Last month, Premier Kathleen Wynne offered Ontarians a window into an important factor in policy-making: the influence of our political leaders. For the first time in the province’s history, the premier has made public the direction she gives to her cabinet ministers.
What does this mean?
Every time a new cabinet is formed, ministers are given a mandate letter that outlines the general direction of the government and the premier’s specific expectations of that minister. The letter aligns with the political mandate of the governing party, which is usually laid out in that party’s election platform. While the key expectations for any given minister may seem fairly predictable, to date it has been impossible to know unless you were among a very small group of political or senior ministry staff—but these mandates matter. The mandate letter influences how each minister approaches his or her role, and it is likely to influence priorities and decisions. British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan make mandate letters publicly available, and we now have the benefit of this transparency in Ontario.
Ontario’s Water Mandate Water Canada