Measuring disability in Canada

Release date: December 2, 2022
Infographic: Measuring disability in Canada
Description: Measuring disability in Canada

The 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) collected data on experiences of persons with disabilities.

The CSD is based on a social model of disabilities, which considers disability to be the result of the interaction between a person’s functional limitations and barriers in the environment, including social and physical barriers that make it harder to function day to day. Data from the 2022 CSD will provide updated information on persons with disabilities in Canada; results will be available in 2023.

In 2017, 6.2 million (22%) Canadians aged 15 and older had a disability.

  • Women: 24%
  • Men: 20%
  • Youth aged 15 to 24: 13%
  • Working-age adults aged 25 to 64: 20%
  • Seniors aged 65 and older: 38%

The majority of people have two or more types of disabilities:

  • One disability type: 29%
  • Two or more types of disabilities: 71%

The 2017 CSD provides data on 10 different disability types
Table summary
This table displays the results of The 2017 CSD provides data on 10 different disability types Men and Women, calculated using Percentage units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Men Women
Developmental 7.0 3.5
Memory 17.2 16.5
Dexterity 17.8 22.5
Learning 19.7 16.1
Seeing 22.3 25.9
Hearing 25.9 17.8
Mental health-related 27.3 36.5
Mobility 38.9 46.0
Flexibility 44.4 45.0
Pain-related 61.1 68.2

The CSD used the Disability Screening Questions to identify four classes of disability severity. The severity score is determined by both the intensity and frequency of activity limitations.

The name assigned to each class is intended to facilitate use of the severity score and is not a label or judgment about the person’s level of disability.

Proportion of people with a disability, by disability severity

  • Mild: 37%
  • Moderate: 20%
  • Severe: 21%
  • Very severe: 22%

For more information, see the Canadian Survey on Disability, 2017: Concepts and Methods Guide on the Statistics Canada website.

Source: 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability.

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