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Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012

Released: 2013-12-03

In 2012, about 3.8 million people, or 13.7% of Canadians aged 15 and older, reported being limited in their daily activities because of a disability. The results come from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), which is being released today to coincide with the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The CSD uses new questions to identify disability. The 10 disability types captured within the CSD are seeing, hearing, mobility, flexibility, dexterity, pain, learning, developmental, mental/psychological, and memory. Persons were identified as having a disability if they had difficulty performing tasks as a result of a long-term condition or health-related problem and experienced a limitation in their daily activities.

The prevalence of disability increases steadily with age. Nearly 1 in 10 working-age Canadians (aged 15 to 64) reported having a disability in 2012, compared with almost one-third of Canadian seniors (aged 65 and older). Women (14.9%) have a higher prevalence of disability than men (12.5%).

Canadians reported different types of disability depending on their age. The youngest age group, those aged 15 to 24, most commonly reported mental/psychological disabilities (2.2%), learning disabilities (2.0%) and pain (1.9%). Among those aged 45 to 64, the most common types of disability were pain (12.7%), flexibility (9.8%) and mobility (8.6%). While these three types of disability are also the most commonly reported among seniors, the prevalence was higher with 22.1% reporting pain, 20.5% identifying mobility issues and 19.3% identifying flexibility issues.

A severity score, which was developed for the survey, takes into account the number of disability types, the intensity of difficulties and the frequency of activity limitations. Using this score, persons with disabilities were classified into four severity levels: mild, moderate, severe and very severe. In 2012, 26.0% of persons with disabilities were classified as very severe; 22.5%, severe; 19.8%, moderate; and 31.7%, mild.

The Canadian Survey on Disability was funded by Employment and Social Development Canada.

Additional results from the Canadian Survey on Disability are available in the fact sheet "Canadian Survey on Disability 2012: Data Tables." This fact sheet, together with the data tables "Disability in Canada: Initial Findings from the Canadian Survey on Disability," are now available as part of the publication Canadian Survey on Disability, 2012 (Catalogue number89-654-X). From the Browse by key resource module of our website, choose Publications.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; mediahotline@statcan.gc.ca).

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