leadership

Bill Adair

Bill Adair

Bill Adair has spent decades bringing Canadians with disabilities together. He believes we all have lots to learn from each other. The more we work together, the better chance we have to make changes that will benefit us all.

When asked why he is working on the Canadian Disability Benefit Initiative, Bill replied: “This is a huge opportunity. The Government of Canada has said they want to create a disability benefit. Now it is our chance to say what this benefit is going to be.”

Bill is the Executive Director of Spinal Cord Injury Canada. Before this role, he spent 23 years as the Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario branch. During those years, the organization served thousands of people with spinal cord injuries and related physical disabilities. He built up the annual budget to over $10 million to support this work.

Bill is also a member of:

  • the Board of Directors of Accessibility Standards Canada
  • the Ministers Disability Advisory Group for Minister Qualtrough
  • the Advisory Group for the Canadian Human Rights Commission

“I’m involved in lots of different areas, but I want to work on the benefit,” he says. “This effort will change people’s lives. I’m excited to do my part to make this happen.”

Spinal Cord Injury Canada led the Federal Accessibility Legislation Alliance, also known as FALA. FALA brought together thousands of people and organizations across the country to give input into what became the Accessible Canada Act. Bill believes this same process can help again. He wants to hear what people with disabilities in Canada have to say about the benefit.

“The disability community should have our say and decide together on how to move forward. Then we want to bring one united message to the government. We want to be clear: ‘This is what we’re looking for in this benefit.’ I hope we can do that.

Bill found out about disability first-hand when he was a child. A horse threw him when he was 11 years old. His injury resulted in a three-day coma and a paralyzed arm. He recalls, “I was still the same person afterwards, but people were treating me differently because of my arm.” It wasn’t until Bill worked in the spinal cord injury world that he realized how close he had been to having a spinal cord injury. “I truly understand how life can change in an instant,” he says.

Bill went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota. He is a keen boater and gardener. He lives in Toronto with Janna, his wife of over 50 years. The couple has three children and eight grandchildren. In 2016, Bill received a Meritorious Service Medal from Canada.