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Issues people face and deal with

Approximately one in seven Canadians – 4.4 million adults and children – is living with a disability.1 According to HRSDC, the number of people reporting a disability increased from 12.4% to 14.3%. This increase was reported in all age groups and was largely due to the ageing population, as well as to an increase in reported learning disabilities.1
According to another source, Participation and Activity Limitation survey (PALS 2006) disability rates for adults 15 yrs and over increased from 15.5% in 2001 to 16.6% in 2006. Regardless of age, about 36% of disabled persons have a mild impairment, 24% moderate, 27% severe and 13% are living with very severe disability. Among various types of disabilities - about 34 % of all persons with disabilities suffer from mobility problems, pain and agility; another 10% are limited by sensory deficits such as hearing, vision and speech impairment; close to 8 % are limited by cognitive problems (learning, development, memory & psychological conditions). Among all people with disabilities in Canada close to 30% are disabled adults (aged 15 to 65), 25% are older adults (aged 65 to 75) and 45% are over 75 years (PALS 2006).
It is much harder for a disabled person to find employment and they need work accommodations. Families of disabled adults with special needs have to live and cope with increased stress. The main source of stress for them is to find time to care for the child/adult and other responsibilities. Half of these caregivers work less hours because of a loved one’s condition and a third of them quit working altogether. The impact of disability on their marriages is stress and depression, arguments, lack of sleep, financial difficulties and problems at work. Employment impact on caregivers is significant for the economy. Among caregivers, 26% are unable to take a job, 22% quit working, 37% change work hours, 20% turn down promotions, and 38% work fewer hours. The rate of caregiver strain and burnout is high without proper services.

These are some examples of how people feel living with disability:

  • Difficulties communicating or expressing self
  • Having language, cognitive, physical or mental barriers to communication
  • Socially isolated
  • Problems finding community services
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Difficulties with personal care
  • Dependence on others with meals, supervision, personal care, outings, etc.
  • Poor understanding of unique needs and lack of support
  • Exclusion from others
  • Few places that can accommodate needs
  • Inability to get involved
  • Not many places to go to
  • Not involved with local community
  • Few places to live or stay that are suitable to needs
  • Cannot get around
  • Potential institutionalization or placement to group living

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1Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. 2009 Federal Disability Report: Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities. 2009.


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