Disability statistics

Definition of Disability:

Disability is a broad term that describes a physical, mental, sensory or cognitive condition that may limit full participation in life due to environmental or social barriers

Disability around the World:

Around 15 per cent of the world’s population, or more than 1 billion people, live with a disability.1 They are the world’s largest minority 2, and the only minority group any of us can become a member of at any time.

Worldwide, 40% of people have a person with a disability in their immediate circle of friends and family. 3

In the USA, 56.7 million4 people live with disabilities, and in Europe, 60 million5.

Disability in Canada

In 2006 14.3% of Canadians had a disability6. That is one in seven Canadians.

Disability and Employment in Canada

In 2006, the unemployment rate for all people with disabilities aged 15 to 64 was 10.4%. This is higher than the non-disabled population at 6.8%.7

Disability and Education in Canada

Educational achievement differs between persons with a disability and without a disability:8

Percentage of population with high school diploma:
  • No Disability: Men = 88%, Women = 90%
  • With a Disability: Men = 79%, Women = 81%
Percentage of population with a university degree:
  • No Disability: Men = 23%, Women = 23%
  • With a Disability: Men = 14%, Women = 14%


Disability and Sport in Canada

In 2001, only 3% of Canadians with a disability were involved in organized sport.9




1. http://www.un.org/disabilities/documents/egm2014/EGM_FINAL_08102014.pdf
2. As above
3. UN, as cited by Canadian Centre on Disability Studies (CCDS) in New Ways of Looking at Disability Across the Curriculum, 2012.
4. http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p70-131.pdf
5. European Disability Strategy 2010-2020

6. http://www.statcan.gc.ca
7. Statistics Canada (2008-07-24). Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) of 2006: Labour Force Experience of People with Disabilities in Canada.
8. Galarneau, D. & Radulescu, M. (May 2009).“Employment among the disabled.” Perspectives. Stats Canada.
9. Canadian Paralympic Committee, source: 2001 Statistics Canada Participation and Activity Limitation Survey