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June 18, 2015

How employing people with disabilities makes money - Part I

Revised July 22, 2015
Thanks to Sandra McFadyen of the Disabled Persons Commission for sleuthing out some more accurate data.

In March, Stats Canada published a profile of Canadians with disabilities, taken from its 2012 survey of the subject.  Since the data is not disaggregated, at all levels, we need to make some assumptions.

StatsCan says there were 628,310 Nova Scotians ages 15-64 in 2012
89,410 are disabled
44,170 are either unemployed or not in the work force

Now we need to make our guesses.

In the 15-64 age group in Nova Scotia, 53% have physical disabilities routinely accommodated in the workplace - seeing, hearing, mobility, dexterity, flexibility.

Leaving 23,410

In the 15-64 age group in Nova Scotia, disabilities are classified as 

MildModerateSevereVery Severe

Just for the sake of argument, let's focus on the 54% with mild or moderate disabilities.
Leaving 12,641 who could be employed.

Is that a realistic number?  It's about 9% of the total group of Nova Scotians with disabilities, age 15-64.  It sure is a big number that ought to be of concern to business leaders.  It seems to incorporate the correct assumptions.*

With accessible transportation, workplace accommodations, flexible hours, flexible support programs and other means, we'd have a shot at employing those 12,641.

Educational attainment of people with disabilities in Canada is:

  • 18.7% less than high school
  • 25% high school diploma
  • 56.3% postsecondary certificate or diploma
Guessing at income levels, let's figure the provincial income tax from employing those 12,641

PercentNumberIncomeProvincial Income TaxTotal
Less than high school18.70%2364$20,000$1,758$4,155,678
high school25.00%3160$35,000$2,567$8,111,714

The total tax revenue is $52,250,681.

Each of those 12,641 is currently receiving supports enabling them to live (the federal/provincial/private breakdown is impossible to parse).  Not fancy, but probably including Pharmacare and other benefits. A per capita expenditure on the order of $15,000 is a reasonable guess.  Let's say that $10,000 is from the province.
That would save  $126,410,000 a year - 40.5% of the $311,735,000 budgeted for the Disability Support Program in the Department of Community Services.  Maybe a bit much, but DCS could name the actual amount.

Making a grand total of $178,660,681.  Going on twice the annual provincial deficit.  Worth the effort.

Now that will certainly take time to realize, but there's clearly money to be made by making the workplace accessible.  Even if the province temporarily used all of the savings and new revenue for incentives, accessibility makes sense for the long term health of Nova Scotia finances.

I'm interested to learn of any corrections or refinements that could be made.  Feel free to email me.

*Quite different from the 55,000 identified in A Blueprint for Action, The Report of the Nova Scotia Persons with Disabilities Employability Table.  It doesn't show all the steps, but I believe this number includes people aged 65 and older.  It also uses 2006 data from Statscan, which has different definitions.

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