Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities - Annual Report 2015-16 - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities - Annual Report 2015-16

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Table of Contents

Letter of Transmittal

September 15, 2016

Honourable Rachel Notley
Premier of Alberta
307 Legislature Building
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 2B7

Dear Premier Notley:

On behalf of Council, I am pleased to present the 27th 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, 2016. 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,

Bill Brandon, Acting Chair
Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities


Reflections from the Chair:

Council's efforts are directed to achieving its vision of a barrier-free and inclusive Alberta for all persons with disabilities.

We began 2015-16 by taking a close look at our business plan. Our priorities are connecting with the community, providing advice and insights to government and ensuring that as a Council we remain accountable and transparent in what we do.

To help us improve our understanding of the barriers persons with disabilities face we fine-tuned how we connect and communicate with the disability community. We have created new tools to store, analyze and share the information we collect. We are listening to service providers, representative organizations and persons with disabilities and their families and caregivers.

Members of Council participated in conferences, presentations and events across the province, and at our meetings there were presentations on current topics related to our work. Council continued its support and participation across the province in events and awards to celebrate the International Day for Persons with Disabilities (IDPD).

Council was asked for advice on many topics including physician assisted dying, Advanced Education's Transition Planning Guide Accessibility Project and minimum wage. We held facilitated discussion to assist us with determining what advice we would give on each topic.

Council wants to recognize and celebrate the contribution of Carmen Wyton. She was a committed and dedicated member of Council for seven years and Council Chair the past two years. We will miss her leadership, her energy, her knowledge of the sector and her keen strategic mind.

We would also like to thank the Secretariat for supporting and assisting in the work of Council. Thank you to all the stakeholders for continuing to be a part of the conversation.


Bill Brandon, Acting Chair
Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities


Council Governance

The Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities (Council) was established in 1988 through the Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities Act.

Legislation Update

The amendment act was introduced in 2013 to update the Premier's Council legislation. Updates to the act allow Council to play a much larger role in working with the community and advising government on policies and issues that affect people with disabilities. Council can advise on opportunities for innovation, and focus on aligning Alberta policies and programs with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


Council's 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 is to advise, report to, and make recommendations to the Government of Alberta about 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 government and the broader community, and working with governments, community organizations, and other stakeholders toward solutions.


About the Council

The Council is supported by the Ministry of Human Services and consists of up to 15 Council members. Members of the public are recruited to vacant positions when needed. The Council position descriptions outline skills, experience, knowledge and diversity required so Council will have a cross-disability perspective and provide the best possible advice to government. Members are appointed by Orders in Council. All members appointed receive an orientation to the Council.

For more information, visit

This past year, Council held nine meetings. Three of the meetings were in-person in Edmonton, and the remainder were via teleconference. These meetings focused on advising, reporting and making recommendations to the Government of Alberta on current issues relating to full and equal participation of persons with disabilities in the province.


Our Community Connections

Council continued to be actively connected with communities throughout the province. Some examples are:

Council supported the Royal Alberta Museum in their wrap up event in Edmonton.

A Council member attended a local agency open house in Medicine Hat for "Being Human."

Chair met with the Alberta Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Family Advisory Council and spoke about Council and promoting inclusion for all Albertans.

Council member attended the City of Calgary Access Committee meeting and spoke about Council and promoting inclusion for all Albertans.

Council presented to the Family Support for Children with Disabilities - Provincial Parent Advisory Committee and to the Edmonton and Calgary regional committees.

A member of Council met with parents and staff at the Calgary FSCD office and provided a brief overview of the Premier's Council and the process used in providing advice to government.

A Council member was a guest on the SHAW TV Show, "The Pam & Peggy Show" (Medicine Hat) in January 2016. Information was shared about the work of Council to promote inclusion.

Chair met with Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) in Edmonton, to discuss each other's work on inclusion for persons with disabilities.

A Council member attended a meeting at Bow Valley College with post-secondary Accessibility and Disability Resource Association, Alberta.

Council worked with community on a number of committees towards full inclusion of persons with disabilities including being presenters at the Alberta Disability Forum meeting – representing approximately 47 disability organizations in Alberta.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on December 3 – Council provided support to over a dozen communities in Alberta that held events to increase awareness of diverse abilities and promote inclusion for Albertans with disabilities. Council attended events in their local communities and presented six awards to recognize Albertans who have demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership in promoting inclusion.


Highlights of Council Activities

Alberta Disability Forum

  • Council was invited to the Alberta Disability Forum in March for a meeting with the attending members. The meeting was to discuss shared vision and mission for inclusion of Albertans with disabilities.

Advanced Education

  • Council has continued to provide feedback into 2015/16 on the updated versions of the Transition Planning Guide for Students with Disabilities and Their Families. This guide bridges the gap between high school and postsecondary education.

Environment and Parks

  • Council responded to an Albertan who had an experience of not being able to access a RV sanitary dump station at one of the Alberta Parks. Council was able to assist the Department to resolve the barrier by linking to the building code in regards to RV Dump Stations.


  • Council provided feedback on the Health Charter and Health Advocate Regulation.
  • Council provided input into the Mental Health Review by completing a detailed questionnaire.
  • Physician Assisted Death Policies – considerations for the provincial policy development from the perspective of persons with disabilities.

Human Services

  • A Council member was invited to join the PDD Safety Standards Committee. They completed a review process and provided recommendations to government based on what they heard from the community.


  • The Chair attended a consultation meeting on the potential increase of the Alberta minimum wage and provided a disability perspective through Council input.
  • Feedback on the 2015 Discussion Guide on Essential Services Legislation for Alberta's Public Sector.

Service Alberta

  • At the request of Service Alberta, Council provided comments on the Parking Placards for Persons with Disabilities Policy Review.

Treasury Board and Finance

  • Budget 2016 – impact and considerations on the disability sector.


  • Municipal Infrastructure Support and the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP) that consider the lens of persons with disabilities.
  • Provincial Transit Engagement to include specialized needs of the disability sector.

Public Affairs Bureau

  • Council provided input to modernizing the existing Alternative Communications Policy.


Celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The annual celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities creates an incredible amount of awareness and education about the rights and abilities of persons with disabilities. This day, commemorated on December 3, is a day where members of the public are invited to recognize and honour the achievements of Albertans with disabilities. It also promotes full citizenship and community inclusion as a reality for all. An increasing number of communities across the province are celebrating International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Council encourages communities throughout the province to organize and showcase events. Council supports a Provincial Planning Committee which is comprised of representatives from local committees. The committee's purpose is to share ideas, resources and work through issues which a community may be experiencing in planning a local event. The dedication and hard work of these community organizations to hold events, activities and media outreach in their communities is greatly appreciated.

Every event reflects the unique qualities of that community and that is what makes it so successful. The Council promotes events in Alberta through government resources such as news releases, MLA statements in the Alberta legislature, social media and online information. The following communities received small grants from Council in 2015 to support their local event – Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Wetaskiwin, Red Deer, Calgary, Siksika Nation, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.

If any communities would like more information or wish to join the International Day of Persons with Disabilities Provincial Planning Committee, please contact the Council office at 780-422-1095.


Presenting Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities Awards 2015

Individuals, teams or organizations from across Alberta are recognized and honoured with Council Awards for their commitment to the full inclusion of persons with disabilities. Nominations from across the province exemplify the tremendous contributions, hard work, dedication and passion Albertans have towards reducing barriers for persons with disabilities and creating more inclusive communities.

The Council leads and coordinates the award presentations which typically take place at IDPD events throughout the province.

On December 3, 2015, Chair of Council, Carmen Wyton, presented Council Awards at the Edmonton event, along with Council member Cam Tait and MLA Marie Renaud. Council members Sheila Serup and Bill Brandon presented Council Awards in Calgary, Betty Lou Benson in Red Deer and Tara Chisholm in Medicine Hat and Lethbridge. In addition, Council members participated in IDPD events in their own communities.

Council welcomes nominations and feedback from all Albertans to acknowledge and highlight the exemplary participation of Albertans who make their communities inclusive.

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


Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities 2015 Award Recipients

Premier's Council Gary McPherson Leadership Award

Cal Schuler – Calgary

Cal Schuler is a man of vision, commitment and connection. Over the span of four decades; Cal has forged powerful inroads for those with disabilities and contributed wholeheartedly to numerous community initiatives.

His career began and flourished following his injury in 1975, where he spent 17 months in the hospital, but his personal experience with a spinal cord injury has fueled his true passion – assisting others with similar life-altering conditions and promoting disability awareness and barrier-free environments.

Since graduating from Mount Royal College in Rehabilitation Services, Cal has been an active leader and participant on numerous boards and committees on local and provincial levels. Over the years he has coordinated and guided numerous projects and owns and operates Spectra Alternative Solutions, geared to facilitate disability awareness and sensitivity training, promote barrier-free activity, develop corporate policy, provide support and actively change conditions that negatively impact the full participation for persons with disabilities.

In addition to this, Cal has also worked for the past eight years as the full-time Community Development Coordinator with Spinal Cord Injury Alberta (formerly Canadian Paraplegic Association).

The Gary McPherson Leadership Award is awarded to an individual Albertan who has demonstrated outstanding leadership or achievement in enriching the lives of persons with disabilities.

Premier's Council Marlin Styner Achievement Award

Joey Moss – Edmonton

Joey Moss was born and raised in Edmonton and is best known for his passion and commitment towards his job with the Edmonton Oilers of the National Hockey League and his work with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League.

Joey met Wayne Gretzky in 1985, and Wayne was so impressed with Joey's dedication to his job at the time he recommended him for a position helping the equipment manager for the Edmonton Oilers. Joey was doing such a great job that he was also recommended for a position with the Edmonton Eskimos during the summer when the Oilers were off season.

Joey was born with Down syndrome during a time when people with disabilities were not typically seen in the work force. He has had a long and successful career and is a role model for many young people.

In 2008, a mural, located on 99th Street in Edmonton, was dedicated to Joey for his dedication to the Edmonton Eskimos and the Edmonton Oilers. In 2012 he received the Diamond Jubilee Medal and in the spring of 2015 was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

The Marlin Styner Achievement Award is awarded to an individual Albertan who has a disability and who, through their personal or professional achievements, has not allowed their disability to become a barrier in pursuing excellence.

Premier's Council Award of Excellence in Community

Chris Schamber – Lethbridge

Chris Schamber is well known for his dedication to improving accessibility for people with disabilities in Lethbridge.

Chris began using a wheelchair due to an injury he experienced as a young man. Over time, he began exploring his community through a new lens and realized that he could use his situation to help himself and others gain a more accessible, barrier-free community.

Chris has made countless presentations to the city over the years, identifying accessibility issues the city is facing and solutions to address them. Over the past few years he has also been frequently attending city council meetings. The city periodically hires him for consultations on barrier-free access.

With a background in Engineering Design and Drafting, Chris started his own business in 2006, Quad Design and Barrier Free Consulting. He noticed the need for accessible housing in Lethbridge and has designed some accessible suites and consulted on others. Today, his business extends to many areas, in addition to consulting. Chris has also opened a local chapter for the Tetra Society of North America, an organization which offers and builds assistive devices for people with disabilities.

Chris is a dedicated volunteer to many initiatives and organizations, including the International Day of Persons with Disabilities and the Rick Hansen Foundation.

Chris is a powerful voice for equality, inclusion and independence, exemplifying courage in everything he does.

The Award of Excellence in Community is awarded to an individual, team or organization that has made a significant contribution to a barrier-free, inclusive community in Alberta.

Premier's Council Award of Excellence in Education

Lisa Doolittle – Lethbridge

Professor Doolittle (Lisa) teaches in the Fine Arts Faculty at the University of Lethbridge and continually demonstrates her commitment to inclusive education.

Lisa was the co-creator in a Department of Theatre and Dramatic Arts Main Stage production called "Unlimited", presented as part of the department's 2014-15 season of public performances. Starting with a mixed abilities course in dance-theatre, the "Unlimited" production process included students with developmental disabilities working alongside other students and community members to create, rehearse and perform an original show on the theme of inclusion. Lisa worked tirelessly by attending meetings, planning, and consulting local community support organizations (LACL, SAIPA and SRSAN) and collaborating with Pamela Boyd, a professional artist from Calgary. The production serves as an example of what a fully inclusive model of education could look like in a university.

"Unlimited" had a positive impact on all those directly involved by fostering an inclusive arts community. It also benefitted the university and larger community by giving an example of what inclusion can look like.

Lisa continues to promote and pursue inclusive education through her involvement with the nation-wide researching team, Arts for Social Change (ASC). She also promotes inclusion in her own classroom, working to create more opportunities for a diversity of people to create art through dance and theatre, and she is working with the university administration towards a truly inclusive environment in a university setting.

The mixed-ability dance class, the production of "Unlimited" and the recognition of Lisa at many community events, demonstrates the significant impact Lisa has had on the Lethbridge community.

The Award of Excellence in Education is awarded to an educator, team or organization that has made a significant contribution to a barrier-free and inclusive educational or training program.

Premier's Council Award of Excellence in Employment

Port O'Call Safeway – Red Deer

Port O'Call Safeway in Red Deer is recognized for equal treatment and respect towards all of their employees, volunteers and customers regardless of their diverse abilities.

Safeway hires many different types of individuals, including people with disabilities. "As a company, we focus on people's abilities rather than their disabilities. It's proven to be very successful as many employees we hire with disabilities are long term, valued members of our team," says Store Manager Doug Ross.

Customer Service Staff are also trained to provide personal assistance in grocery shopping to their customers if needed.

In additional to providing meaningful work experience for people with disabilities, the Port O'Call Safeway partners with Muscular Dystrophy Canada, Easter Seals and Special Olympics, through store fundraising and by creating awareness in the community. Other partners of Safeway include the Red Deer Food Bank Society, The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and Prostate Cancer Canada.

The Award of Excellence in Employment is awarded to an individual employer, team or organization that has made a significant contribution to a barrier-free, inclusive work environment.

Premier's Council Award of Excellence in Public Awareness

The Ramp-It-Up Project – Calgary

The Ramp-It-Up Project creates communities where every person can access every space through a fun and engaging project that raises awareness and helps remove barriers. Physical barriers in neighbourhoods can prevent many individuals from accessing their community. A simple ramp can make life easier for everyone.

Inspired by other ramp projects in Canadian municipalities, Accessible Housing approached inner-city businesses and business revitalization zones to see if the environment was receptive for the Ramp-It-Up Project. Businesses were very interested and funding was secured. With labour from inspired volunteers and leadership from small businesses, the Ramp-It-Up Project began offering single stepped storefronts with a custom ramp made at no cost to owners. The brightly coloured ramps created curiosity and people started talking about issues of accessibility. The ramped storefronts proved to be beneficial not only individuals using wheels chairs, but also to individuals pushing strollers, pulling wheeled shopping bags, couriers using dollies, seniors and individuals using mobility aids. Business owners have increased their customer base as a result.

The project provided a dozen ramps to local businesses and gained a great deal of media attention, including newspaper, television, web and radio. This helped to raise public awareness of accessibility and inclusion that reached beyond the individuals that were directly involved in the Ramp-It-Up Project.

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


Council Members

Carmen Wyton – Chair, St. Albert (2008 – 2016)

Carmen Wyton is currently the Vice President of Stakeholder Relations with CAREERS: The Next Generation. Carmen has a long history with Special Olympics as a volunteer and as CEO in Alberta. She has experience in senior executive, leadership and advisory roles with a variety of government, health, senior and community organizations. Carmen is well known and respected for her knowledge and commitment to persons with disabilities, her leadership within the non-profit sector, and her passion for building communities around social issues. As Carmen herself has Multiple Sclerosis, she brings the perspective of having a progressive disability to the Council. She also possesses a keen interest and experience with the challenges families face when they have a child with disabilities.

Betty Lou Benson, Sylvan Lake (2013 – current)

Betty Lou Benson has 26 years of experience working in British Columbia and Alberta in the area of human services through various supervisory, management and coordination roles. She has an educational background in human services, managing social service, working with Aboriginal communities, not-for-profit organizations, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) services and policy governance.

Betty Lou is currently the Coordinator for the Central Alberta FASD Service Network. Betty Lou brings representation from central Alberta and FASD expertise to the Council.

Bill Brandon, Calgary (2013 – current)

Bill Brandon has been a management consultant for over 20 years. His extensive experience includes work with the Alberta government, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), John Howard Society, Canadian Mental Health Association and the Calgary Association for the Mentally Handicapped.

Bill has been an active volunteer in his community for many years. He has been on the Board of Directors for several not-for-profit organizations. He is the only individual with a disability on the Calgary Transit Customer Advisory Group. Bill brings a perspective of living with a disability, as he has been legally blind since birth.

Cam Tait, Edmonton (2014 – current)

Cam Tait was a reporter and columnist for the Edmonton Journal for 33 years. He wrote extensively about people with disabilities, including following the Rick Hansen Man in Motion World Tour for three months. Cam has spoken to countless groups on disability, volunteerism, and competed nationally in 1995 for Canada's Funniest New Comic. Currently, Cam works as a columnist with the Edmonton Sun, is the special project advisor for Challenge Insurance and had his autobiography, "Disabled? Hell NO! I'm a Sit-Down Comic", published by Harbour Publishing in 2015. Cam has cerebral palsy and has made connections with disability groups locally, provincially and nationally.

Chloë Atkins, Calgary (2014 – current)

Dr. Chloë Atkins is an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary in the Department of Communication and Culture, Faculty of Arts. She researches, teaches and writes in the areas of human rights, ethics, and vulnerability, with a focus on chronic illness and disability issues. With a grant from the Canadian Institute of Health Research, she is currently investigating MUPS – medically unexplained physical symptoms. She is an award-winning author with her 2010 book My Imaginary Illness: A Journey into Uncertainty and Prejudice in Medical Diagnosis. Her interest in disability arises from both her academic and personal experience. Chloë has a rare autoimmune neuromuscular disorder, as well as rheumatoid arthritis.

Janalee Morris, Calgary (2013 – current)

Janalee Morris has spent most of her professional career working with post-secondary students with disabilities, formerly at the University of Manitoba and currently at Mount Royal University.

As a researcher for the Canadian Centre on Disability Studies, she focused on issues of education, employment, and international development, and has most recently worked with persons with disabilities in Ghana and Uganda. She continues her work in disability studies through teaching an online class on the subject for the University of Winnipeg. Janalee also brings a perspective of raising a child with a disability.

Sheila Serup, Calgary (2013 – current)

Sheila Serup has experience working as a communications manager, supervisor, consultant, policy analyst, and has worked in various editing and reporting assignments. She has an educational background in Public Relations and Communications Management, English, and is an Accredited Business Communicator.

Sheila has worked on advancing understanding and awareness of deaf and hard of hearing issues through the National Access Awareness Week and through her active involvement with the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association. Sheila also brings her experience as someone who has partial hearing loss.

Tara Chisholm, Medicine Hat (2014 – current)

Tara Chisholm is the founder and program coordinator of Medicine Hat Adaptive Sport and Recreation. She completed her M.A. thesis from the University of Alberta on barriers and facilitators to physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities living in rural Alberta. Her knowledge of adapted sport and exercise is extensive as she has worked and volunteered with The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada, The Steadward Centre for Personal & Physical Achievement, The Paralympic Sports Association, Adapted Adventures, Parkinson Alberta and the Alberta Cerebral Palsy Sports Association. Tara has coached a variety of sports, including the Canadian National women's sledge hockey team, disability skiing and lacrosse.

Tracey Howell, Sherwood Park (2013 – current)

Tracey Howell has 20 years of experience working as a lawyer in the area of litigation. Her work is primarily in personal injury and medical malpractice, giving her familiarity with many types of disability.

Tracey also brings a perspective of raising children with disabilities. She is knowledgeable about many disabilities through work and personal experience, and is very active within her community. She is currently a member of the Government of Alberta Fatality Review Board and sits on the Strathcona County RCMP Community Advisory Board.


Financial Accountability

Council funding falls under the ministry of Human Services. Council members' expenses are publicly disclosed quarterly at

Other financial information is included in the Human Services' Annual Report at


How to Contact Council

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

Telephone: 780-422-1095 (toll-free by first dialing 310-0000)
Individuals who use TTY can contact the message relay service at 711 for assistance in contacting the Council office.


If you require documentation in an alternate format, please contact the Council office.


Modified: 2017-03-16
PID: 18491