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February 2006
Vol. 7, no. 2

Perspectives on Labour and Income

Disability in the workplace
Cara Williams

  • In 2001, almost two million Canadians between the ages of 15 and 64 reported having a disability. About 45% of these individuals were in the labour force.
  • Labour force participation decreases as the degree of disability increases. For example, the participation rate for those with only a mild disability was 63%, but it fell to just 28% for those with a severe or very severe disability.
  • Among the working-age population (15 to 64), the overall disability rate was about 10%. While the rate for those 15 to 24 was about 4%, it rose to about 9% for those 25 to 54, and almost 22% for those 55 to 64.
  • The most common accommodations needed in the workplace by those with a disability were modified or reduced work hours (23%) and job redesign (22%). Only a few required structural changes such as workstation modification (7%) or accessible washrooms (4%).
  • Of the 571,000 individuals with disabilities in the potential pool of labour, three-quarters required some type of workplace accommodation in order to permit them to work.

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Cara Williams is with the Labour and Household Surveys Analysis Division. She can be reached at (613) 951-6972 or

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