Canadian Human Rights Commission welcomes Canada's first Accessibility Commissioner
April 27, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission
The Canadian Human Rights Commission is pleased to welcome Michael Gottheil, by Order in Council, as Canada’s first Accessibility Commissioner.
Commissioner Gottheil brings to his new role his extensive experience and expertise as an adjudicator, mediator and educator in various fields of law, including human rights, administrative, labour and employment law. Throughout his career, he has worked on initiatives that seek to make justice more accessible, effective and responsive to the needs of the public. He is particularly interested in how building organizational capacity, along with community partnerships can lead to tangible benefits for those who have traditionally faced barriers and disadvantage in our society.
Before his appointment as the Accessibility Commissioner, Commissioner Gottheil served as Chief of Commission and Tribunals of the Alberta Human Rights Commission, a post he held from 2018 until November 2021. Previously, Mr. Gottheil served as Chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, Executive Chair of the Environment and Land Tribunals Ontario and the Social Justice Tribunals Ontario from 2005 to 2018. Prior to 2005, he practiced at the firm of Engelmann Gottheil in Ottawa, working in multiple areas of law, including labour, employment, human rights and administrative law. There he represented clients before courts, labour arbitrators and labour boards at the provincial and federal levels.
As an individual with a disability, Commissioner Gottheil’s lived experience, along with his personal and professional commitment to inclusion, accessibility and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, has deepened his belief that through listening and respect for diverse perspectives, we all grow stronger, individually and as a community.
As Accessibility Commissioner, Gottheil becomes a full-time member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and is responsible for leading the administration and enforcement of the Accessible Canada Act and its regulations. The Commission and the Accessibility Commissioner operate independently from the government.
Building on the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Accessible Canada Act provides a new human rights framework for accessibility. It requires the federal government and other organizations regulated by the federal government to take proactive measures to identify and remove barriers to accessibility and prevent the creation of new barriers.
The Office of Accessibility Commissioner will be responsible for promoting and verifying compliance with the Accessible Canada Act and its regulations, as well as receiving, investigating and ruling on complaints filed by people in Canada under the Act.
"This historic milestone is cause for celebration. Accessibility is a human right. Commissioner Gottheil’s appointment is essential to ensuring that people in Canada can fully participate and contribute to Canadian society. I very much look forward to working with him towards our shared goals of ensuring that everyone can fully enjoy and benefit from this fundamental human right. When everyone can participate, everyone benefits."
– Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner, Canadian Human Rights Commission
- The Accessible Canada Act is a federal law that aims to proactively identify, remove and prevent barriers facing people with disabilities in Canada. The federal government adopted the Act in 2019. The goal of the Act is to create a Canada without barriers by January 1, 2040.
- The law will require federally regulated organizations remove barriers in the following areas: employment, the built environment, communication, information and communication technology, programs and services, and transportation.
- The Accessibility Commissioner is a new role created by the Accessible Canada Act. The Commissioner is appointed by Order in Council and is a member of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The Commission and the Commissioner operate independently from the government.
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