Government of Canada creates the Disability Inclusion Business Council to champion and advance accessibility and inclusion in the work place 

News Release

December 7, 2022, Gatineau, Quebec        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


“The creation of the Disability Inclusion Business Council marks a significant step in prioritizing accessibility and disability inclusion in the workplace. The Council will work towards creating long-term benefits for businesses, the economy, persons with disabilities and all Canadians. Through this joint effort, we are making sure that Canadians with disabilities can fully participate in the workforce by ensuring they have equitable access to employment opportunities across the country.”

– Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough

“Diversity, equity and inclusion make the entire economy stronger. By making reasonable accommodations, business owners can bring in the best talent and create a competitive advantage by recruiting from a new pool of highly skilled workers, which is critical in addressing Canada’s labour and skills shortage.”
– President and CEO, Surrey Board of Trade, representing the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Co-Chair of the Disability Inclusion Business Council, Anita Huberman

“Organizations rightfully want to recruit differently abled people. However, they seem to always fall short on developing and building their careers. Just like anyone else, it’s important that we focus on development. We must recognize that the onus is both on ourselves and the person that we bring into the organization to create career opportunities. I want to encourage everyone to do their part in making their organization a more accessible place for our diversely abled colleagues. One thing we cannot lose sight of, especially in regard to our colleagues with disabilities, is talent retention and development.”

– Executive Vice President of TD Bank Group and Co-Chair of Disability Inclusion Business Council, Paul Clark

Quick facts

  • According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), approximately 3.7 million Canadians aged 25 to 64 have a disability. The same survey found that employment rates of persons with disabilities of the same age are much lower than those of Canadians without disabilities —59 per cent versus 80 per cent.
  • On September 23, 2020, the Government committed in its Speech from the Throne to create Canada’s first-ever Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) that includes a new Canada Disability Benefit, a robust employment strategy for Canadians with disabilities, and a better process to determine eligibility for federal disability programs and benefits. Launched on October 7, 2022, the DIAP includes 4 pillars for change:  financial security, employment, accessible and inclusive communities, and a modern approach to disability.
  • The Disability Inclusion Business Council will chart a path forward to establish a Canadian network for businesses to champion, advance and collaborate on workplace inclusivity.

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For media enquiries, please contact:

Tara Beauport
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
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