Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities - Annual Report 2012-2013 - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities - Annual Report 2012-2013

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Table of Contents

Letter of Transmittal

September 1, 2013

Honourable Alison Redford
Premier of Alberta
307 Legislature Building
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2B7

Dear Premier Redford:

I am pleased to present the 24th Annual Report of the Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities. This report covers the activities undertaken by your Council during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2013. It is submitted in accordance with s.7 (1) of the Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities Act for your presentation to the Legislative Assembly.

Respectfully submitted,
Mike Hambly, Chair
Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities


Letter from the Chair

The Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities aims to improve the lives of persons with disabilities by listening to issues of the disability community and communicating those issues to government. The attached document summarizes Council's activities for the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2013.

It has been an exciting year, which began with the development of Alberta's Social Policy Framework (SPF). The Council was actively involved in contributing to the development of the SPF, and we continue to support this framework as a guide to creating opportunities for Albertans to reach their potential.

To learn more and seek future opportunities for collaboration, Council met with leaders from other advisory bodies in Alberta, including MLA for Calgary-Bow, Ms. Alana DeLong of the Seniors Advisory Council of Alberta and Mark Iantkow of the Barrier Free Advisory Council.

Council welcomed the re-organization that shifted us to the Ministry of Human Services. This presented a strong opportunity for alignment as the Ministry's core business is to work collaboratively with community partners to deliver citizen-centered programs and services that improve quality of life for Albertans. Council was also pleased to welcome the Honourable Frank Oberle, Associate Minister of Services for Persons with Disabilities, as the new Deputy Chair of Council.

We would also like to thank former Council member Austin Mardon for his dedication to the work of Council from 2005 – 2013. Austin, who received the Order of Canada for Mental Health Advocacy, was a valued and respected member of the Council.

Thank you to Council members and the Secretariat for their hard work and commitment over the past year. Our team effort will help us continue on the path to full inclusion for persons with disabilities.

Mike Hambly, Chair
Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities


Vision and Mission


Alberta is an inclusive and barrier-free society.


The mission of the Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities (Council) is to advise, report to, and make recommendations to the Government of Alberta (GoA) on matters relating to the opportunity for full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in the life of the province. It does this by listening to the opinions of the disability community, communicating their ideas and concerns to the GoA and the broader community, and working with governments, community organizations, and other stakeholders towards solutions.


Highlights of Council Activities

Council members live in various locations throughout Alberta, and in order to perform their work, they communicated via e-mail, held regular teleconferences, and participated in two in-person meetings held in Edmonton. Council focused its work on the following key areas:

Goal 1 – Be a resource for and provide advice to government on policies, programs and services that may impact persons with disabilities.

Goal 2 – Engage the community to provide input into government priorities and activities that impact people with disabilities.

During the past year, Council updated their Mandate and Roles document to effectively align with the Premier's vision of an active, strategic advisory body that is a resource to government and a voice for community on issues that affect persons with disabilities. The result is a more focused, intentional direction for Council. The revised mandate and roles document was approved by Council and the Associate Minister in September 2012, and is posted on the Premier's Council website at

Council also participated in the recruitment to vacant positions and helped to broaden the competency base and skill set requirements for future Council members. New members are expected to be appointed to Council in 2013-14.


Working Groups

Council hears a number of issues of concern from the disability community. Council identified two priority areas where they will focus their work: employment for persons with disabilities, and finding and retaining suitable caregivers for persons with disabilities.


Over the years, Council has been hearing about the challenges faced by people with disabilities as they seek to enter and advance in the workforce. Council created a working group to examine and address these issues. The working group was able to connect with leaders of the proposed Alberta Employment First Strategy, a Government of Alberta initiative exploring ways of increasing the participation of persons with disabilities in the Alberta labour force.  The plan is to build on existing work, programs and initiatives and to look at new ways to create opportunities. Council will contribute policy advice and assist in the development of an employment strategy.


The Caregiver Gaps and Risks working group was formed to develop advice regarding the issues that families and agencies are facing as they work to attract, recruit, develop and retain staff from Alberta's labour force to deliver caregiver services to vulnerable Albertans. The group discussed the issues and explored opportunities to align with ongoing government initiatives working to address concerns in this area. The Workforce Alliance initiative, led by Human Services, is taking an in-depth look at many issues facing the workforce that delivers services to vulnerable Albertans. Council has connected with the Workforce Alliance and expressed their interest in participating in future dialogue and responding to strategies that emerge from it.


Advice and Support to Government

Social Policy Framework

In 2012, the Government of Alberta began building the Social Policy Framework (SPF), which will serve as the blueprint for the development and implementation of all social policy in Alberta.

Council was invited to be actively involved in the development of the SPF. Members were asked to encourage the community to participate and provide input from the perspective of persons with disabilities. Council provided feedback on the community engagement tool kit, and advised on alternate formats and accessibility to ensure all people, including those with disabilities, had opportunities to contribute to the SPF.

To encourage public input on the SPF, Council also hosted community conversations and facilitated public sessions. Council submitted a document to Minister Hancock that represented their work, including a compilation of what they heard in the community, insights, consensus and recommendations on key priorities.

When the SPF was released on February 28, 2013, Council was pleased to see that it reflected several themes that are important to people with disabilities. For example, the framework recognizes persons with disabilities may face barriers or challenges in their efforts to live independently and be included in community life. In order to produce better outcomes, the framework identifies the need to address issues such as access to services and supports, promoting the concepts of dignity and inclusion, and focusing on preventative actions. Council intends to continue its support of this framework and the positive changes that will occur as a result of this initiative.

Policy Advice

Council supported other government departments and program initiatives by providing advice on alternate communications formats, reviewing program policy, and sharing relevant research to help government build strong policy for programs that provide services to people with disabilities

Each of these occasions offered an opportunity for Council to provide cross-disability recommendations based on their expertise and feedback from the community.

Learning disabilities policy forum

The Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta (LDAA) invited Council to participate in the development of a provincial framework on learning disabilities that included almost 100 other participants, comprised of leaders in Alberta from education, health, industry, labour, justice, human services and disability supports. Council was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this discussion and provide advice and recommendations from a community perspective. The policy forum was the first step towards creating a comprehensive provincial policy framework on learning disabilities. Council recognizes that learning disabilities touch all aspects of a person's life, accompanied by profound economic, health and social consequences. The LDAA plans to use the framework extensively to help inform and shape public policy in order to create the best possible society for the 365,000 Albertans who live with learning disabilities.

FASD Prevention

Council was invited to provide input into the development of a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Prevention Charter. Council looks forward to continued discussions and supporting the work of FASD prevention. The Government of Alberta has committed to an FASD 10-year strategic plan, which is focused on reducing the incidence of FASD and providing supports to Albertans living with FASD. The Associate Minister of Services for Persons with Disabilities' mandate includes a focus on decreasing the incidence of FASD.

Provincial Budget

Council attended a budget briefing held by Human Services in March 2013. They had the opportunity to discuss with other community stakeholders budget changes that may impact persons with disabilities. Council recognized that the current fiscal environment presents both challenges and opportunities, and that some program changes may affect persons with disabilities.

The Council was eager to learn more and contribute to the dialogue regarding change over the year to come. Council has committed to present feedback on the anticipated impacts of the budget on persons with disabilities.

Connecting Community

Council continues to work with a number of community groups such as the Alberta Committee of Citizens with Disabilities and the Alberta Disability Forum (ADF). Council is developing linkages with the Barrier Free Council and Seniors Advisory Council of Alberta, and has a representative on the Home for Life committee.


International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) is celebrated each year on December 3rd, to increase awareness and education about the rights and abilities of people with disabilities. IDPD encourages Albertans to celebrate the achievements of persons with disabilities and to make full citizenship a reality for all. IDPD is recognized in communities across Alberta.

Each year Council encourages communities to organize IDPD events in collaboration with local organizations. Council promotes IDPD events in Alberta through Government of Alberta resources such as; Information Bulletins, News Releases, an announcement in the Alberta legislature and internet advertising.

Limited funding was available to help organizing committees plan International Day of Persons with Disabilities events in their communities. In 2012, the process of providing funding moved to an open competition and seven communities in Alberta received funding to support their IDPD event. Information on applying for funding is on the Council's website


Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities Awards 2012

Individuals, teams or organizations from across Alberta are recognized annually by Council for their commitment to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities. The Council coordinated the award presentations at IDPD events through the local organizing committees.

A new award, the Marlin Styner Achievement Award, was created to acknowledge the passion and commitment of Mr. Marlin Styner. Marlin was a member of the Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities from 2005-2008 and Council Chair from 2008-2011. Marlin has volunteered and worked within the disability community since 1981. He has been an advocate for persons with disabilities and a public speaker on diverse topics such as injury prevention, motivation, universal design and barrier free access, transition and living with a disability, and disability and travel. Marlin has received multiple awards and recognition for his work including the Alberta Centennial Medal for Service to the Community. The Marlin Styner Award is presented to an individual living with a disability who has demonstrated outstanding achievement.

The Deputy Chair of Council, Honourable Frank Oberle, presented a Council Award at the IDPD event in Edmonton, along with Council Member Ms. Carmen Wyton. Other Council Members who presented Awards at IDPD events throughout Alberta were Dr. John Latter, Ms. Amber Skoog, and Mr. Dan Bojarski. In addition, Council members attended IDPD events in their own communities.

Every year, Council receives many quality nominations for these awards. It was wonderful to see the contributions that Albertans, including those with disabilities, made towards reducing barriers and creating more inclusive communities.

More information on the award ceremonies and events across the province is available online at

Premier's Council Gary McPherson Leadership Award

Mezaun Lakha-Evin — Calgary

As the Associate Executive Director of the Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta, Ms. Mezaun Lakha-Evin has demonstrated enthusiasm, dedication and leadership to improve the lives of persons with disabilities. Mezaun believes it takes a community to support a community and continues to be a strong voice for fair and equal citizenship for persons with disabilities. These are values that Gary McPherson held. Mezaun has represented the interests of people with disabilities on the city Advisory Committee Accessibility sub-committee, the Accessible and Affordable Housing Policy Group, Governors for Children Board and Alberta Disabilities Forum. In collaboration with the United Way of Calgary, Mezaun led the creation of the Calgary Ability Network (CAN), which now has a membership of over 100 agencies. The purpose of this group is to engage people, government, groups and organizations in meaningful dialogue to work towards full citizenship for people with disabilities and create a platform within the community to influence policy and decision-making. Mezaun continues to be an active member of CAN.

The greatest gift that Mezaun brings is her ability to connect people and groups together to work towards solutions that improve the lives of persons with disabilities.

The Gary McPherson Leadership Award is awarded to individual Albertans who have demonstrated outstanding leadership or achievement in enriching the lives of persons with disabilities and who exemplify the qualities and values Dr. Gary McPherson held.

Premier's Council Marlin Styner Achievement Award

Mark Iantkow — Calgary

Mr. Mark Iantkow's mission is to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities by promoting, advocating and implementing inclusive design. He is a PhD Candidate with the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, University of Calgary, holding a Canadian Disability Policy Alliance scholarship. By 2014, he plans to present his dissertation for his PhD study on the overall best approach to educating environmental designers on inclusive design. Mark was the first Chairperson for the City of Calgary Advisory Committee on Accessibility and is currently a member. He is also the Chairperson for the Barrier Free sub-council of the Alberta Safety Codes Council. In 2010, Mark was a key contributor to the City of Calgary's Universal Design Handbook and Access Design Standards, a rationale and methods for building inclusive environments. Mark has received a multitude of awards over the years. His knowledge, expertise and life experiences are a benefit to all Albertans.

The Marlin Styner Achievement Award is awarded to an individual Albertan who has a disability and who, through their personal or professional achievements, has brought greater recognition to the abilities of all persons with disabilities.

Premier's Council Award of Excellence in Public Awareness

Dory Rossiter — Lethbridge

Ms. Dory Rossiter's goal is to raise awareness, eliminate stigma and help the public develop a sense of empathy and a desire to see positive changes that would benefit persons living with disabilities. Ms. Rossiter is a reporter, and as such is able to report on a variety of topics and places within the community. She has contributed to a video that is now an educational tool for police on how to gather witness information from people with disabilities. She is actively involved in reporting on community events that involve persons with disabilities and completed over 40 features on the topic of Schizophrenia and related mental illnesses. Ms. Rossiter believes that reporting on disability topics through the media will foster positive changes for persons with disabilities.

The Award of Excellence in Public Awareness is awarded to a person, team or organization that has increased the public's awareness of the benefits and value of a barrier-free, inclusive community.

Premier's Council Award of Excellence in Employment

Camrose Association for Community Living Training Mentorship Program — Camrose

In the Training Mentorship Program, individuals with disabilities train disability support workers. As a result of this program, individuals with disabilities hold valued roles as trainers, employees become advocates for the people they support, and individuals receiving services are treated with dignity and respect. The training encompasses informed choice and consent, and client rights and responsibilities. This program models the benefits of employing individuals with disabilities to other organizations in the community, and provides opportunities for the trainers to explore their passion for presentation and public speaking.

The Award of Excellence in Employment is awarded to a person, team or organization that has made a significant contribution to a barrier-free, inclusive environment within the workplace.

Premier's Council Award of Excellence in Education

Early Access to Supportive Education School (EASE) — Red Deer

Early Access to Supportive Education School, or EASE, is a preschool for young children ages 2½ to 6 years who have severe disabilities. The school is part of Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre, a non-profit offering a variety of programs and services for children with unique needs, their families, and communities that support them. The guiding philosophy focuses on the child first, and any challenges are secondary. Individual program plans are developed by an interdisciplinary team that includes the parents. In 2011, the EASE program, as part of Aspire, received the Alberta School Boards Zone 4 Friends of Education Award recognizing its special contribution to education in Central Alberta.

The Award of Excellence in Education is awarded to a person, team or organization that has made a significant contribution to a barrier-free, inclusive program, classroom or facility.

Premier's Council Award of Excellence in Community

The City of Red Deer

The City of Red Deer has demonstrated the ability to create a more accessible city for people with disabilities. They have achieved this by listening to the community and working together to support and provide services to citizens with disabilities. The City supported projects and initiatives led by persons with disabilities. They also created accessible transportation services, supporting ease of movement of persons with disabilities when using transit and walking around Red Deer. All city buses are low floor buses and stops are paved. The City also made changes to the application process and cost of city recreation facility passes to include all citizens. When the Olympic torch came to Red Deer through the International Day of Persons with Disabilities planning committee, the City waived the facility costs. The City of Red Deer has made great strides in support of persons with disabilities.

Reducing the Social Isolation of Rural Deaf Albertans Project Team — Sherwood Park

The team consists of: the Alberta Rural Development Network, which coordinates the project; Alberta Association of the Deaf, which identified the need for this project and will support the adoption in the rural deaf community; the University of Alberta, which is doing the research; and the Ministry of Health, which provided funding.

Deaf Albertans have less access to the resources that are generally available to hearing citizens. The goal of this project is to reduce the feelings of isolation and improve support for rural deaf Albertans through the use of services and technology that will facilitate communication among rural deaf Albertans. This technology means the majority of costs are one-time. This will provide deaf Albertans the opportunity to live, work and play in rural Alberta without the added barriers of isolation and extremely limited communication.

The Award of Excellence in Community is awarded to a person, team or organization that has made a significant contribution to a barrier-free, inclusive environment within their community.


Council Members' Biographies

Mr. Mike Hambly — Chair

Mike Hambly of Calgary currently owns and operates a business that works to decrease barriers for people with disabilities, for example, putting braille on business cards for alternate format and marketing purposes. Mike has worked in the not-for-profit sector, including the Canadian Paraplegic Association, the Independent Living Resource Centre and the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. He has participated on a number of committees, including the Access Calgary Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee on Accessibility, and many other related disability committees.

Mike brings a unique perspective to Council. He is blind, has paraplegia and uses a guide dog that has been trained to support his use of a manual wheelchair.

The Honourable Frank Oberle — Deputy Chair

Frank Oberle is the MLA for Peace River and Associate Minister of Services for Persons with Disabilities. Mr. Oberle has also previously served as Minister of Sustainable Resource Development, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security, and Chief Government Whip.

He has a bachelor of science in forestry from the University of New Brunswick, and won the Governor General's award (gold medal) in forestry in 1988.

Mr. Oberle is an active member of the community and has been involved with many boards and organizations, including the Métis Harvesting Committee, the Alberta Forest Research Institute, the Economic Development Board for Peace River, RCMP Community Advisory Board, and Peace River town council.

He and his wife, Debbie, have two children and in his spare time he enjoys fishing, woodworking and river boating.

Dr. Austin Mardon

Austin Mardon of Edmonton has been a member of several committees over the years, including the Edmonton Public Library Board, the Alberta Disabilities Forum, the Edmonton Clubhouse Society, the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta (Edmonton Chapter), and the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta (Provincial Chapter).

He lives with a mental illness and believes that including people with mental illnesses in the community is important and can substantially improve their quality of life.

Austin has authored over 200 peer-reviewed articles and several books. He received the Congressional Antarctic Service Medal (U.S) in 1988, and in October of 2007 was invested with the Order of Canada for Mental Health Advocacy.

Mr. Dan Bojarski

Dan Bojarski is from St. Brides, near St. Paul. He is a businessman who has demonstrated great capacity for and success in hiring employees with a variety of disabilities.

As a result of his experiences, Dan promotes inclusive employment practices. He is an industrial engineering technologist and past director of the St. Paul and District Chamber of Commerce. Currently, Dan is the president of Two Hills and District Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. Bryce Clarke

Bryce Clarke of Ardrossan has worked as a police officer with the Edmonton Police Service for over ten years.

He is proficient at public speaking and conflict resolution, and has been honorary Chair of the Edmonton Rick Hanson Wheels in Motion event.

Bryce is involved in the Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) program at the University of Alberta's Steadward Center. This exercise clinic offers assisted physical activity opportunities to individuals with spinal cord injuries.

As a quadriplegic, Bryce brings to Council his experiences of living with a disability in a rural area.

Dr. John Latter

John Latter is from Calgary and is currently a professor and the Medical Director of Pediatric Rehabilitation at the Alberta Children's Hospital.

John's career includes many years of dedication and special interest in the area of children and youth with physical disabilities.

Ms. Amber Skoog

Amber Skoog of Picture Butte, near Lethbridge, lives with reduced vision. She currently works as an alternate format editor and learning strategist with Lethbridge College.

Amber has various certifications in health and education. She has considerable experience working with seniors and persons with disabilities.

Amber is dedicated to using her personal experience and substantial knowledge to address disability issues for individuals and communities.

Ms. Pamela Wagner

Pamela Wagner is a registered social worker and certified human resources professional. She has worked for 30 years in not-for-profit disability service organizations, helping people and organizations make a better connection between themselves and their environment.

Pam holds a Master of Educational Psychology degree with a specialization in rehabilitation services. She owns and operates a human resources company in Medicine Hat and previously served on the board of the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work.

Ms. Carmen Wyton

Carmen Wyton of St. Albert currently works in stakeholder relations and previously was the president and CEO of Special Olympics Alberta. She has also been the president and executive director of the Multiple Sclerosis Society (Alberta Division), director of development for the Arthritis Society (Alberta and NWT Division), managing director of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and executive director of the Southeast Edmonton Seniors Association.

Carmen is well known and respected for her knowledge of and commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities. She is recognized for her ability to apply innovative programming to meet the needs of organizations and clients.

As Carmen herself has Multiple Sclerosis, she also brings the perspective of having a progressive disability.


Financial Information

Council is supported by a Secretariat through the Ministry of Human Services. Expenditure officer authority resides with the Ministry. Council is not directly responsible for its budget or expenditures, but does have input into decisions that affect how resources are allocated. Council receives reports as to expenditures related to its activities.

Council is allocated a budget each year to cover the expenses associated with meeting its mandate and business plan objectives. Typical expenses include honoraria and expenses for members, meeting costs, IDPD contracts, and production of communication materials and the annual report. Council members are paid honoraria in accordance with the rates set by the Government of Alberta in the Committee Remuneration Orders. Council expended $ 118,585.87 in 2012 – 2013. Council's expenditures are included in the Ministry's annual report.


Contact Information

Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Box 232 HSBC Building
Suite 1110, 10055 – 106 Street
Edmonton, AB T5J 1G3

Telephone*: 780-422-1095
*To phone or Fax toll free outside of Edmonton, first dial 310-0000
Individuals that use TTY can contact the message relay service at
711 for assistance in contacting the Premier's Council office.


Created: 2013-11-21
PID: 17332