Minister Qualtrough welcomes Canada’s first Chief Accessibility Officer
May 2, 2022 Gatineau, Quebec Employment and Social Development Canada
This past year, the Government of Canada has continued to make significant progress implementing the Accessible Canada Act (the Act), reinforcing its commitment to advance accessibility and the inclusion of persons with disabilities
Today, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, welcomed Stephanie Cadieux on her first day as Canada’s first Chief Accessibility Officer (CAO). With the appointment of Ms. Cadieux and the recent appointment of Michael Gottheil as Canada’s first Accessibility Commissioner to the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), the Government has moved closer to the full implementation of the Act and the realization of a barrier-free Canada.
Over the course of Ms. Cadieux’s four-year term, she will serve as an independent special advisor to the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion providing advice on a wide range of accessibility issues. As CAO, Ms. Cadieux will monitor and report on systemic and emerging accessibility issues, and will produce an annual report to the Minister detailing progress and outcomes achieved under the Act.
A key objective for Ms. Cadieux and her team, will be to establish the Office of the CAO as a trusted source of information on accessibility, promoting a positive and productive dialogue between the federal government, disability stakeholders, and national and international organizations.
Stephanie Cadieux is a long-time advocate for accessibility, disability inclusion and diversity, with more than 15 years of experience in planning and leadership roles. A former elected member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, she is a member of the disability community, possessing extensive lived experience in government and as person with a disability.
“As Canada’s first Chief Accessibility Officer, Stephanie Cadieux will help identify and address issues related to accessibility and disability inclusion, working with the disability community. She brings both professional expertise and lived experience to the role, and I look forward to working with her to improve the lives of all Canadians with disabilities.”
– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough
“I am honoured to become the first Chief Accessibility Officer today, and be part of the effort to create a barrier-free Canada. As an independent advisor, I will have a vital duty to provide a clear and candid view of the Government’s commitment to the inclusion of persons with disabilities. My office will report about achievements made under the Accessible Canada Act, but we will also help draw and keep attention on important concerns in regards to accessibility. My greatest strengths are as a catalyst and convener and that is what I hope to bring to the role because the work ahead to foster a culture of inclusion will be dependent upon collaboration with partners and stakeholders in the federal government, the disability sector, and the Indigenous community. I am fully committed to support the meaningful change needed to achieve the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in Canada.”
– Chief Accessibility Officer, Stephanie Cadieux
According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability, there are 6.2 million Canadians aged 15 and older who have a disability. More than 1 in 10 youth in Canada have one or more disabilities.
The Accessible Canada Act came into force on July 11, 2019 and focuses on proactively identifying, removing and preventing barriers to accessibility. A major milestone of the Act was realized on December 13, 2021, with the coming into force of Accessible Canada Regulations, which require federally regulated organizations to report to the public on their policies and practices to identify and remove existing barriers.
The Act also established new structures and positions, including:
- a Chief Accessibility Officer;
- an Accessibility Commissioner, to spearhead compliance and enforcement activities under the legislation.
The appointment of Michael Gottheil for a five-year term as Accessibility Commissioner to the CHRC, will come into effect on May 9, 2022.
The Chief Accessibility Officer and Accessibility Commissioner were appointed through the Governor in Council (GIC) process. The Government is committed to open, transparent and merit-based processes for selecting GIC appointees, who play a fundamental role in Canadian democracy.
To meet the Act’s objective of realizing a barrier-free Canada, the Government is developing a Disability Inclusion Action Plan. It will focus on reducing poverty among persons with disabilities, getting them into good quality jobs and making it easier to access federal programs and services while fostering a culture of inclusion.
For media enquiries, please contact:
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion
Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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