Toronto’s Accessibility Task Force (ATF) on COVID-19 Vaccines was established in March 2021 to provide advice on enhanced support and access to the COVID-19 vaccine for people with disabilities.
The ATF was created as part of the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 Immunization Task Force (ITF) outreach efforts and TO Supports: Targeted Equity Action Plan, and is a collaboration between the City and community partners.
There are high health risks associated with COVID-19 for people with disabilities, so there is a pressing need to ensure this community has accurate information and access to vaccination sites, no matter where in the city they live or what disability they have.
The task force will make recommendations to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and effectively address issues around accessibility. Membership in the ATF may expand to ensure all disabilities are represented, and as needed to help the City’s vaccine rollout to effectively respond to the unique needs and vulnerabilities of disability communities.
Virtual Public Town Halls
The ATF will be co-hosting with several community organizations a series of virtual town hall meetings for the disability community, starting in late April or early May.
Toronto’s Accessibility Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines – Member Biographies
Wendy Porch is the Chair of Toronto’s Accessibility Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines and is the Executive Director of the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT). Ms. Porch is a member of the Toronto Accessibility Advisory Committee. She was a Research Fellow in Accessibility in Educational Media at the Open University UK and has Master of Education (M.Ed.) in Counselling Psychology from the University of Toronto.
As Chair of the Task Force, Ms. Porch brings vast experience in the field of accessibility, disability, human rights, and education. She is a person with a disability and a life-long disability rights advocate.
Peter Athanasopoulos is Director of Public Policy at Spinal Cord Injury Ontario and Executive Director of the Ontario SCI Alliance. Mr. Athanasopoulos is a relationship builder, working with people with spinal cord injury (SCI), service providers, researchers and other stakeholders to strengthen planning and delivery of services for Ontarians with SCI.
Simone Atungo is an experienced Executive Leader and is the Chief Executive Officer at Vibrant Healthcare Alliance. Ms. Atungo’s expertise includes: strategic and operational planning; change transformation leadership; organizational integration management; policy and program development; stakeholder engagement; community-based research; and advocacy and community relations. This experience is complemented by a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies and a Non-profit Management Certificate both from York University and an Executive Leadership Program Certificate from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
Susan Bisaillon is Chief Executive Officer of the Safehaven Project for Community Living. She is a healthcare executive with over 30 years of experience in academic and large community healthcare organizations as well as the community. She has expertise in leading health system transformation and providing a coordinated approach across systems to improve organizational effectiveness. Formerly, Ms. Bisaillon was COO of Oakville Trafalgar Hospital and Associate Vice President, Operational Coordination for Trillium Health Partners. A graduate of the University of Toronto, Ms. Bisaillon was Nurse Manager, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit and Catheterization Laboratory at The Toronto Hospital.
Dr. Laurie Green
Dr. Laurie Green is a physician in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, St. Michael’s Hospital.
Megan Henze is an occupational therapist working at Surrey Place, an organization that supports adults with developmental disabilities across their lifespan. She is the clinical lead for the Transitional Aged Youth Clinic. This clinic is a partnership between St. Michael’s Hospital and Surrey Place.
Yona Lunsky is Director of the Azrieli Adult Neurodevelopmental Centre, and the Health Care Access Research and Developmental Disabilities Program (H-CARDD) at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Dr. Lunsky has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from The Ohio State University and is a professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Psychiatry.
Liv Mendelsohn, M.A., M.Ed., is Director of Accessibility and Inclusion at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre and Artistic Director of the ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto. She has been a field instructor for the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto and a Civic Action Fellow (2018). Ms. Mendelsohn is the recipient of a 2019 City of Toronto Equity Award. She is currently a member of the City of Toronto’s Accessibility Advisory Committee and the City of Toronto Museums’ Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility Committee.
Cathy Samuelson is the Executive Director of North Yorkers for Disabled Persons. North Yorkers provides services to people with physical support needs as well as a communication disability. Cathy has worked in the disability sector for over 30 years.
Sandy Stemp is the Chief Operations Officer of Reena and has over 30 years’ experience in the developmental disabilities sector. She has a background in nursing and interest in building collaborations between disability and health.
Laura Visser is Chief Executive Officer for PACE Independent Living. Ms. Visser is a Certified Health Executive, has a Master of Health Science, Health Policy, Management & Evaluation from University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Science, Gerontology from Guelph University. Ms. Visser has held leadership roles in the hospital, home care and community support services sectors. Through these roles, Ms. Visser has demonstrated a commitment to meaningful stakeholder engagement (including cross-organizational, cross-sector and cross-ministry) with a goal of facilitating consensus towards a shared vision and path forward.
For more information, visit the COVID-19: City Immunization Task Force page.
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