Impact of COVID-19 on Canadians living with long-term conditions and disabilities, American Sign Language - Video transcript
Impact of COVID-19 on Canadians living with long-term conditions and disabilities
Just over one-fifth of the Canadian population has one or more disabilities, however, relatively little is known about their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. As highlighted by a recent release using data from the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), persons with disabilities may be particularly vulnerable during the pandemic.
From June 23 to July 6, 2020, approximately 13,000 Canadians with long-term conditions or disabilities participated in an online questionnaire "Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians: Living with Long-Term Conditions and Disabilities." Today, Statistics Canada is releasing these findings as part of a series of results based on this crowdsourcing initiative. Readers should note that, unlike other surveys conducted by Statistics Canada, crowdsourcing data are not collected under a design using probability-based sampling. Therefore, caution should be exercised when interpreting the findings, and no inferences about the overall Canadian population with long-term conditions and disabilities should be made based on these results. The results are not inclusive of all persons with long-term conditions and disabilities and reflect only the experiences of those who participated in the crowdsourcing.
As a first release, this article provides a general snapshot of the employment and income impacts of COVID-19 on crowdsource participants aged 15 to 64 living with long-term conditions and disabilities.
Today, we also released an article titled, "The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian families of children with disabilities," which provides a snapshot of the experiences of parents who had children with and without disabilities in their household during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected as part of a recent crowdsourcing initiative titled the "Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians: Parenting during the Pandemic: Data Collection Series" and, while not representative of all parents in Canada, provides insights into the experiences of those who participated. Overall, the results indicated that while participants' level of concerns for their families were similar between parents of children who did and did not have disabilities, a higher proportion of parent participants who had a child or children with disabilities were very or extremely concerned about their children's amount of screen time, loneliness or isolation, general mental health, and school year and academic success.
Over one-third of participants with long-term conditions or disabilities report experiencing a temporary or permanent job loss or reduced hours during the pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the Canadian labour market, with over 5.5 million workers affected by either job loss or reduced hours between February and April, according to the April Labour Force Survey (LFS). The most recent release of the LFS shows that the gradual re-opening of the economy has led to a rebound in employment in May and June. The evolution of the COVID-19 shutdown has resulted in a wide range of employment changes and challenges. This impact has also been felt by those with long-term conditions or disabilities who, under normal economic conditions, have lower rates of employment than those without disabilities.
Among participants aged 15 to 64 with a long-term condition or disability, two-thirds (66%) reported being employed prior to the start of the pandemic, while 55% reported they were currently employed. Among those participants who were employed before the start of the pandemic, over one-third (36%) reported experiencing a temporary or permanent job loss or reduced hours since March. Those who reported multiple long-term conditions were more likely to report a temporary or permanent job loss or a reduction in hours since March (41%) compared with those with one long-term condition (31%).
Employment changes are more likely among youth participants and those with lower levels of education
Youth participants with a long-term condition or disability were more likely to report their work situation changed from being employed prior to the shutdown to being currently unemployed or not in the labour force, compared with other age groups. Over half (55%) of those aged 15 to 24 reported being employed prior to the start of the pandemic, compared with 39% reporting current employment. This is in line with findings from the LFS, which indicates youth and students have been disproportionately impacted in employment during COVID-19.
Work situation changes also differed by educational attainment. Among participants with long-term conditions and disabilities aged 25 to 64, those with a high school education or less were more likely to report a change in employment status compared with those with at least some university credentials. Almost half (49%) of those with lower levels of education reported being employed prior to the pandemic, compared with 36% reporting current employment. In contrast, employment among those with higher levels of education fell from 77% to 68%.
The majority of employed participants with long-term conditions or disabilities report working from home
COVID-19 measures have resulted in more people working from home. Previous research estimates that about 39% of jobs in Canada can be done remotely. The majority of currently employed participants with long-term conditions or disabilities aged 15 to 64 reported that they are working from home instead of their usual workplace (58%). About 29% of respondents indicated they were working at their usual workplace outside the home.
Almost half of participants rely exclusively on non-employment income since March
For many Canadians, the large job losses and reduced hours due to COVID-19 meant a decrease in employment income, which might lead to the need for government assistance. A recent Statistics Canada study found that about one-quarter of Canadians could be financially vulnerable during the pandemic in the absence of government transfers. Data from the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) show that persons with disabilities are more likely to live below the poverty line and employed persons with disabilities have lower incomes compared with those without disabilities. Income disruptions as a result of the pandemic could place persons with disabilities in an even more vulnerable position.
Just under one-quarter (24%) of participants aged 15 to 64 with long-term conditions or disabilities reported only receiving employment income since the start of the pandemic. Almost half (45%) said they only received income from non-employment sources during this period. Although not directly comparable, data from the 2017 CSD shows that under regular economic conditions, 37% of persons with disabilities aged 15 to 64 relied solely on employment income and 30% relied exclusively on non-employment income.
Among the non-employment income received since the start of the pandemic, the most commonly reported sources were disability benefits (23%) and COVID-related income supports, such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) (17%).
Almost one-third of participants report their household income decreased since the start of the pandemic
Over half (54%) of the participants with long-term conditions or disabilities aged 15 to 64 reported their overall household income stayed the same during the COVID-19 pandemic and 8% indicated it had increased. However, 31% of participants said their overall household income decreased since the start of the shutdown. Among those who said their household income decreased, over half (56%) reported it was by more than $1,000 per month. Households with children were more likely to report that their household income had decreased (37%), compared with households without children (33%) and those living alone (20%).
Ability to meet food and grocery needs and needs for personal protective equipment are the most commonly reported impacts of the pandemic
Participants in the crowdsource survey were asked about their ability to meet specific types of financial obligations and essential needs in the context of the pandemic. Those with long-term conditions or disabilities most commonly reported a major or moderate impact on meeting their food and grocery needs (44%) and personal protective equipment needs (40%). The proportion reporting a major or moderate impact among the remaining categories was similar (around 20% to 25%).
Over half of participants have difficulty meeting at least one financial obligation or essential need
Overall, 61% of participants aged 15 to 64 with long-term conditions or disabilities reported a major or moderate impact from COVID-19 on at least one of the types of financial obligations or essential needs. Participants with multiple long-term conditions were more likely to report impacts (71%), compared with those with one long-term condition (50%). Participants who were living alone (65%) and households with children (64%) were also more likely to report impacts on financial obligations or essential needs than those in households without children (58%).
Note to readers
Data in this release are from Statistics Canada's Crowdsourcing: Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians. The crowdsourcing questionnaire collects data on the current economic and social situation, as well as on people's physical and mental health, to assess the needs of communities and implement suitable support measures during and after the pandemic. This alternative method of collecting information can be used to supplement data obtained from more traditional sources, particularly due to its relatively low implementation cost and ability to increase the granularity of data in a timely manner. Unlike other surveys conducted by Statistics Canada, crowdsourcing data are not collected under a design using probability-based sampling. Therefore, caution should be exercised when interpreting the findings, and no inferences about the overall Canadian population should be made based on these results.
Further caution should be used when interpreting the results due to the method of collection and the population of interest. The survey was only offered in one mode of collection, participants were asked to complete it via an electronic questionnaire. The overall accessibility of the survey was reduced as it was not available in other formats, such as, ASL or LSQ, Braille or audio versions, and it was not available to those without access to a computer or Internet. Proxy interviews were encouraged, to allow family members or caregivers to respond on behalf of a person with a long-term condition or disability.
To identify those with a long-term condition or disability, participants in this crowdsource were asked if they had difficulties from a list of six different areas and then if they identified as a person with a disability. Included in this analysis were respondents that reported a difficulty and self-identified as a person with a disability, those who reported no specific difficulty but identified as a person with a disability and those who reported a difficulty but did not identify as a person with a disability. This differs from the method used by Statistics Canada on the Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), which administers the Disability Screening Questionnaire (DSQ) to identify persons with a disability and calculate the official rates of disability across Canada.
Among the participants, 21% indicated they had a sensory difficulty, 38% reported a physical difficulty, 25% indicated a cognitive difficulty, 48% reported a mental health-related difficulty and 57% indicated they had some other health problem or condition. Respondents could select more than one difficulty type.
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; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).