Canada creates Disability Inclusion Business Council to champion and advance accessibility and inclusion

Employment and Social Development Canada

Approximately 2.2 million working age Canadians with disabilities are employed, and an additional 645,000, who are not employed and not in school, have the potential to work[1] and could help fill vacant job positions across the country. Persons with disabilities are disproportionately underrepresented in the labour force and face a range of physical, attitudinal, and institutional barriers that prevent access to the workforce. For these reasons, as part of its Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP), the Government of Canada is taking action to increase accessibility and inclusion in Canadian businesses and workplaces.

Today, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced the creation of a Disability Inclusion Business Council (DIBC), and met with Council members virtually on the evening of December 6, 2022, at their inaugural meeting. The DIBC is made up of business leaders from a wide array of sectors across the country, who are dedicated to promoting cultural change on disability inclusion in the workplace.

The Council includes the following members:

  • Paul Clark, co-chair (TD Bank Group),
  • Anita Huberman, co-chair (Surrey Board of Trade, representing the Canadian Chamber of Commerce network)
  • Jad Shimaly (EY Canada)
  • Naveed Irshad (Manulife Canada)
  • Tamara Vrooman (Vancouver Airport Authority)
  • Stephen Liptrap (Former CEO of Lifeworks)
  • Karl Blackburn (Conseil du patronat du Québec)
  • Andy Canham (SAP Canada)
  • Diane Brisebois (Retail Council of Canada)
  • Dave McCann (IBM Canada)

As a supporting element of the Employment pillar of the DIAP, these senior business leaders form a Council that will:

  • provide a final report detailing advice and recommendations to the Minister on how to improve workplace inclusivity and support for Canadian businesses to become more disability confident and inclusive of persons with disabilities; and,
  • incubate, design and launch a pan-Canadian independent disability business network by late 2023, which is led by and for employers.

The DIBC will be supported by two disability experts who will provide advice:

  • Pina D’Intino (Aequum Global Access Inc.)
  • Susan Scott-Parker (Business Disability International Ltd

The DIBC provides an opportunity for corporate Canada to lead the charge on addressing the challenges faced by persons with disabilities in gaining and maintaining employment, and by employers in creating fully inclusive workplaces, resulting in lasting cultural change.

[1] Statistique Canada, Enquête canadienne sur l’incapacité, 2017

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