2010 FDR - Chapter 4: Employment

Employment is an important aspect of adult living. Fulfilling work leads to positive outcomes for workers, such as employment income, a sense of accomplishment and enlarged social networks. In Canada, the Employment Equity Act is designed to eliminate systemic barriers to employment and open doors for workers with disabilities. However, even with open doors, many potential workers with disabilities must overcome barriers and use accommodations in order to gain and retain employment.

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Employment equity

Every year, large employers Footnote 22 in the federal jurisdiction report on their progress in meeting legislated employment equity benchmarks set by the federal government. Footnote 21 These benchmarks outline the percentage of the workforce that should be occupied by the four designated employment equity groups: people with disabilities, women, Aboriginal people and members of visible minorities. The benchmarks are set to match each designated group’s percentage availability in the share of the workforce from which employers hire. Footnote 23

From 2006 to 2007, the workforce representation rate for people with disabilities remained stable. However, people with disabilities remain under-represented in the federally regulated private sector (this sector includes banks and radio and television broadcasting). Footnote 24 The federal public service continues to employ people with disabilities at a rate higher than the availability rate.

Chart 4.1 lists the 2006 and 2007 representation rates and the 2001 availability rates for people with disabilities in each sector governed by the Employment Equity Act. In the public sector, the representation rate has remained stable since 2001, with minimal increases between 2001 and 2007.

Chart 4.1: Representation rates and availability rates for working-age adults with disabilities (%)
Representation Rate Availability Rate
2007 2006 2001
Private sector
Total private sector 2.7 2.7 5.8
Public sector
Federal public service 5.9 5.7 3.6
Separate employers 4.9 5.0 5.8
Other public sector employers 1.4 1.4 5.8
Total public sector 4.2 4.1 4.7
Total for both sectors 3.2 3.2 5.4
Chart 4.1 Text Description

This chart describes the representation rates and availability rates for working-age adults with disabilities, 2007 (percent)

The representation rate is described in percentages for 2007 and 2006, the availability rate is described in percentages for 2001.

The chart describes the representation rate in the private sector, the public sector and the total for both sectors.

For the private sector the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities for the total public sector is 2.7 percent in 2007 and 2.7 percent in 2006. The availability rate is 5.8 percent in 2001.

For the Federal public service in the public sector the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities is 5.9 percent in 2007 and is 5.7 percent in 2006. The availability rate is 3.6 percent in 2001.

For separate employers in the public sector the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities is 4.9 percent in 2007 and is 5.0 percent in 2006. The availability rate is 5.8 percent in 2001.

For other public sector employers in the public sector the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities is 1.4 percent in 2007 and is 1.4 percent in 2006. The availability rate is 5.8 percent in 2001.

For the total public sector employers in the public sector the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities is 4.2 percent in 2007 and is 4.1 percent in 2006. The availability rate is 4.7 percent in 2001.

For the total for both private and public sectors, the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities is 3.2 percent in 2007 and is 3.2 percent in 2006. The total availability rate for both sectors is 5.4 percent.

Source: Employment Equity Act: Annual Report 2008

In the private sector, banks have the highest representation rate for people with disabilities. Chart 4.2 shows that representation rates have increased steadily in the banking sector. In contrast, representation rates have stayed level or dropped in the transportation sector since 2001.

Chart 4.2: Representation rates in selected sectors within the private sector for working-age adults with disabilities, 2007 (%)
Sector 2001 2006 2007
Banking 2.0 3.4 3.6
Communications 2.3 2.5 2.5
Transportation 2.4 2.3 2.1
Other 2.7 2.3 2.3
All 2.3 2.7 2.7
Chart 4.2 Text Description

This chart describes the representation rates in selected sectors within the private sector for working-age adults with disabilities, 2007 (percent)

This chart has four columns, one that names which type of private sector industry being measured, and three describing the representation rate in percent for working-age adults with disabilities in 2001, 2006 and 2007.

For the banking sector, the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities in 2001 is 2.0 percent, in 2006 is 3.4 percent and in 2007 is 3.6 percent.

For the communications sector, the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities in 2001 is 2.3 percent, in 2006 is 2.5 percent and in 2007 is 2.5 percent.

For the transportation sector, the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities in 2001 is 2.4 percent, in 2006 is 2.3 percent and in 2007 is 2.1 percent.

For all other sectors the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities in 2001 is 2.7 percent, in 2006 is 2.3 percent and in 2007 is 2.3 percent.

For all sectors the representation rate for working-age adults with disabilities in 2001 is 2.3 percent, in 2006 is 2.7 percent and in 2007 is 2.7 percent.

Source: Employment Equity Act: Annual Report 2008

Employment equity and human rights legislation are legal avenues for policy-makers to ensure access to the labour market for all people with disabilities. Canada’s aging population is affecting the disability community in multiple ways. Disability rates rise with age—disability is likely to become more prevalent in our aging workforce. As a result, one way to increase the labour supply and respond to the skilled worker shortage is to maximize participation in the labour force for people with disabilities.

Labour force participation

Participation in the labour market Footnote 25 is important for financial security and personal independence. Many people with disabilities have to overcome work-related barriers and challenges that people without disabilities do not. People with disabilities may be limited in the amount of work they can do in the workplace, or they may require workplace modifications or flexible working arrangements that employers are sometimes reluctant to support or pay for.

In addition to accommodation challenges, workers with disabilities face the possibility of employer discrimination and social exclusion. Accumulated case law requires Canadian employers to accommodate worker needs to the point of “undue hardship.” Examining the characteristics of working-age adults with disabilities who do not participate in the labour force may provide some answers as to why many people with disabilities forgo participation in the labour market, as well as ideas for types of modifications and solutions that could enable them to enter the labour market.

The overall labour force participation rate for working-age adults with disabilities is 59.6% (1 379 325 people). In comparison, the participation rate for working-age adults without disabilities is 80.2% (15 163 250 people). Chart 4.3 shows that people with mild disabilities have higher labour force participation rates than people with moderate, severe or very severe disabilities.

Chart 4.3: Labour force participation rates by age group and severity of disability for working-age adults, 2006 (%)

A text description of Chart 4.3 is provided below
Chart 4.3 Text Description

This vertical bar graph represents labour force participation rates by age group and severity of disability for working-age adults, 2006 (percent)

This chart is divided into five age group categories from left to right along the horizontal axis:

  • 20 to 24
  • 25 to 54
  • 55 to 64
  • Total

In each category there are four sections (four bars):

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe to very severe
  • No disability

The vertical axis represents the labour force participation rate in percentages. It is measured in increments of 10 from 0 to 100.

For working-age adults ages 15 to 19 with mild disabilities, the labour force participation is 50.4 percent.

For working-age adults ages 15 to 19 with moderate disabilities, the labour force participation is 34.4 percent.

For working-age adults ages 15 to 19 with severe to very severe disabilities, the labour force participation is 27.3 percent.

For working-age adults ages 15 to 19 with no disabilities, the labour force participation is 51.4 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with mild disabilities, the labour force participation is 76.7 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with moderate disabilities, the labour force participation is 65.4 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with severe to very severe disabilities, the labour force participation is 41.3 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with no disabilities, the labour force participation is 81.5 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 24 with mild disabilities, the labour force participation is 79.2 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with moderate disabilities, the labour force participation is 70.3 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with severe to very severe disabilities, the labour force participation is 51.9 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with no disabilities, the labour force participation is 88.2 percent.

For working-age adults ages 55 to 64 with mild disabilities, the labour force participation is 57.3 percent.

For working-age adults ages 55 to 64 with moderate disabilities, the labour force participation is 41.9 percent.

For working-age adults ages 55 to 64 with severe to very severe disabilities, the labour force participation is 31.5 percent.

For working-age adults ages 55 to 64 with no disabilities, the labour force participation is 80.2 percent.

The total labour force participation for working-age adults with mild disabilities is 72.6 percent.

The total labour force participation for working-age adults with moderate disabilities is 61.8 percent.

The total labour force participation for working-age adults with severe to very severe disabilities is 45.2 percent.

The total labour force participation for working-age adults without any disabilities is 80.2 percent.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

Labour force participation rates are highest among younger working-age adults with disabilities, at 66.0%. Although this is above the overall participation rate for people with disabilities, it is 14.2% lower than the overall rate for people without disabilities. Adults with severe to very severe disabilities, especially those ages 20 to 24, have much lower labour force participation rates than adults with mild and moderate disabilities (41.3% versus 76.7% and 65.4% respectively).

Employment

The employment rate for working-age adults with disabilities is significantly lower than the rate for working-age adults without disabilities (53.5% versus 75.1%). Among those who are employed, 82.8% of people with very severe disabilities are limited by their disabilities at work, compared to 27.2% of people with mild disabilities.

Chart 4.4 shows that the largest gap between the employment rates for people with and without disabilities is among younger working-age adults. The employment rate for people with disabilities in this age group is 60.2%, compared to 83.7% for people without disabilities.

Chart 4.4: Employment rates by age group and severity of disability for working-age adults, 2006 (%)

A text description of Chart 4.4 is provided below
Chart 4.4 Text Description

This vertical bar graph represents the employment rates by ages group and severity of disability for working-age adults, 2006 (percent)

This chart is divided into five age group categories from left to right along the horizontal axis:

  • 15 to 19
  • 20 to 24
  • 25 to 54
  • 55 to 64
  • Total

In each category there are four sections (four bars):

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe to very severe
  • No disability

The vertical axis represents the employment rate in percentages, measured in increments of 10 from 0 to 90.

For working-age adults ages 15 to 19 with mild disabilities, the employment rate is 40.7 percent.

For working-age adults ages 15 to 19 with moderate disabilities, the employment rate is 26.9 percent.

For working-age adults ages 15 to 19 with severe to very severe disabilities, the employment rate is 19.7 percent.

For working-age adults ages 15 to 19 with no disabilities, the employment rate is 43.3 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with mild disabilities, the employment rate is 66.6 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with moderate disabilities, the employment rate is 56.6 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with severe to very severe disabilities, the employment rate is 31.9 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with no disabilities, the employment rate is 73.4 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with mild disabilities, the employment rate is 74.2 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with moderate disabilities, the employment rate is 65.4 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with severe to very severe disabilities, the employment rate is 44.6 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with no disabilities, the employment rate is 83.7 percent.

For working-age adults age 55 to 64 with mild disabilities, the employment rate is 54.4 percent.

For working-age adults age 55 to 64 with moderate disabilities, the employment rate is 39.0 percent.

For working-age adults age 55 to 64 with severe to very severe disabilities, the employment rate is 28.5 percent.

For working-age adults age 55 to 64 with no disabilities, the employment rate is 61.6 percent.

The total employment rate for adults ages 15 to 64 with mild disabilities is 66.9 percent.

The total employment rate for adults ages 15 to 64 with moderate disabilities is 56.5 percent.

The total employment rate for adults ages 15 to 64 with severe to very severe disabilities is 38.3 percent.

The total employment rate for adults ages 15 to 64 with no disabilities is 75.1 percent.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

Employment rates for people with severe to very severe disabilities are much lower than rates for people with mild disabilities across all age groups. Among working-age adults, the employment rate for people with mild disabilities is 66.9%, compared to 38.3% for people with severe to very severe disabilities. In fact, the employment rates for people with mild disabilities are only slightly lower than those for people without disabilities.

Almost half (48.9%) of people with disabilities are doing the same work as they were doing before they developed their disabilities. Of those who are doing different work after acquiring their disabilities, 77.5% changed their work responsibilities because of their disabilities. With the onset of new disabilities, over half of people (55.7%) are doing less work. Only 11.6% are doing more work, and 32.7% have not seen a change in the amount of work they are doing.

In terms of career advancement or ability to change jobs, 62.0% of workers with disabilities believe that their disabilities will not have an impact. Most of these workers are people with mild to moderate disabilities. Not surprisingly, those with more severe disabilities have a more reserved view: 69.7% of people with very severe disabilities believe their disabilities will make it very difficult to change jobs or advance in their current job.

Occupation

Participation in the labour market goes beyond simply generating income. Rewarding jobs are contingent on factors such as level of education and type of occupation. The types of occupations people with disabilities choose vary depending on gender, educational attainment, area of residence, and disability type and severity, among numerous other factors that are similar to those that influence people without disabilities.

Chart 4.5 reveals that people with disabilities are more likely to be employed in certain occupations. Overall, compared to people without disabilities, people with disabilities more often work in art, culture, recreation and sport occupations; sales and service occupations; trades, transport and equipment operators occupations; and occupations unique to primary industry.

Chart 4.5: Occupations by disability status and gender for working-age adults, 2006 (%)
Occupation sector Women Men Total
With Disabilities Without Disabilities Total With Disabilities Without Disabilities Total With Disabilities Without Disabilities Total
Management  4.1  7.2  6.9  8.6 11.2 11.0  6.3  9.3  9.0
Business, finance and administrative 24.1 27.0 26.7  9.1  9.7  9.6 16.8 17.9 17.8
Natural and applied sciences  2.0  3.0  2.9  7.8 10.3 10.1  4.8  6.8  6.6
Health  8.4  9.2  9.2  1.0  1.9  1.8  4.8  5.3  5.3
Social sciences, education, government service and religion 10.6 11.3 11.2  3.8  4.7  4.7  7.3  7.9  7.8
Art, culture, recreation and sport  4.3  3.7  3.8  3.5  3.0  3.0  3.9  3.3  3.4
Sales and service 37.7 30.3 31.0 24.4 20.8 21.1 31.3 25.4 25.8
Trades, transport and equipment operators  2.9  2.0  2.1 27.3 25.7 25.9 14.8 14.4 14.5
Primary industry  1.7  1.7  1.7  6.2  5.5  5.6  3.9  3.7  3.7
Processing, manufacturing and utilities  4.2  4.7  4.6  8.5  7.2  7.3  6.2  6.0  6.0
Chart 4.5 Text Description

This chart describes occupation sectors by disability and status for working-age women with, without disabilities and in total (percent); men with, without disabilities and in total  (percent); and total with and without disabilities and in total (percent).

For the management occupation sector, 4.1 percent of working-age women with disabilities are employed in this sector, 7.2 percent of working-age women without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 6.9 percent of women are employed in the management sector. For the same sector 8.6 percent of working-age men with disabilities are employed in this sector, 11.2 percent of working-age men without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 11.0 percent of men are employed in the management sector. For both genders, overall 6.3 percent of working-age men and women with disabilities are employed in the management sector, 9.3 percent of men and women without disabilities are employed in this sector, and overall regardless of disability 9.0 percent of men and women are employed in the management sector.

For the business, finance and administrative occupation sector, 24.1 percent of working-age women with disabilities are employed in this sector, 27.0 percent of working-age women without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 26.7 percent of women are employed in the business finance and administrative sector. For the same sector 9.1 percent of working-age men with disabilities are employed in this sector, 9.7 percent of working-age men without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 9.6 percent of men are employed in the business, finance and administrative sector. For both genders, overall 16.8 percent of working-age men and women with disabilities are employed in the business, finance and administrative sector, 17.9 percent of men and women without disabilities are employed in this sector, and overall regardless of disability 17.8 percent of men and women are employed in the business, finance and administrative sector.

For the natural and applied sciences occupation sector, 2.0 percent of working-age women with disabilities are employed in this sector, 3.0 percent of working-age women without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 2.9 percent of women are employed in the natural and applied sciences sector. For the same sector 7.8 percent of working-age men with disabilities are employed in this sector, 10.3 percent of working-age men without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 10.1 percent of men are employed in the natural and applied sciences sector. For both genders, overall 4.8 percent of working-age men and women with disabilities are employed in the natural and applied sciences sector, 6.8 percent of men and women without disabilities are employed in this sector, and overall regardless of disability 6.6 percent of men and women are employed in the natural and applied sciences sector.

For the health occupation sector, 8.4 percent of working-age women with disabilities are employed in this sector, 9.2 percent of working-age women without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 9.2 percent of women are employed in the health sector. For the same sector 1.0 percent of working-age men with disabilities are employed in this sector, 1.9 percent of working-age men without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 1.8 percent of men are employed in the health sector. For both genders, overall 4.8 percent of working-age men and women with disabilities are employed in the health sector, 5.3 percent of men and women without disabilities are employed in this sector, and overall regardless of disability 5.3 percent of men and women are employed in the health sector.

For the social sciences, education, government service and religion occupation sector, 10.6 percent of working-age women with disabilities are employed in this sector, 11.3 percent of working-age women without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 11.2 percent of women are employed in the social sciences, education, government service and religion sector. For the same sector 3.8 percent of working-age men with disabilities are employed in this sector, 4.7 percent of working-age men without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 4.7 percent of men are employed in the social sciences, education, government service and religion sector. For both genders, overall 7.3 percent of working-age men and women with disabilities are employed in the social sciences, education, government service and religion sector, 7.9 percent of men and women without disabilities are employed in this sector, and overall regardless of disability 7.8 percent of men and women are employed in the social sciences, education, government service and religion sector.

For the art, culture, recreation, and sport occupation sector, 4.3 percent of working-age women with disabilities are employed in this sector, 3.7 percent of working-age women without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 3.8 percent of women are employed in the art, culture, recreation, and sport sector. For the same sector 3.5 percent of working-age men with disabilities are employed in this sector, 3.0 percent of working-age men without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 3.0 percent of men are employed in the art, culture, recreation, and sport sector. For both genders, overall 3.9 percent of working-age men and women with disabilities are employed in the art, culture, recreation, and sport sector, 3.3 percent of men and women without disabilities are employed in this sector, and overall regardless of disability 3.4 percent of men and women are employed in the art, culture, recreation, and sport sector.

For the sales and service occupation sector, 37.7 percent of working-age women with disabilities are employed in this sector, 30.3 percent of working-age women without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 31.0 percent of women are employed in the sales and service sector. For the same sector 24.4 percent of working-age men with disabilities are employed in this sector, 20.8 percent of working-age men without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 21.1 percent of men are employed in the sales and service sector. For both genders, overall 31.3 percent of working-age men and women with disabilities are employed in the sales and service sector, 25.4 percent of men and women without disabilities are employed in this sector, and overall regardless of disability 25.8 percent of men and women are employed in the sales and service sector.

For the trades, transport, and equipment operators sector, 2.9 percent of working-age women with disabilities are employed in this sector, 2.0 percent of working-age women without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 2.1 percent of women are employed in the trades, transport, and equipment operators sector. For the same sector 27.3 percent of working-age men with disabilities are employed in this sector, 25.7 percent of working-age men without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 25.9 percent of men are employed in the trades, transport, and equipment operators sector. For both genders, overall 14.8 percent of working-age men and women with disabilities are employed in the trades, transport, and equipment operators sector, 14.4 percent of men and women without disabilities are employed in this sector, and overall regardless of disability 14.5 percent of men and women are employed in the trades, transport, and equipment operators sector.

For the primary industry occupation sector, 1.7 percent of working-age women with disabilities are employed in this sector, 1.7 percent of working-age women without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 1.7 percent of women are employed in the primary industry sector. For the same sector 6.2 percent of working-age men with disabilities are employed in this sector, 5.5 percent of working-age men without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 5.6 percent of men are employed in the primary industry sector. For both genders, overall 3.9 percent of working-age men and women with disabilities are employed in the primary industry sector, 3.7 percent of men and women without disabilities are employed in this sector, and overall regardless of disability 3.7 percent of men and women are employed in the primary industry sector.

For the processing, manufacturing, and utilities occupation sector, 4.2 percent of working-age women with disabilities are employed in this sector, 4.7 percent of working-age women without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 4.6 percent of women are employed in the processing, manufacturing, and utilities sector. For the same sector 8.5 percent of working-age men with disabilities are employed in this sector, 7.2 percent of working-age men without disabilities are employed in this sector and overall 7.3 percent of men are employed in the processing, manufacturing, and utilities sector. For both genders, overall 6.2 percent of working-age men and women with disabilities are employed in the processing, manufacturing, and utilities sector, 6.0 percent of men and women without disabilities are employed in this sector, and overall regardless of disability 6.0 percent of men and women are employed in the processing, manufacturing, and utilities sector.

  1. Numbers are age-standardized.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

Women with disabilities are more likely to work in business, finance and administrative occupations; sales and service occupations; occupations in social sciences, education, government service and religion; and health occupations, rather than in occupations relating to manufacturing or trades. Men with disabilities are more likely to work in the trades, transport and equipment operators occupations than both women in general and men without disabilities.

Unemployment

People with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed than people without disabilities. The unemployment rate is a key economic indicator for people with disabilities because not all people with disabilities are able to work. The unemployment rate measures labour market success for people with disabilities and can be directly compared to the rate for people without disabilities, because it is based only on those who are available to work. The unemployment rate for working-age adults with disabilities is 10.4%, compared to 6.8% for working-age adults without disabilities.

Chart 4.6 shows that unemployment is higher among people with severe to very severe disabilities (15.2%) than among those with other levels of disability severity.

Chart 4.6: Unemployment rates by age group and severity of disability for working-age adults, 2006 (%)

A text description of Chart 4.6 is provided below
Chart 4.6 Text Description

This vertical bar graph represents the unemployment rates by age group and severity of disability for working-age adults, 2006.

This chart is divided into five age group categories from left to right along the horizontal axis:

  • 15 to 19
  • 20 to 24
  • 25 to 54
  • 55 to 64
  • Total

In each category there are four sections (four bars):

  • Mild
  • Moderate
  • Severe to very severe
  • No disability

The vertical axis represents the unemployment rate in percentages, measured in increments of 5 from 0 to 30.

For working-age adults ages 15 to19 with mild disabilities, the unemployment rate is 19.2 percent.

For working-age adults ages 15 to19 with moderate disabilities, the unemployment rate is 21.7 percent.

For working-age adults ages 15 to19 with severe to very severe disabilities, the unemployment rate is 27.8 percent.

For working-age adults ages 15 to19 with no disabilities, the unemployment rate is 15.9 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with mild disabilities, the unemployment rate is 13.1 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with moderate disabilities, the unemployment rate is 13.5 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with severe to very severe disabilities, the unemployment rate is 22.7 percent.

For working-age adults ages 20 to 24 with no disabilities, the unemployment rate is 9.9 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with mild disabilities, the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with moderate disabilities, the unemployment rate is 6.9 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with severe to very severe disabilities, the unemployment rate is 8.6 percent.

For working-age adults ages 25 to 54 with no disabilities, the unemployment rate is 5.1 percent.

For working-age adults ages 55 to 64 with mild disabilities, the unemployment rate is 5.4 percent.

For working-age adults ages 55 to 64 with moderate disabilities, the unemployment rate is 6.5 percent.

For working-age adults ages 55 to 64 with severe to very severe disabilities, the unemployment rate is 8.6 percent.

For working-age adults ages 55 to 64 with no disabilities, the unemployment rate is 5.4 percent.

The total unemployment rate for adults with mild disabilities is 8.3 percent.

The total unemployment rate for adults with moderate disabilities is 9.1 percent.

The total unemployment rate for adults with severe to very severe disabilities is 15.2 percent.

The total unemployment rate for adults with no disabilities is 6.8 percent.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

Unemployment rates decrease sharply for younger working-age adults with disabilities (by almost 50% for people with severe to very severe disabilities) once they complete their schooling and enter the workforce in their prime working years. For older working-age adults with disabilities, there are small differences in unemployment rates across disability status and severity.

Severity of disability can have a significant impact on the ability of people who are unemployed to pursue employment: 87.9% of people with very severe disabilities are limited in their ability to look for work, compared to 66.5%, 42.4% and 21.8% of people with severe, moderate and mild disabilities respectively. Among those who are unemployed and looking for work, 52.5% want only full-time work, with the majority (70.9%) of these individuals having mild disabilities. People with very severe disabilities are least likely to desire full-time work (20.5%) but are more flexible in working either part time or full time (42.0%). Men are more likely to prefer full-time work than women (57.5% versus 46.2%), while the opposite is true for a preference for part-time work (38.4% of women and 22.3% of men).

Not in the labour force

In 2006, there were approximately 1 million working-age adults with disabilities (43.8%) not in the labour force. The most common barriers to labour force participation for people with disabilities are their disabilities themselves. Most people with disabilities who are not in the labour force are either limited in the kind of work they can do or completely prevented from working due to their disabilities. In fact, 65.0% of people with disabilities who are not in the labour force are completely prevented from working, including 76.1% of people with severe disabilities and 83.9% of people with very severe disabilities. Additionally, 12.1% of people with disabilities who are not in the labour force are limited in their ability to look for work.

Workplace needs

Employer awareness of employees’ disabilities is important to ensure that proper workplace modifications are in place so that employees with disabilities have the same opportunities as employees without disabilities. Footnote 27 Nearly three quarters (74.7%) of employed people with disabilities have informed their employers of their disabilities. People who have mild to moderate disabilities are less likely than those with severe to very severe disabilities to inform their employers (72.7% versus 82.4%).

Three quarters (75.7%) of people with disabilities believe they are given the opportunity to use their education, skills and work experience in their current jobs. Furthermore, 71.3% indicate that their jobs require the education they have attained. However, among those whose jobs do not require the level of education they currently have, 80.5% are doing less work than what their education prepared them for. Footnote 28 In other words, although people with disabilities have the required education and are using some skills they learned in school on the job, for many, the skills and knowledge required for their jobs are not nearly as extensive as their qualifications.

Employed people with disabilities are more likely to have all of their needs for aids and devices met (60.4%) than people with disabilities who are unemployed (56.0%) or not in the labour force (51.0%). Chart 4.7 shows needs for and provision of workplace accommodations. Many people with disabilities are working in places where accommodations have already been made available, regardless of whether a need for them has been identified.

Chart 4.7: Workplace accommodations for working-age adults with disabilities, 2006 (%)
Type of accommodation Requires Accommodation Workplace Has Made Accommodation Available
Job redesign (modified or different duties) 14.1 45.4
Modified hours or days, or reduced work hours 20.0 58.9
Human support, such as a reader, sign language interpreter, job coach or personal assistant  2.7 34.3
Technical aids, such as a voice synthesizer, aTTYor TDD, an infrared system or portable note-takers  1.5 31.6
A computer with Braille, large print, voice recognition or a scanner  1.6 30.4
Communication aids, such as Braille or large print reading material or recording equipment  0.8 24.9
A modified or ergonomic workstation 10.6 54.3
A special chair or back support 16.3 50.3
Handrails and ramps  2.0 38.1
Appropriate parking  3.8 48.6
An accessible elevator  3.1 45.1
Accessible washrooms  3.6 62.4
Accessible transportation  2.6 45.5
Other equipment, help or work arrangements  3.6 N/A
Chart 4.7 Text Description

Working-age adults with disabilities have access to a variety of different types of accommodation. This chart describes what type of accommodation is possible, and what percentage of working-age adults with disabilities require accommodation and which have had accommodations made available to them.

For a job redesign (modified or different duties), 14.1 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 45.4 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For modified hours or days, or reduced work hours, 20.0 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 58.9 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For human support, such as a reader, sign language interpreter, job coach or personal assistant, 2.7 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 34.3 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For technical aids, such as a voice synthesizer, a TTY or TDD, an infrared system or portable note-takers, 1.5 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 31.6 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For a computer with Braille, large print, voice recognition or a scanner, 1.6 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 30.4 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For communication aids, such as a Braille or large print reading material or recording equipment, 0.8 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 24.9 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For a modified or ergonomic workstation, 10.6 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 54.3 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For a special chair or back support, 16.3 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 50.3 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For handrails and ramps, 2.0 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 38.1 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For appropriate parking, 3.8 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 48.6 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For an accessible elevator, 3.1 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 45.1 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For accessible washrooms, 3.6 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 62.4 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For accessible transportation, 2.6 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation, and for 45.5 percent of working age adults with disabilities the workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not.

For other equipment, help, or work arrangements, 3.6 percent of working age adults with disabilities require accommodation. The percent of working age adults with disabilities whose workplace has made this accommodation available regardless of whether they require it or not is too small for publication.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

Whether they consist of job redesign, human support or appropriate handrails and ramps, modifications in the workplace enable people with disabilities to participate more fully in the workplace environment. The most common modifications required by workers with disabilities include modified hours (20.0%), a special chair (16.3%) and job redesign (14.1%).

Among employed people with disabilities who do not receive the workplace accommodations they need, 12.6% indicate their employers believe that the workplace modifications are too expensive to buy and maintain, 8.8% say their requests were refused by their employers, 14.7% are afraid to ask, and 21.8% simply have not asked for the needed accommodations.

Among people with disabilities who are unemployed, 11.6% have none of their employment-related needs for aids and devices met, while 32.4% have some needs met and 56.0% have all of their needs met. Severity of disability has an impact on the level of met needs: 5.0% of unemployed people with mild disabilities have all of their needs for aids and devices met, in contrast to 41.2% of those with very severe disabilities.

Workplace arrangements, modified duties and technical aids provided by employers may enable some people with disabilities to enter the labour force. However, only a small percentage (15.4%) of people with disabilities who are not in the labour force Footnote 29 and have a condition that completely prevents them from working report that the modifications listed above would enable them to work in a paid job or business.

Chart 4.8 shows barriers experienced by working-age adults who are not in the labour force. Generally, people with severe to very severe disabilities encounter more barriers that discourage them from looking for work than those with milder disabilities.

Chart 4.8: Barriers to job seeking by severity of disability for working-age adults not in the labour force, 2006 (%)
Barrier Mild Disability Moderate Disability Severe Disability Very Severe Disability Total
Training is not adequate  9.3 18.0 25.2 31.5 19.3
Lose some or all income 12.4 15.3 23.4 21.6 17.6
No jobs available 10.6 14.3 20.1 17.1 15.2
Prevented by family responsibilities 18.9 10.9 11.6  9.3 13.3
Lack of accessible transportation  9.2  8.6 14.5 24.6 12.8
Been a victim of discrimination  8.7  8.3 16.6 20.9 12.7
Lose some or all current supports  4.7 11.8 15.2 17.8 11.5
Information about jobs not adapted to needs  3.1  7.2 16.5 12.2  9.3
Worried about being isolated by workers on the job  3.3  9.3 11.7 13.8  8.8
Family and friends discouraged working  3.9  5.6  6.1  4.5  5.0
Other reason 24.6 18.1 30.1 38.7 26.5
Chart 4.8 Text Description

This chart describes the barriers to job seeking by severity of disability (mild, moderate, severe, very severe and total) for working-age adults not in the labour force. The barriers are listed down the left hand side of the chart.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 9.3 percent with mild disabilities have inadequate training; 18.0 percent with moderate disabilities have inadequate training; 25.2 percent with severe disabilities have inadequate training; 31.5 percent with very severe disabilities have inadequate training; and in total regardless of disability severity 19.3 percent of working age adults not in the labour force have inadequate training.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 12.4 percent with mild disabilities lose some or all income; 15.3 percent with moderate disabilities lose some or all income; 23.4 percent with severe disabilities lose some or all income; 21.6 percent with very severe disabilities lose some or all income; and in total regardless of disability severity 17.6 percent of working age adults not in the labour force lose some or all income.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 10.6 percent with mild disabilities have no available jobs; 14.3 percent with moderate disabilities have no available jobs; 20.1 percent with severe disabilities have no available jobs; 17.1 percent with very severe disabilities have no available jobs; and in total regardless of disability severity 15.2 percent of working age adults not in the labour force have no available jobs.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 18.9 percent with mild disabilities are prevented by family responsibilities; 10.9 percent with moderate disabilities are prevented by family responsibilities; 11.6 percent with severe disabilities are prevented by family responsibilities; 9.3 percent with very severe disabilities are prevented by family responsibilities; and in total regardless of disability severity 13.3 percent of working age adults not in the labour force are prevented by family responsibilities.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 9.2 percent with mild disabilities lack accessible transportation; 8.6 percent with moderate disabilities lack accessible transportation; 14.5 percent with severe disabilities lack accessible transportation; 24.6 percent with very severe disabilities lack accessible transportation; and in total regardless of disability severity 12.8 percent of working age adults not in the labour force lack accessible transportation.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 8.7 percent with mild disabilities have been a victim of discrimination; 8.3 percent with moderate disabilities have been a victim of discrimination; 16.6 percent with severe disabilities have been a victim of discrimination; 20.9 percent with very severe disabilities have been a victim of discrimination; and in total regardless of disability severity 12.7 percent of working age adults not in the labour force have been a victim of discrimination.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 4.7 percent with mild disabilities lose some or all current supports; 11.8 percent with moderate disabilities lose some or all current supports; 15.2 percent with severe disabilities lose some or all current supports; 17.8 percent with very severe disabilities lose some or all current supports; and in total regardless of disability severity 11.5 percent of working age adults not in the labour force lose some or all current supports.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 3.1 percent with mild disabilities find information about jobs not adapted to needs; 7.2 percent with moderate disabilities find information about jobs not adapted to needs; 16.5 percent with severe disabilities find information about jobs not adapted to needs; 12.2 percent with very severe disabilities find information about jobs not adapted to needs; and in total regardless of disability severity 9.3 percent of working age adults not in the labour force find information about jobs not adapted to needs.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 3.3 percent with mild disabilities are worried about being isolated by workers on the job; 9.3 percent with moderate disabilities are worried about being isolated by workers on the job; 11.7 percent with severe disabilities are worried about being isolated by workers on the job; 13.8 percent with very severe disabilities are worried about being isolated by workers on the job; and in total regardless of disability severity 8.8 percent of working age adults not in the labour force are worried about being isolated by workers on the job.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 3.9 percent with mild disabilities, family and friends discourage them from working; 5.6 percent with moderate disabilities, family and friends discourage them from working; 6.1 percent with severe disabilities, family and friends discourage them from working; 4.5 percent with very severe disabilities, family and friends discourage them from working; and in total regardless of disability severity 5.0 percent of working age adults not in the labour force, family and friends discourage them from working.

For working-age adults not in the labour force 24.6 percent with mild disabilities have some other (not described above) reason; 18.1 percent with moderate disabilities have some other (not described above) reason; 30.1 percent with severe disabilities have some other (not described above) reason; 38.7 percent with very severe disabilities have some other (not described above) reason; and in total regardless of disability severity 26.5 percent of working age adults not in the labour force have some other (not described above) reason.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey

Approximately 17.6% of people who are not in the labour force are discouraged from looking for work because of the potential of losing some or all of their current social transfer income if they work, while 11.5% are worried about losing access to their drug plans or housing subsidies. Recent discrimination, fear of isolation from co-workers, Footnote 30 lack of training and lack of accessible transportation are other barriers that people with disabilities report encountering on a daily basis that discourage them from looking for future work.

People with disabilities who are not in the labour force are more likely to have none of their needs for employment-related aids and devices met (12.4%) and less likely to have all of their needs met (51.0%) than people with disabilities who are employed or unemployed. In terms of disability severity, people with moderate disabilities are the most likely to have none of their needs met (16.0%, compared to 10.4% of people with very severe disabilities), while people with very severe disabilities are the most likely to have some needs met (58.4%). This may be an indication that those who have more severe disabilities have a better chance of gaining recognition that they require supports.

Discrimination

Unfortunately, disability-related discrimination Footnote 31 still exists in Canada today. Discrimination can take many forms, including physical discrimination (e.g. refusing reasonable requests to modify existing facilities to make them physically accessible), verbal discrimination (e.g. harassing comments), and non-verbal discrimination (e.g. rejecting job applications from people with disabilities).

People with disabilities who are unemployed are most likely to report perceived employment-related discrimination, followed by people who are not in the labour force and then by those who are employed. Among those who are unemployed, 18.6% perceive that they have been refused job interviews due to their disabilities, and 26.1% believe that they have been refused jobs because of their disabilities.

The likelihood of reporting discrimination also increases with severity of disability: 22.7% of people with very severe disabilities believe they have been refused jobs due to their disabilities, compared to 3.9% of those with mild disabilities. Among people with disabilities who are unemployed, 75.7% of those with very severe disabilities believe they have been refused a job due to their disabilities, compared to 7.9% of those with mild disabilities.

Among people with disabilities who are employed, 6.4% believe they were given less responsibility than their co-workers without disabilities because of their disabilities. In fact, 40.4% of people with disabilities believe their current employer or any potential employer would likely consider them disadvantaged in their employment. This figure is much higher for people with very severe disabilities (82.6%).

Conclusion

Workers with disabilities make up a significant portion of the workforce, and a number of unemployed working-age adults with disabilities are qualified and ready to work. However, despite the Employment Equity Act Footnote 32 and a growing need for skilled workers, the statistics presented in this chapter reveal that many people with disabilities remain underemployed and discriminated against. With growing built accessibility of workplaces and social accessibility of employers in supporting workers’ needs for accommodations and workplace modifications, Canada can benefit greatly from integrating adults with disabilities into the workforce.

Spotlight on Programs: Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program

Western Economic Diversification Canada funds the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program. This program provides Western Canadians with disabilities access to business information, training and development, mentoring and one-on-one counselling services, and financing in their pursuit of self-employment and entrepreneurship.

The Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program is designed to benefit Western Canadians who have a disability that impairs their ability to perform at least one of the basic activities of self-employment or entrepreneurship. To be considered for support, entrepreneurs must:

  • have been unsuccessful in acquiring funding for business from other sources;
  • be restricted in the ability to perform at least one of the basic activities of entrepreneurship or self-employment;
  • have a physical or mental disability;
  • have a viable business plan and be a new or current small business owner with a disability; and
  • reside in Western Canada.

The types of projects supported by this program include:

  • starting or expanding a business;
  • purchasing and applying new technology;
  • upgrading facilities and equipment;
  • developing marketing and promotions materials; and
  • establishing working capital for anticipated sales increases.

For more information about the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program, please visit www.wd.gc.ca/eng/13643.asp.

Spotlight on Ellen Frank

Ellen Frank is one of the many individuals who have established business ventures through the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program. Ellen was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis many years ago, eventually losing most of her mobility. It was from this perspective that she discovered the need for an accessibility guidebook for travelers visiting the British Columbia's Lower Sunshine Coast. Ellen’s previous experiences in the travel industry provided her with the background to research and write the Sticks and Wheels guidebook.

Ellen received support through the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program to develop her idea.  In addition to the guidebook, Ellen went on to create Sticks and Wheels Accessibility Services, which provides consultation services for businesses regarding accessibility issues. Most recently, Sticks and Wheels Accessibility Services was hired to conduct accessibility surveys of Lower Mainland businesses for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. In the future, Ellen plans to continue consulting, speaking at workshops, and expanding the Sticks and Wheels guidebook to other B.C. communities.

For more information about Ellen’s company, please visit www.sticksandwheels.net/.

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