A Snapshot of Disability in Canada
Disability affects all of us at some point in our lives. Researchers at Laurier are working to affect change in the Region of Waterloo.
People with disabilities represent the largest and most diverse minority worldwide (Couser, 2005; United Nations, 2006). The most recent Canadian statistics were collected in the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability. At that time, 13.7% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported a disability; pain, flexibility, and mobility were the most common concerns (Statistics Canada, 2015).
The likelihood of having disability was affected by personal factors, such as age and gender. For example, disability rates increased with age, affecting 42.5% of individuals aged 75 and over. Women are more likely to experience disability than men in most age groups, except for age 15-24, in which rates are similar between genders. One in four people (25%) reported that their disability was severe, and four out of five people with a disability (80%) relied on assistive devices, like a cane or a hearing aid.
Unfortunately, the 2012 report only collected information about Canadians 15 and older, so we know little about disability in childhood. The most recent statistics were recorded in 2006, when 1.5% (or 202,350) of Canadian children aged 0 to 14 were reported to have a disability (Statistics Canada, 2008). Of all school aged children aged 5 to 14-years-old, 3.2% reported a disability (Statistics Canada, 2008). A more recent report in Ontario estimated that disability more realistically affects one in nine children aged 18 and under, or 11.1% (Stapleton et al, 2015).
Chronic, learning, and speech related disabilities were the most common disability, and boys were more likely to be diagnosed that girls. It was also found that children diagnosed with one disability were more likely to be diagnosed with another disability. Three in four children had at least two diagnosed disabilities and with each additional diagnosis came greater health concerns.
The purpose of this post is not to show how “bad” disability rates are in Canada, but to remind us that disability is all around us. Further, disability is not always negative. Our various abilities and disabilities contribute to a rich society and we all have something to learn from each other. If you experience a disability or are caring for someone with a disability, you are not alone! Nicole and her peers at Laurier are doing some great research about developmental disorders, caregivers, social inclusion, and physical activity. If you are interested in learning more about our research or about resources available for families, contact Nicole: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Couser, G. T. (2005). Disability, Life Narrative, and Representation. Modern Language Association, 120(2), 602–606.
Stapleton, J., Pooran, B., Douchet, R., Briggs, A., & Lee, C. R. (2015). Every Ninth Child in Ontario: A Cost-Benefit Analysis for Investing in the Care of Special Needs Children and Youth in Ontario. Retrieved from https://openpolicyontario.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2015/12/every-ninth-child-report-final.pdf
Statistics Canada. (2015). Disability in Canada: Initial Findings form the Canadian Survey on Disability. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-654-x/89-654-x2013002-eng.htm
Statistics Canada (2008). Profile of Disability for Children. Retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-628-x/2007002/4125020-eng.htm
United Nations. (2006). Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Retrieved on December 9th, 2016 from http://www.un.org/disabilities/convention/facts.shtml