Canadians with Disabilities
Results from the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability are now available. The first report confirms what many within Canada's diverse disability community already knew: Canadians who live with disabilities face barriers to full participation in society. These barriers include access to inclusive and accommodating employment, mental and physical well-being, and economic security, among others. Canadians with disabilities who are employed earn less than their non-disabled counterpart. While these statistics are an important reminder of the significant work ahead of us, we must also recognize that within these statistics lives diversity. An intersectional approach to research and policy development will ensure that the voices of diverse Canadians with disabilities are not only heard and included, but elevated such that urgent action can take place.
1. Women and Disability
Compared to men with disabilities, women with disabilities at almost any age were more likely to experience a disability, were at a greater risk of unemployment, and earned less than both their male counterparts and women without disabilities. Women with disabilities were more likely then men with disabilities to be lone parents. Importantly, women with severe disabilities who were lone parents were more likely to experience poverty than men with disabilities and women with milder disabilities.
2. Youth and Disability
Over 500,000 youth in Canada had one or more disabilities, with mental health-related disability being the most prevalent type. Importantly, young women were almost twice as likely as young men to have a mental health-related disability. About one third of youth with severe disabilities were neither in school nor employed.
3. Intersecting Disability
Over two-thirds of persons with disabilities aged 15 and over have at least two or more disability types. As Canadians age, the number of disability types they experience increases, creating complex layers of disability, which can intersect with other forms of social and economic oppression such as classism, racism, ageism or sexism, among others.
4. Livelihoods and Disability
Youths and adults with severe disabilities who were living alone or were lone parents had the highest rates of poverty. For those living alone with severe disabilities, 60% were living below the poverty line. Only 49% of women and men with disabilities between 25 and 64 are employed, compared with 79% of their non-disabled counterparts.1 With low employment rates, many disabled people in Canada rely on government transfers for income. Transfers make up 75.5% of the income of low-income women with disabilities compared with 63.1% for low income men with disabilities and 50.3% for low income women without disabilities.2
Primary infographic source:
Morris, S., G. Fawcett, L. Brisebois & J. Hughes (2018). A demographic, employment and income profile of Canadians with disabilities aged 15 years and over, 2017. Statistics Canada.
1. Turcotte, M. (2014). Persons with disabilities and employment. Insights on Canadian Society, Statistics Canada.
2. Crawford,C. (2015). “Looking into Poverty: Income Sources of Poor People with Disabilities in Canada.” In Disabling Poverty, Enabling Citizenship, edited by Council of Canadians with Disabilities, 30-70. Winnipeg, MB: Council of Canadians with Disabilities.