Equality and Justice
For People With Disabilities

The Appointment of Michael Gottheil, Canada’s First Accessibility Commissioner


Published on June 13, 2022

The Appointment of Michael Gottheil, Canada’s First Accessibility Commissioner

Thilini Hemalal, JD Candidate, published on June 13, 2022

 

On May 9, 2022, Michael Gottheil was appointed Canada’s first Accessibility Commissioner. He will serve for a term of five years. Gottheil was appointed under the Accessible Canada Act. 


The Accessible Canada Act strives for a barrier-free and inclusive Canada. The Act is responsible for developing accessibility standards and taking proactive steps to identify and remove barriers to accessibility. This appointment, along with the very recent announcement of Stephanie Cadieux as Canada’s first Chief Accessibility Officer is quite momentous. These appointments highlight the Government’s commitment to increasing accessibility and inclusivity of Canadians with disabilities, aligning very closely with Reach Canada’s mission.


The Accessibility Commissioner is a full-time appointment. As the Accessibility Commissioner, Gottheil will report to the Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Commissioner Gottheil and his office will be responsible for the implementation, administration, and enforcement of the Accessible Canada Act. His role includes ensuring federal organizations meet and understand their accessibility obligations. He will also foster compliance with the Act and receive, investigate, and rule on complaints filed under the Act.


Michael Gottheil has 35 years of experience. Most recently, Gottheil was Chief of the Commission and Tribunals at the Alberta Human Rights Commission. He also previously served as Executive Chair at the Social justice Tribunals of Ontario, Executive Chair of Environment and Land Tribunals of Ontario, and Chair at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. His extensive experience also includes serving as an advocate, mentor, mediator, business leader, and lawyer. 


Gottheil practiced in labour, employment, and human rights law for nearly twenty years. His time as a lawyer also included volunteering on Reach Canada’s legal roster to assist persons with disabilities in the Ottawa region with their legal matters. GottheilHe also played a pivotal role in the implementation of several major government policy initiatives. This includes transforming the Ontario human rights system and modernizing and reforming Ontario’s administrative justice sector. 


As a person with a disability, he has dedicated his career to working on making justice more accessible and responsive to the needs of the public, especially to those who face the most discrimination and barriers in our society. He is committed to increasing collaboration between the government and private spheres and community organizations. With Commissioner Gottheil leading, the rights and obligations outlined under the Act will not be solely empty statements, but will become fulfilled realities; aiding persons with disabilities in Canada in a new, accessible and more inclusive manner. 


“This appointment marks a comprehensive step forward in advancing human rights in Canada" – David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. 


 SOURCES
https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2022/04/backgrounder--michael-gottheil.html
https://www.chrc-ccdp.gc.ca/en/resources/canadian-human-rights-commission-welcomes-canadas-first-accessibility-commissioner
https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/news/2022/04/historic-appointment-of-canadas-first-accessibility-commissioner.html
https://www.canadianlawyermag.com/inhouse/news/general/michael-gottheil-appointed-as-canadas-first-accessibility-commissioner/366088