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December 20, 2013


Statistics Canada just published the results of the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, the descendant of the Participation and Activity Limitation Surveys of 2001 and 2006.

You will be forgiven if you think it's just a catalogue of Canada's aches and pains.  It is a dreary report, containing the rather alarming conclusion that "An estimated 3.8 million adult Canadians reported being limited in their daily activities due to a disability in 2012. This represents 13.7% of the adult population."

That isn't strictly true.  3.8 million Canadians did in fact report being limited in their daily activities, but Statistics Canada attributes the cause to 'disability' rather than 'my bad back' or 'those damned bifocals'.  Doubtless there is a trove of useful information hidden in the heaps of data accumulated by the 350 question survey, (if you finish the survey,  you don't have ADHD), but it isn't contained in the trivial assemblage of the Statistics Canada report.

The survey has sections on transportation, employment discrimination, workplace accommodation, education, independence and technology which could document the situation of people with disabilities and suggest ways forward.  Instead we get an uncritical and unimaginative inventory of symptoms.

From this report, followers of evidence-based practice will instantly move to Quebec.

The blue bars above are percent of population, and the red line represents the excess or shortfall based on the national average.    So Quebec has around 266,568 fewer adults with "disabilities" than you would expect if it was the same as all of Canada.  Ontario has 179,484 more.  Nova Scotia has 38,769 more.  

Over half of the limitations are mild or moderate.

This paragraph from the report is misleading:

Prevalence rises with age

The prevalence of disability increases steadily with age: 2.3 million working-age Canadians (15 to 64), or 10.1%, reported having a disability in 2012, compared to 33.2% of Canadian seniors—those aged 65 or older. Within the working-age population, those reporting a disability was 4.4% for people aged 15 to 24, 6.5% for those 25 to 44 and 16.1% for those 45 to 64. This proportion reaches 26.3% for those aged 65 to 74 and 42.5% among those 75 and older.
As this chart shows, while the proportion of "disability" rises with age, the largest number is contained in the 45-64 age group:

More to come.

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