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Government of Canada improving job opportunities for Canadians with disabilities

The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, today announced that the Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities has begun in-person and online consultations.

“Through these important consultations, the Panel will gather the information needed to help break down barriers for Canadians with disabilities at work and strengthen their overall participation in the labour market,” said Minister Finley. “All employers are therefore invited to share their experiences regarding the employment of Canadians with disabilities.”

“Job creation, economic growth and long-term prosperity are the Government’s top priorities,” said Minister Flaherty. “The Panel’s work will help improve labour market opportunities for people with disabilities, maximizing their potential and independence, and helping Canada emerge as a more inclusive, more prosperous country.”

The Panel’s purpose is to engage private-sector businesses and other organizations and individuals to identify best practices and successful approaches, as well as barriers to employment from employers’ perspectives, and to prepare a report containing these elements.

“By identifying successes, best practices and barriers regarding Canadians with disabilities in the workforce, we are helping businesses open doors to potential new employees who bring with them the skills and talents the marketplace needs,” said Kenneth J. Fredeen, the chair of the Panel. “Whether you are a small, medium or large employer, the Panel would like to hear from you.”

To participate in the online consultations or for more information on the in-person consultations, visit the Panel’s website Questions or comments can be sent by email to

Details on the Panel and its members are available in the attached backgrounder. For more information on Government of Canada programs and services for Canadians with disabilities, please contact: 1 800-O-Canada (1-800-622-6232).

This news release is available in alternative formats on request.

For further information (media only):

Marian Ngo
Office of Minister Finley

Media Relations Office
Human Resources and
Skills Development Canada

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Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities

The Government announced the creation of a Panel on Labour Market Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities as part of Economic Action Plan 2012.  The Panel will identify private sector successes and best practices with regard to the labour market participation of persons with disabilities, as well as barriers to the employment of persons with disabilities.  The Panel will submit its report to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, by the end of 2012.

Mr. Kenneth J. Fredeen, General Counsel with Deloitte & Touche LLP, is Chair of the Panel.  The Panel also includes the following members: Dr. Gary Birch, Executive Director of the Neil Squire Society; Ms. Kathy Martin, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, with Loblaw Companies; and, Mr. Mark Wafer, the owner of Megleen Inc., which operates several Tim Hortons franchises.  Panel members held their first meeting in July 2012.

Panel Members

Mr. Kenneth J. Fredeen, Chair

Mr. Fredeen is General Counsel, Secretary to the Board, and member of the Leadership Team of Deloitte & Touche LLP. Mr. Fredeen is responsible for Deloitte’s corporate responsibility mandate and chairs the Firm’s Inclusion and Diversity Council. He and his legal department were recently acknowledged for their work with the Canadian General Counsel Award for social responsibility.  Mr. Fredeen was one of the founding members of Legal Leaders for Diversity, a group of 60 Canadian General Counsel working towards a more inclusive legal profession.

Dr. Gary Birch

Dr. Birch is the Executive Director of the Neil Squire Society, an organization that develops programs, services and assistive technology for people with physical disabilities.  Dr. Birch, who has a mobility disability, is a leading specialist on employment and adaptive technology for people with disabilities.

Ms. Kathy Martin

Ms. Martin is Senior Vice-President Human Resources with Loblaw Companies. She is responsible for all national human resources strategies and programs including recruitment, graduate program, talent management, succession planning, training, leadership and executive management and inclusion and change management at Loblaw Companies.

Mr. Mark Wafer

Mark Wafer is the owner of six Tim Horton locations in Toronto. Mr. Wafer and his wife Valarie have employed 82 people who have a disability over the past 17 years and currently have 33 employees with a disability in all areas of the business from entry level positions to logistics, production and management.

Mr. Wafer believes that there is a true business case for hiring people who have a disability in meaningful, competitively paid positions. This belief contributed to the creation of the Rotary at Work program, which Mark helped to develop along with fellow Whitby Rotarian, Joe Dale.

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