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Accessibility in Canada: Results from the 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability

Released: 2024-05-28

In support of National AccessAbility week, Statistics Canada is releasing new findings from the 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD). The report, "A demographic, employment and income profile of persons with disabilities aged 15 years and over in Canada, 2022," provides a comprehensive overview of disability characteristics among Canadians aged 15 years and older, as well as insight into the employment experiences of persons with disabilities. The report also includes key information on income and poverty, as well as unmet needs for disability supports because of cost.

In addition, a new data visualization tool, "Barriers to accessibility among persons with disabilities in Canada," provides an interactive way to view data on barriers to accessibility from the 2022 CSD.

Persons with mild disabilities are more likely to be employed than those with very severe disabilities

Labour market outcomes of persons with disabilities have been identified as a core indicator under "A Performance Indicator Framework for Accessibility Data: Employment." The framework serves as the foundation for measuring progress towards the identification and removal of barriers to accessibility associated with the priority areas set out in the Accessible Canada Act.

According to the 2022 CSD, adults aged 25 to 64 years with disabilities (62%) had lower rates of employment than those without disabilities (78%). Additionally, among persons with disabilities, employment rates decreased as the severity of disability increased. In addition, among employed persons aged 25 to 64 years, those with disabilities (16%) were more likely to work part time—that is, fewer than 30 hours per week—than their counterparts without disabilities (13%).

More than 741,000 persons with disabilities have potential for paid employment in an inclusive labour market

Given the discrepancy in the employment rate among persons with and without disabilities, the concept of work potential is used to determine how many persons with disabilities could be employed within an inclusive, accessible and accommodating labour market. The situations in which individuals have the potential to work vary. For example, persons with disabilities who are not working by choice but plan to look for employment or those who are unemployed but could be employed if an appropriate workplace accommodation (e.g., an assistive device or a flexible work arrangement) were made available to them would both be considered to have work potential. Among persons with disabilities aged 25 to 64 years who were not employed in 2022, 42% (or 741,280 persons) could be classified as having work potential.

The proportion of youth with disabilities neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET) provides information on young people who may be experiencing difficulties transitioning from school to the labour market and could be at risk for low income and social exclusion. Among youth with disabilities, 17% of persons aged 15 to 24 years were NEET in 2022. Furthermore, youth aged 15 to 24 years with more severe disabilities (28%) were more than twice as likely as those with milder disabilities (12%) to be NEET. According to the Labour Force Survey, 11% of all youth aged 15 to 24 years were NEET in 2022. See Note to readers for more information.

Persons with disabilities are more likely to live in poverty than those without disabilities

According to the 2022 CSD, 10% of persons with disabilities aged 15 years and older were living below the poverty line, compared with 7% of those without disabilities, based on the 2018-base Market Basket Measure. The Market Basket Measure refers to Canada's official measure of poverty based on the cost of a specific basket of goods and services representing a modest, basic standard of living. Furthermore, persons with more severe disabilities (13%) were more likely to be living below Canada's official poverty line than those with milder disabilities (7%).

A key component of the CSD is to provide information on needs for various disability supports, as well as barriers to accessing those supports. In 2022, more than half (56%; nearly 4.5 million people) of persons with disabilities reported having at least one unmet need when it came to either aids, devices, medication or healthcare services. Nearly three-quarters (73%; 3.2 million people) of persons with unmet needs cited cost as a reason for those needs being unmet. Severity of disability has an impact on the likelihood of having unmet needs due to cost for disability supports. Among persons with milder disabilities, 32% had at least one unmet need for an aid, device, prescription medication or healthcare service due to cost. More than half (53%) of persons with more severe disabilities had at least one such unmet need.

Visualizing data on barriers to accessibility

The initial results of the 2022 CSD showed that 72% of persons with disabilities reported that they had experienced 1 or more of the 27 types of barriers to accessibility because of their condition at least sometimes in the year prior to the survey. The new data visualization tool allows users to disaggregate data on the 27 types of barriers to accessibility by disability type or disability severity, as well as by age group, gender and geography.

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  Note to readers

The Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) sample is selected from the Census of Population respondents, making it a postcensal survey. For methodological details, see Surveys and statistical programs - Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD).

A global severity score was developed for the CSD. It was calculated for each person using the number of disability types that a person has, the level of difficulty experienced in performing certain tasks, and the frequency of activity limitations. To simplify the concept of severity, four severity classes were established: mild, moderate, severe and very severe. "Mild" and "moderate" classes were collapsed into "milder," while "severe" and "very severe" classes were collapsed into "more severe." It is important to understand, however, that the name assigned to each class is simply intended to facilitate use of the severity score and is not a label or judgment concerning the person's level of disability.

Information regarding labour force status for persons with and without disabilities comes from data linked to the CSD from the 2021 Census and, therefore, reflects the census reference week, May 2 to 8, 2021.

Data used to analyze the concepts of work potential and youth neither in employment nor in education or training (NEET) come directly from the 2022 CSD, rather than data linked to CSD from the 2021 Census. Employment and education information therefore reflect the CSD reference period. Work potential, as defined for persons with disabilities, is not applicable to persons without disabilities. Data for youth without disabilities NEET are not available for the same reference period as was used in this analysis.

Generally, persons who were officially unemployed, or who were not in the labour force but stated they would be looking for work in the next 12 months, and said that either they were not prevented from working due to their condition, or that workplace accommodations existed that would enable them to work, were classified as potential workers. See Text box 5 in "A demographic, employment and income profile of persons with disabilities aged 15 years and over in Canada, 2022," for detailed information on how work potential was defined.

It is important to note that the income and poverty data included in the 2022 CSD are linked from the 2021 Census and pertain to reference year 2020.

The Market Basket Measure has been Canada's official measure of poverty since 2018. The measure is based on the cost of a specific set ("basket") of goods and services representing a modest, basic standard of living (i.e., food, clothing, shelter, transportation and other necessities) for a given region and family size. The disposable income of a family is then compared against this threshold to determine whether the family is at or above or below this threshold. Individuals in a family living below the threshold are considered to have low income or be living in poverty. For more information, see the "Report on the second comprehensive review of the Market Basket Measure".

Contact information

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