Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities - Annual Report 2016-17 - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities - Annual Report 2016-17

(Text version)

Table of Contents


Letter of Transmittal

June 2, 2017

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 28th 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, 2017. 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,

Sheila Serup, Acting Chair
Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities



Reflections from the Acting Chair:

How Council Listens to People with Disabilities and Advises Government

The Premiers’ Council listens to people with disabilities, their families and stakeholders throughout Alberta, and uses this information to inform Council’s advice to government.

Council believes and sees Alberta as an inclusive and barrier-free society. It uses the lens of inclusion to advise and influence government on policies, programs and funding to increase access.

Over the past year, members of Council met with communities, leaders, people with disabilities and their families throughout our province. The perspectives from our conversations with cross-disability groups, non-profits and municipal committees were invaluable in shaping advice that was truly reflective of diverse communities and which addressed the barriers they face.

The advice provided to government was guided by the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Council received an increase in requests for input on proposed legislation or policy changes from many government ministries. This increase validates the importance of Council in advising government.

Council listened to the community and gave advice regarding equal opportunities for people with disabilities to reach their full potential and to engage in the life of the province. Advice crossed the spectrum of topics such as: Off-Highway Vehicle Safety - specifically the use of helmets, and the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) Safety Standards Consultation resulting in a final report response.

Council members played an instrumental role in celebrating the achievements of people with disabilities through their involvement with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Council presented the Premier’s Council awards to recognize outstanding Albertans who strive to create opportunities for barrier-free, inclusive communities.

Council’s work was significantly guided by former Acting Chair Bill Brandon through his passion for an inclusive province. Additionally, Council acknowledges the contributions of former Council members: Chloe Atkins and Tracey Howell during their time on Council. We would also like to thank Secretariat for their invaluable support, expertise and knowledge, which contributed to the Council’s large body of work this year.

In closing, we extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to many stakeholders who gave their time, insights and perspectives to Council, and whose feedback guided our impactful advice.


[Original signed by Sheila Serup]

Sheila Serup, 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.


In 2013, the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities Act was amended to include an additional role to:

  • Advise the Government regarding the alignment between policies and strategies affecting people with disabilities and the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Act was updated to reflect current issues, relationships and roles within government and the community, and to give the Council a more strategic role in government policy and program development.



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 Community and Social Services and consists of up to 15 volunteer 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 and lifespan 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 eight meetings. Two of the meetings were in person, one in Edmonton and one in Calgary, and the remaining were via telephone and video conference. These meetings were invaluable in focusing the Council’s work 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. Council is able to reach the disability and broader community through the use of social media tools. Council has a Facebook page with key messages about inclusion and accessibility and a Twitter account to share and promote inclusive practices and support partners.



Council Provides Advice

Advice was provided on 30 policies within the following 15 Government of Alberta Departments and six community based organizations:

Government of Alberta Departments

Alberta Advanced Education

  • Transition Planning Guide for Students with Disabilities
  • Tuition and non-mandatory fees review

Alberta Community and Social Services

  • Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) Safety Standards Committee, and PDD Safety Standards Consultation Final Report response
  • Canadian Accessibility Legislation
    • Alberta public forums – 1 in Edmonton and 2 in Calgary
  • Safe and Accessible Homes Modification Program
  • The community agency response to Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH)

Alberta Education

  • Education Curriculum Review

Alberta Elections

  • 2017 language consultation and terminology

Alberta Environment and Parks

  • Accessible parks (1 Km Experience)

Alberta Health

  • Mental Health Review; the Health Charter and Health Advocate
  • Physician Assisted Death Policies
  • Homecare and Continuing Care

Alberta Infrastructure

  • Municipal Infrastructure Support

Alberta Labour

  • Alberta Minimum Wage
  • Workers Compensation Board Review

Alberta Legislative Assembly

  • Child and Youth Advocate Act Review

Alberta Municipal Affairs

  • Municipal Government Act Review
  • City Charters – held in Edmonton and Calgary

Alberta Public Affairs Bureau

  • “” website and accessible information

Alberta Seniors and Housing

  • Affordable Housing Strategy

Alberta Status of Women

  • Amendment to the Alberta Human Rights Act

Alberta Transportation

  • Future of Public Transit Across the Province
  • Off-Highway Vehicle Safety Consultation

Alberta Treasury Branch and Finance

  • Budget 2016

Community Based Organizations

Alberta Health Services (Government Agency)

  • Glenrose Hospital signage

Alzheimer Society (Non-profit)

  • Young Onset Dementia

Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS)

  • “I Believe You” Campaign

City of Edmonton (Municipality)

  • Elections and Census Office - voter election process

Deaf & Hear Alberta (Non-profit)

  • Brand

Prospect Now (Non-profit)

  • Viable Employment Project



Community Connections

Council continued to be connected with its communities throughout the province. Meetings were held with advisory groups with a provincial focus, and as well with Edmonton, Calgary and Medicine Hat Accessibility City Council Advisory Committees. These meetings brought the perspective of the disability community to inform Council's advice to government departments.

Council takes what they hear and creates its “Premier’s Council is Listening Report” twice a year. This provides the Minister with information on communities’ successes and challenges. This information is shared at community meetings with Council members.

Council appreciates the generosity and candor of individuals and their families and organizations at these opportunities.

Council connected with 32 communities across Alberta

  • Accessibility Advisory Committee – City of Edmonton
  • Accredited Supportive Living Services – Peace River
  • Advisory Committee on Accessibility - City of Calgary (met twice)
  • Advisory Committee on Disability Issues – Medicine Hat
  • Alberta Council of Disability Services (ACDS) - service provider association – Provincial scope
  • Albertans Advocating for change Together (Self-Advocates across province)
  • ALIGN Association of Community Services – service provider association – Edmonton
  • Autism Edmonton
  • Clients Ongoing Rehabilitation and Equality (CORE) Association - Medicine Hat
  • Community Futures Treaty 7 (CFT7) – Calgary
  • Drumheller and Region Transition Society (DARTS)
  • Easter Seals Alberta - Edmonton
  • Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) Provincial Parent Advisory Committee (PPAC) – Provincial scope
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Family Advisory Committee – Edmonton
  • Government Assured Income for the Severally Handicapped (AISH) Program Area
  • Government Disability Related Program areas (PDD, FSCD, RAMP, DRES, FASD)
  • Inclusion Alberta – Edmonton
  • International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) - Provincial Committee
  • Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta – Edmonton Chapter
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society of Canada, Alberta & Northwest Territories Division – Edmonton
  • Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (OPGT)
  • Parent
  • Post-Secondary Accessibility and Disability Resource Association (PADRA) – Alberta
  • Rehabilitation and Employment for Developing Independence (REDI) Enterprises - Medicine Hat
  • Rocky Native Friendship Centre – Rocky Mountain House
  • Southern Alberta Brain Injury Society
  • Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Alberta – Edmonton & Calgary (met twice)
  • Voice of Albertans with Disabilities (VAD) – Edmonton (met twice)
    • Alberta Disabilities Forum (ADF)
  • Woods homes – Calgary



Highlights of Council Activities

Council provided advice to 15 Ministries and six community groups with interest in the disability community about policy and programs. Council met with 32 groups in Alberta communities, including individuals with disabilities and their families.



PDD Safety Standards Committee and Consultation Final Report

Council (through participation of Council Member Cam Tait) was part of the Minister’s Consultation Team that was created by the government to hear from community about how to keep people with disabilities safe in their homes and communities. More than 750 people participated in the public forums and 1,300 submitted feedback through an on-line questionnaire. The final report from the PDD Safety Standards Consultation Team was submitted to the government for consideration.

Council is an advisory body focused on cross-disability and lifespan, with critical interests that include promoting the safety and inclusion of persons with developmental disabilities. Council provided advice on how to best align government policy to ensure that it is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD).

Council is pleased with the recommendations made by the consultation team and supports the approach of involving the full disability community.



International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The annual celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) creates 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.

The Council encourages communities from across Alberta 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 shown by these communities to host events and activities and to promote media participation 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 statement in the Alberta legislature, social media and online information. The following communities received small grants to support their local event – Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, City of Edmonton, Voice of Albertans with Disabilities (Edmonton), University of Alberta, Wetaskiwin, Vegreville, Lac La Biche, Red Deer, Siksika Nation and Medicine Hat.

If members of any community 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.



Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities - 2016 Awards Presentations

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 which Albertans are making towards reducing barriers for persons with disabilities and creating more inclusive communities.

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

The previous Acting Chair of Council, Bill Brandon, presented a Council Award at the IDPD event at the University of Alberta. Council member Cam Tait presented Council Awards at the City of Edmonton, Betty Lou Benson in Red Deer and Peace River, and Sheila Serup in Calgary. Vicki Bertoia, Director of the Premier’s Council Secretariat presented an award in St. Paul on behalf of Council. In addition, Council members participated in IDPD events in their own communities and surrounding areas including Siksika First Nations.

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

More information on the award ceremonies and events across the province is available at the the Premier’s Council website.



Leaders of Today: Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities Awards Recipients

Mr. Bruce Uditsky (Edmonton)

Gary McPherson Leadership Award – lifetime achievement award presented to an Albertan who has demonstrated outstanding leadership or achievement in enriching the lives of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Uditsky has been a leader for community inclusion for persons with disabilities for over 35 years. Throughout his career, he has taught, written about, and consulted on community inclusion and social justice. His work has been instrumental in promoting inclusion, disability awareness and barrier-free environments for persons with disabilities in Alberta. Mr. Uditsky is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Inclusion Alberta, an organization advocating for an inclusive society for persons with disabilities. Additional roles in the disability community include: Adjunct Professor, Community Rehabilitation & Disability Studies, Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary; Co-Chair, Alberta FASD Family Advisory Committee; Member, PDD Provincial Advisory Committee; Member, Alberta Education Advisory Committee on Building an Inclusive Education System.

Mr. Uditsky was a founding member and Chair of the Alberta Disabilities Forum with Gary McPherson and a co-developer of the CRDS Summer Institute on Inclusive Education. He is also a co-founder of Inclusion Alberta’s Rotary Employment Partnerships and inclusive post-secondary education.

He helped to develop Alberta’s education standards on the placement of students with disabilities. As a member of the Minister’s Expert Advisory Committee, he provided advice to government on the development of the Family Support for Children with Disabilities Act in 2004.

Mr. Uditsky has received the Alberta Centennial Medal, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and a Paul Harris Fellowship, among other acknowledgements.

These achievements, when combined with his passion for inclusion, make Mr. Uditsky an outstanding recipient for the Gary McPherson Award. His career exemplifies the values and ideals of the Gary McPherson Leadership Award and has made our province a better place to live.

Ms. Louise Miller (Edmonton)

Marlin Styner Achievement Award - a lifetime achievement award presented to an Albertan who has not allowed their disability to prevent them from achieving personal or professional excellence.

Ms. Miller is a tireless advocate for people with spinal cord injuries.

One of Ms. Miller’s greatest achievements was co-founding the Spinal Cord Injury Treatment Centre Society (SCITCS). In 2017, SCITCS will celebrate 30 years of creating opportunities for people with disabilities and never saying “never”.

This award recipient has been instrumental in the success of SCITCS. Under her leadership, SCITCS brought the first exoskeleton ReWalk system to Canada. It is presently in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and several people with spinal cord injuries have had the opportunity to stand and walk.

In 1990, SCITCS brought Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) to Western Canada. FES allows people with mobility impairments to move their limbs. SCITCS has provided several FES bicycles to hospitals, clinics and fitness facilities. In addition, SCITCS has contributed over $2 million to the University of Alberta for research to provide a better life for people with disabilities.

Ms. Miller produced the bestselling book, “Daring to Live: Personal Journeys of Courage and Triumph”. The book has motivated and inspired countless readers with proceeds from the book sales donated to SCITCS.

She was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada 2000 and the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2010. The University of Alberta recognized her contribution, by bestowing an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 2013, for exemplary commitment to the advancement of health care and the promotion of human dignity.

Ms. Miller is the 2016 recipient of the Marlin Styner Achievement Award.

UNITE HERE Local 47 (Edmonton)

Award of Excellence in Community

UNITE HERE Local 47 is a union representing camp, culinary and hospitality workers across the province.

Using inclusive and innovative thinking, UNITE HERE Local 47 recognized the need to redesign the courtyards and play spaces at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital to accommodate persons with disabilities. The union made a generous donation of $600,000 to ensure the spaces were accessible.

The redesigned spaces were officially opened on August 25, 2016. All aspects of the spaces have met or exceeded the Canadian Standards Association guidelines.

The Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital serves all ages and is devoted to providing specialized rehabilitation for Albertans with complex disabilities and chronic disease.

Dr. Hasmukhlal Rajani (St. Paul)

Award of Excellence in Community

Dr. Rajani has provided training to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) diagnostics teams for 16 years. He has been a member of the Lakeland Centre for FASD diagnostic team for nearly 20 years, and a member of the Northwest Central Alberta FASD Network for six years.

Providing clinic and training support across the country, he also works tirelessly to deliver compassionate and comprehensive medical care.

Dr. Rajani is widely recognized for this enthusiasm in teaching and mentoring. He is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and teaches medical students, family medicine residents and pediatric residents in the ambulatory and inpatient setting.

In addition, Dr. Rajani also leads an outreach pediatric consultation clinic in several small communities in Alberta, where he provides exemplary pediatric care.

He also mentors and educates government agencies and various FASD Assessment and Diagnostic Clinics, provincially and nationally, through presentations that strengthen their ability to provide consistent supportive services.

A leader and a role model, Dr. Rajani is an esteemed educator not only in Alberta, but across Canada. His passion, hard work and dedication to provide innovative training to promote excellence in support and medical services, reflects his career long commitment to the communities he serves.

Dr. Megan Strickfaden (Edmonton)

Award of Excellence in Education

Dr. Strickfaden is an educator, designer and advocate for the well-being of persons with disabilities, who has significantly contributed to the goals of inclusive communities in Alberta. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta with a PhD in Design Studies, which includes creating numerous designed objects for persons with disabilities.

She enjoys academic achievements in the fields of Anthropology, Industrial Design and Engineering. Over the course of her career she has worked and volunteered tirelessly to advocate for people with different abilities. Dr. Strickfaden has achieved this through the creation of innovative and meaningful designs, teaching students about disability and design and by promoting inclusion through mentorship with her colleagues.

In an effort to improve the understanding of people’s abilities rather than disabilities, Dr. Strickfaden’s research combines elements of Design Studies with Anthropology,

Two of her most celebrated projects are: a short video titled Light in the Borderlands and exhibitions. The video has been shown at festivals in Canada and Europe, and focuses on urban spaces. It was filmed by three legally blind individuals from Edmonton. The exhibitions showcase photos that were taken by visually impaired individuals from Canada, France and Australia. Dr. Strickfaden says, “these projects are about what people can see, as opposed to what they can’t see.”

Her most recent project is the creation of outdoor sportswear for the seated sportsperson to engage in extreme winter activities such as trail riding and sit-skiing.

Dr. Strickfaden promotes the value of an inclusive society. Through her continued pedagogy, writing and research projects, she has significantly impacted the practice of many students and professionals by inspiring them to frame their practice through more inclusion.

Dr. Dorothy Badry (Calgary)

Award of Excellence in Education

Dr. Badry, PhD, RSW, is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary. Her key areas of expertise are in disability, child welfare, homelessness, women’s addiction and FASD.

As a leading researcher on FASD, Dr. Badry has demonstrated a strong commitment to supporting FASD prevention across communities. Her work has been instrumental in how FASD is being addressed in Alberta and across Canada.

As co-chair of the FASD Education, Training, Supports and Services Council, a lead co-principal investigator and an expert member of the Alberta FASD-Cross Ministry Committee, Dr. Badry has been a critical partner on many research and evaluation projects. Through the development of online courses, Dr. Badry has improved the delivery of distance education and made her classes more accessible to marginalized groups in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.

Dr. Badry has also supported the mentoring work of the Parent-Child Assistance Programs (PCAP). The programs help women facing significant challenges to be matched with a mentor to help them make healthy lifestyles choices for themselves and their families.

She has worked with the program on the PCAP Women’s Quilt – Woven Together – a qualitative research project, which has been showcased at numerous conferences and events, including the 50th Anniversary of the University of Calgary. In addition, she helps facilitate a social networking system and a national research agenda on FASD, Homelessness and Child Welfare, with various universities, communities and organizations.

Dr. Badry continues to be an educator and an advocate for people with a FASD, their families and caregivers

Ms. Lynn Wheadon (Calgary)

Award of Excellence in Education

Ms. Wheadon, born with hearing loss, taught hard of hearing and deaf children by oral communication in Calgary and Edmonton in the sixties. Later, employed at what is now Deaf & Hear Alberta, she taught speechreading classes for hard of hearing and deaf adults, and started a tinnitus support group and provided peer counselling.

As an active member of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, she helped to develop and coordinate a national program in speechreading and communication strategies.

Ms. Wheadon has trained instructors in Alberta and across Canada through the Working and Coping with Hearing Loss project (WCHL) and the National Speechreading Project.

During the WCHL project, she helped to develop a video, “Sound Ideas – Managing Your Hearing Loss” and a manual, “Working with Hearing Loss – A guide for Employees Employers and Entrepreneurs”.

Ms. Wheadon’s commitment to education for the hard of hearing spans over 50 years.

Mr. Gordon and Barbara Drummond (Peace River)

Award of Excellence in Employment

The Drummonds are strong advocates for Peace River’s disability community and their families. They are well-known for their generosity and commitment, particularly for people with developmental disabilities.

For many years, they have provided a wide range of supports and initiatives that contribute to an inclusive community for persons with disabilities and their families in the Peace River region.

Mr. Drummond, a former teacher, is committed to advocating on opportunity and equal treatment, inclusion and the celebration of individuality. He is an avid cyclist who rides to raise funds and awareness for kids with cancer. In 2009, he rode across Canada. Mrs. Drummond has been actively involved in engaging with provincial government leaders regarding employment initiatives for adults with disabilities.

As Tim Horton’s owners, the Drummonds employ several individuals with disabilities and support them in reaching their full potential. They have made accommodations to their storefront schedule and workplace policies to respond to what their employees with disabilities need to be included and successful in their roles.

They support school and soccer programs in their community by providing fundraising and mentoring supports, and of course, they donate plenty of coffee and doughnuts.

The Drummonds are leaders in their community and are modeling the way for inclusion.

Mr. Blair Charters (Red Deer)

Award of Excellence in Public Awareness

“Create something positive,” is a mantra often repeated by Mr. Charters, a motivational speaker, who promotes inclusiveness and raises awareness through his life experiences living with FASD.

Mr. Charters impacts others through his heartfelt, humoristic and charismatic brand of storytelling, and is described by his peers as a truly impressive motivator.

Though his work, he raises awareness of FASD and promotes inclusion among audiences that include community leaders, First Nations, police and parents. He is the author of the book “Beautiful Struggles”. Mr. Charters humbly shares his personal experiences of living with FASD and invites his readers on a journey of celebrating abilities and bringing positive change.

In addition to ongoing speaking engagements in Canada, he has also reached out internationally to promote awareness about FASD through a YouTube series entitled, “Why FASD Matters to You”. Mr. Charters reminds us that a person with a disability can consistently break barriers and accomplish great things that make our communities inclusive for all. His tireless work in raising awareness about FASD continues to grow.

Ms. Terri Robson (Red Deer)

Award of Excellence in Public Awareness

After overcoming struggles to accept and understand the impact of Asperger Syndrome in her own life, Ms. Robson was inspired to help others. With incredible determination, she has engaged with various projects, both nationally and internationally, to raise awareness and remove barriers for individuals with Asperger Syndrome.

Ms. Robson developed a company called “Awkward Spirit: Looking Beyond the Mask”, which has become a central force in her journey to better educate parents, teachers, caregivers and all Albertans about the capabilities and challenges of those with Asperger Syndrome.

By making presentations to a variety of international organizations, teacher’s conventions and other professional organizations, such as Lions Clubs International, she has become an ambassador and a voice for thousands of Albertans and Canadians who cannot speak for themselves.

The impact of Ms. Robson’s work is tremendous, as her presentations continue to be well received in communities, and have admittedly even exceeded her own expectations.

Her impressive skills are not limited to her work space. Ms. Robson is a leader and mentor and has worked tirelessly at many IDPD events in Alberta. Her determination, hard work and effectiveness continue to inspire and to make a difference in Alberta’s communities.



Council Biographies

Ms. Sheila Serup – Acting Chair (2013 - current)

Sheila Serup is the Executive Director for the Military Museums Foundation in Calgary, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing education programs on Canada’s military history to Alberta youth. She has an educational background in Public Relations and Communications Management, English and is an accredited business communicator. She has experience working as a communications manager, consultant and policy analyst. 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.

Dr. Chloe Atkins (2014 – September 2016)

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.

Ms. Betty Lou Benson (2013 – current)

Betty Lou Benson of Sylvan Lake has 26 years of experience working in BC and Alberta in human services through various supervisory, management, and coordination roles. She has an educational background in Human Services, managing social service and not-for-profit organizations, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) services, and policy governance.

Betty Lou has experience in managing facilities, support services for people with disabilities and working with Aboriginal communities. She is currently the Coordinator for the Central Alberta FASD Service Network. Betty Lou brings representation from central Alberta and FASD expertise to the Council.

Mr. Bill Brandon (2013 – January 2016)

Bill Brandon has been a management consultant for over 20 years. His extensive experience includes work with the Alberta government, the 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.

Ms. Tara Chisholm (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.

Ms. Tracey Howell (2013 – September 2016)

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, which gives 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.

Ms. Janalee Morris (2013 – current)

Janalee Morris of Calgary 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, Calgary.

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 people 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.

Mr. Cam Tait (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. He also works part-time as a Community Content Coordinator writing for the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club website.

Cam has cerebral palsy and has made connections with disability groups locally, provincially and nationally.



Financial Accountability

Council funding falls under the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Council members’ expenses are publicly disclosed quarterly on the Alberta Government website.

Other financial information is included in the Community and Social Services Annual Report on the Alberta Government website.



How to Contact Council

Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities
Suite 1110, HSBC Building
10055-106 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T5J 2Y2

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: 2017-08-16
PID: 18619