Michael Gottheil appointed as Canada’s first accessibility commissioner

Gottheil was chief of the commission and tribunals at the Alberta Human Rights Commission

Michael Gottheil appointed as Canada’s first accessibility commissioner

Michael Gottheil has been appointed as Canada's first accessibility commissioner to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, effective May 9, 2022, for a term of five years.

This comes on the heels of the recent announcement of Stephanie Cadieux’s appointment as Canada's first chief accessibility officer. These two historic appointments support the government's continued commitment to increasing the accessibility and inclusion of Canadians with disabilities.

The accessibility commissioner is a full-time appointment, under the Canadian Human Rights Act on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice. Reporting to the chief commissioner of the CHRC, Gottheil will provide executive leadership and direction within his jurisdiction for the administration and enforcement of the Accessible Canada Act and its regulations. This includes:

  • promoting compliance with the act;
  • ensuring that federally regulated organizations meet their accessibility obligations; and,
  • receiving, investigating and ruling on complaints filed under the act.

"Michael Gottheil's vast experience in justice and human rights issues are a huge asset to Canada on our mission to become a more inclusive, barrier-free country,” said Carla Qualtrough, minister of employment, workforce development and disability inclusion.

“As Canada's first accessibility commissioner, he will help the Government of Canada administer, implement and enforce the Accessible Canada Act. Mr. Gottheil's leadership will ensure that the rights and measures outlined in the landmark Act are not just declarations, but that they become a lived reality for persons with disabilities in Canada."

Gottheil – who is blind and has deep roots in the disability community – has over 35 years’ experience serving as a tribunal chair, mediator, lawyer, advocate, mentor and business leader. Most recently, he was the chief of the commission and tribunals at the Alberta Human Rights Commission. His experience extends beyond legal advocacy and dispute resolution. He has successfully led a number of adjudicative tribunals over the past 18 years. He played a key role in the implementation of major government policy initiatives, including the transformation of Ontario's human rights system and the modernization and reform of Ontario's administrative justice sector.

"Building a barrier-free and accessible Canada means ensuring our laws and regulations are understood and enforced,” said David Lametti, minister of justice and Attorney General of Canada. “Michael Gottheil is an outstanding choice for the position of accessibility commissioner and the important role he will play in enforcing and administering the Accessible Canada Act. This appointment marks a comprehensive step forward in advancing human rights in Canada."

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