diego Flammini
Canada’s federal minister of agriculture had some additional responsibilities placed in her portfolio.
Marie-Claude Bibeau and other members of Trudeau’s cabinet received supplementary mandate letters on Jan. 15.
These letters indicate “challenges that existed before the pandemic remain and others have been exacerbated” and that “nothing in this letter replaces any previous commitments or expectations.”
Prime Minister Trudeau has added multiple specific responsibilities to Bibeau’s mandate.
Minister Bibeau is to work with the ministers of northern affairs (Dan Vandal), minister of Indigenous services (Marc Miller) and the minister of families, children and social development (Ahmed Hussen) to address food security in the country and to work with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation representatives.
A report from the University of Toronto found in 2017-18, one in eight households in Canada was food insecure. This amounted to about 4.4 million people and more than 1.2 million children.
Another new part of the minister’s mandate is to support the minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion (Carla Qualtrough) to support and protect workers vulnerable to COVID-19 and fill workforce gaps in the industry.
Between February and May 2020, employment in the ag sector dropped by about 8 per cent, Statistics Canada data shows.
The prime minister has also asked Minister Bibeau to work with the minister of environment and climate change (Jonathan Wilkinson) to support farmers’ efforts to reduce emissions.
In addition, Minister Bibeau is to continue working with the supply-managed sectors to ensure farmers are compensated for recent trade agreements.
In November, the federal ag minister announced a timeline of payments for the supply management sector for market access concessions made under CETA and CPTPP.
The federal government plans to deliver $1.405 billion to dairy farmers over the next three years.
This is on top of $1.75 billion in payments over eight years the Trudeau government announced in 2019.
Minister Bibeau is prepared to fulfill her duties to support Canadian farmers.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed a lot of vulnerabilities in our society, but throughout this crisis, Canada’s food supply chain has remained robust,” she told Farms.com in an emailed statement. “Our farmers have shown incredible resilience, and our Government is committed to ensuring their businesses remain strong.
“We have made great strides toward fulfilling the objectives set out in my first mandate letter, and this supplementary mandate letter provides me with new objectives that seek to address some of the issues that arose in light of the pandemic.”