A profile of disability in Canada, 2001
The Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) is a national survey designed to collect information on adults and children who have a disability, that is, whose everyday activities are limited because of a condition or health problem. Funded by Human Resources Development Canada and conducted by Statistics Canada, PALS provides essential information on the prevalence of various disabilities, the supports for persons with disabilities, their employment profile, their income and their participation in society. This information will be used by all levels of government, associations, researchers and non-government organizations to support the planning of services needed by persons with activity limitations in order to participate fully in society.
Data on persons with disabilities were last collected in 1991, when the Health and Activity Limitation Survey (HALS) was conducted. A new survey was therefore necessary to meet the need for up-to-date, more detailed information that will better reflect the reality of persons with disabilities. This ten-year gap between the two surveys offered an opportunity to review the approach and develop a new survey strategy. Accordingly, to better identify the PALS target population, major changes were made to the structure of the sample and the filter questions identifying persons with disabilities. As a result, comparisons cannot be made between the 1986 and 1991 HALS surveys, and the 2001 PALS. On the other hand, these filter questions may now serve as the standard for identifying persons with disabilities in other Statistics Canada surveys, so that for the first time, it will be possible to compare information on persons with disabilities from one survey to another. For more information on the new survey approach, see How persons with disabilities were identified.
This article is the first in a series of PALS data releases. It contains survey results on the prevalence, type and severity of disability by age and sex.
This release is based on the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS). PALS is a post-censal survey which collected information about persons with disabilities whose everyday activities are limited because of a health-related condition or problem. The survey took place between September 2001 to January 2002. PALS is funded by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC).
PALS is a post-censal survey because it used the 2001 Census as a sampling frame to identify its population. The 2001 Census questionnaire included two general questions on activity limitations. The PALS respondents were selected through the use of the census information on age, geography and the responses to these two general questions.
After the 2001 Census, a sample of individuals who answered YES to the activity limitation questions on the census form was selected. The PALS sample was 43,000, consisting of approximately 35,000 adults and 8,000 children. The interviews were conducted by telephone with the interviewers completing a paper and pencil questionnaire. Two questionnaires were used, one for adults aged 15 and over and one for children under 15. The interviews for the children’s questionnaire were conducted with the parent or guardian of the child. The overall response rate was 82.5%.
The population covered by the survey was persons residing in private and some collective households in the ten provinces. Persons living in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, persons living in institutions and on First Nations reserves were excluded from the survey.
PALS followed the groundwork laid by the Health and Activity Limitation Survey (HALS), which was conducted by Statistics Canada about persons with disabilities in 1986 and 1991. However, the data from the HALS and PALS cannot be compared because of significant differences in their sampling plans, the operational definition of their target population and the content of their questionnaires. For more information about the differences between HALS and PALS, please see the report, “A new approach to disability data: changes between the 1991 Health and Activity Limitation Survey (HALS) and the 2001 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS)”, published in December 2002.
Use the links in the sidebar or below to access the first in a series of PALS data releases.
Prevalence of disability in Canada
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