Backgrounder: Disability Inclusion Business Council



On December 7, 2022, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion announced the creation of the Disability Inclusion Business Council (Council).  As a supportive measure under the Employment pillar of the Government of Canada’s Disability Inclusion Action Plan, the Council will:

  • Develop and provide advice to the Minister on a pan-Canadian vision to improve the inclusion of persons with disabilities in Canadian businesses, including recommendations to support businesses on how to improve disability inclusion in the workplace; and,
  • work on incubating, designing and launching an independent, self-governed disability business network in 2023.

Building on the examples and experience of peer-to-peer disability inclusion initiatives, both domestic and international, the Council will be a one-year volunteer committee, comprised of up to 10 selected corporate leaders, including two co-chairs, who are committed to supporting disability inclusion.

Creating an advisory Council of senior business leaders to champion and advance disability inclusion in workplaces, provides an opportunity for Canada’s diverse business sectors to address the longstanding employment challenges faced by persons with disabilities, and the barriers faced by employers to creating inclusive workplaces.

Businesses that are disability inclusive tend to outperform other businesses in terms of: innovation and productivity; reduced turnover; increased morale; and improved safety records.

The members of the Disability Inclusion Business Council are:

  • Co-Chair: ANITA HUBERMAN, representing the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; President and CEO, Surrey Board of Trade. In her position, Ms. Huberman has implemented a number of projects and programs to ensure that persons with disabilities are a part of the workforce and business ecosystem. Ms. Huberman has an extensive record of community service and is considered a trailblazer advocating for business and organizational transformation.
  •  Co-Chair: PAUL CLARK, Head of Private Wealth Management and Financial Planning Executive Vice-President, TD Bank. Mr. Clark has also been chair of TD Bank’s Persons with Disabilities Committee for more than 13 years and has helped spearhead many of TD Bank’s disability-related initiatives. In October 2020, Mr. Clark wrote an article for LinkedIn entitled, “Shifting how we think about people with disabilities in the workplace”.
  • JAD SHIMALY, CEO of Ernst and Young (EY) Canada. Mr. Shimaly advocates for increasing diversity in the workplace.  He is a member of the United Way Greater Toronto Campaign Cabinet, and a board member of Pathways to Education, which seeks to help students reduce barriers to graduation. He is also on the board of directors of the BlackNorth Initiative, a Toronto non-profit organization seeking to remove anti-Black systemic barriers. He is a member of both the Business Council of Canada and of the Canadian Directors Network.
  • NAVEED IRSHAD, President and CEO, Manulife Canada. Mr. Irshad leads the implementation of the company’s growth strategy across the Canadian market. Since 2020, Manulife has committed to expanding funding for initiatives promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and the communities they serve. He is a Fellow of   the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) and is a Board Member of Ascend Canada (promoting Pan-Asian leadership).
  •  TAMARA VROOMAN, President and CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority.  Ms. Vrooman has championed disability inclusion as a member of the BC Presidents Group, as well as chair of the board of the Rick Hansen Foundation. She is the recipient of the Order of British Columbia (2019), Peter Lougheed Award for Leadership in Public Policy (2016) and BC CEO of the Year Award by Business in Vancouver in 2015, in the category of Major Private Company.
  • STEPHEN LIPTRAP, Former President and CEO of Lifeworks. Mr. Liptrap is active in promoting mental health in the workplace and was interviewed by the Toronto Star in December 2021 regarding the effects of the pandemic on mental health.  Mr. Liptrap is a signatory to the United Way’s Inclusive Local Economic Opportunity (ILEO) Charter. He has been a member of the national committee for the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s initiative called ‘The 150 leading Canadians for mental health’ and has served on the HR committee of the 2015 Pan Am games.
  • KARL BLACKBURN, President and CEO of the Conseil du patronat du Québec.   Mr. Blackburn has partnered with Québec’s Office des personnes handicapées du Québec for #Entreprise inclusive, to promote awareness and information related to the employment of persons with disabilities. Mr. Blackburn wrote an opinion piece for the Montreal Gazette in July 2021 that highlighted persons with disabilities as an untapped source of workers to address labour shortages.
  • DAVE McCANN, President of IBM Canada. Mr. McCann is also a board member of the not-for-profit organization, Lime Connect. The organization focuses on attracting, preparing and connecting high potential university students and alumni with disabilities for leadership programs, internships and full-time careers with their partners. In 2021, he was named one of Ottawa region’s Top 40 Under 40 for his professional achievements and community service.
  • ANDY CANHAM, President of SAP Canada. Mr. Canham is responsible for the company’s overall sales, strategy, customer and partner engagements, and driving growth across SAP’s cloud and product portfolio. Under his leadership, SAP Canada has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers in 2022 and years prior.
  • DIANE BRISEBOIS, President of Retail Council of Canada (RCC). Ms. Brisebois has held the position of President and Chief Executive Officer since 1995. The members of the organization represent Canada’s largest private sector employer. Under her leadership, the RCC has been dedicated to addressing accessibility and providing resources for their members with a variety of initiatives including a webinar series and a guidebook.

Consult the Disability Inclusion Business Council for more info.

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