Tony Flores, first disability advocate for Alberta. (Edmonton Journal)

Edmonton, Alberta

Updated: October 31, 2018, 9:21AM

Edmonton Journal

October 30, 2018

Tony Flores has long promoted the rights of all people, and promises to bring that passion to his new role as Alberta’s first disability advocate.

He’s particularly looking forward to having more conversations with members of the disability community, he said Tuesday, and learning their stories so he can better work for them and be their voice for change.

Flores’ new role will see him support children, youth and adults with varying abilities by raising awareness of their rights and the services available to them and their families. He will also be tasked with making recommendations for improvements based on his work.

Flores’ appointment Tuesday follows a long wait.

In May 2017 the legislature voted unanimously to establish the advocate role to promote the rights and interests of people with disabilities; it took the government a year to post a recruitment ad for the position.

In the meantime, 1,300 Albertans gave feedback about what the advocate role should look like.

While some members of the disability community were critical of the time it took to finally appoint an advocate, Community Services Minister Irfan Sabir said Tuesday it was necessary to consult widely to “get this right.”

The previous administration did nothing to establish an advocate office after 44 years in power, he said, so it stood to reason it would take time for his government to hash out the details.

“We have chosen a person who is passionate, is dedicated, who lives with a disability and has thrived,” Sabir said.

The disability advocate office will have a budget of $1 million in 2018-19.

Who is Tony Flores?

Flores is an accomplished para-athlete with extensive experience working with a non-profit organization. He has also volunteered as a mentor and coach of athletes with disabilities.

Flores has a bachelor of arts in economics and political science, and is a self-advocate who believes in empowering people with disabilities to reach their full potential. He will officially begin work next month.