Statistics Canada has published its most recent survey on disability in Canada, the Canadian Survey on Disability, 2017 to 2022. In it they say the rate of disability in Canada has increased by five percentage points since 2017.

The survey shows that 27 per cent of Canadians over age 15, roughly eight million people, had one or more disabilities limiting them in their daily activities. This is up from 6.2-million who reported the same in 2017. They say the increase is partially attributed to aging and to the large increase in mental-health related disabilities among youth and working-age adults. They add that in 2022, the rate of disability was higher among women than men, with 30 per cent of the female population being disabled at the end of 2022, compared to just 24 per cent of men who said the same.

Broken down, 20 per cent of youth between age 15 and 24 had a disability, 24 per cent of working age adults had a disability and the disability rate for seniors was 40 per cent. Among those with a disability, the most common reported was pain-related (62 per cent reported this type of disability), followed by flexibility-related disabilities reported by 40 per cent, mobility disabilities reported by 39 per cent and mental health-related disabilities being reported by 39 per cent of the population with a disability. “The largest increase belonged to mental health-related disabilities, which increased by six percentage points from 33 per cent in 2017,” they write.

Disabilities in the report are also further broken down by age groups. Severity is discussed, the report examines pandemic-related financial challenges faced by those with disabilities and it notes that persons with disabilities are more likely to be employed than in the past. The report also examines the barriers disabled persons face when accessing indoor and outdoor public spaces. 

Co-occurring disabilities are also discussed: The report says in 2022, 29 per cent of Canadians with a disability had one disability type, 37 per cent had two or three and 34 per cent had four or more – similar to 2017 rates. “As individuals age, they are more likely to experience a higher number of co-occurring disabilities,” they write. While 42 per cent of seniors fell into the category of having four or more co-occurring disabilities, youth and working age adults were most likely to have two or three disability types.