RBC Insurance says Canadian workers with disabilities and chronic health challenges have faced increased barriers to accessing care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The firm found, in a survey of 1,001 working Canadians conducted in April 2021, that as many as 40 per cent of working Canadians experienced a decline in their physical health throughout the pandemic.

“For those living with a disability or pre-existing health condition, the challenges have been even greater,” RBC Insurance states, adding that 63 per cent of those with chronic health issues say their inability to visit a doctor or health care clinic has had a negative impact on their health during the pandemic. This is up from the 47 per cent of those without a chronic health issue who said the same.

“As businesses work with insurers to make their group benefit decisions, it’s important that employers consider the broad spectrum of healthcare needs to close these gaps and ensure support for all employees,” they write, adding that 40 per cent of workers with a disability or chronic health issues also said they experienced challenges accessing their employer’s group benefits because of their specific needs. “Ensure these programs are both accessible and inclusive to employees no matter their abilities,” they conclude. “Encourage inclusive wellness. Employees with disabilities may use alternative methods when participating in digital wellness programs.”