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Prevalence and Types of Disability   Return to Disability Theme page

2. Nice to Know:

Most of our information on disability comes from surveys, since hospital statistics would only include severe and acute conditions that required hospital treatment. To record the prevalence of long-term disabling conditions, Statistics Canada has led many surveys of disability.

Be careful in interpreting figures you see: there is quite wide variation in the various estimates from different surveys. This is partly due to differences in how the questions are phrased. The 2001 "Participation and Activity Limitation Survey" provided the following figures.   

Disability prevalence rising by age

The next figure shows the different types of disability:

Prevalence of differing types of disability in Canada

Among people aged 65 to 74, about 31% report some form of disability. This makes roughly 650,000 Canadians. The commonest form of disability is a mobility limitation; this is often combined with problems in bending, stooping, balance, etc. 65% mention experiencing pain. There seems to be very little difference in prevalence between men and women, and it is reassuring to see that family income is comparable for those with, and without, a disability.

Among seniors aged 75 and over, about 53% report a disability. Again, mobility is the chief problem (80% of all people with a disability), followed by bending, etc (75%) and pain (58%).

Updated August 20, 2014