Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Canadians with disabilities finding employment

From The Vancouver Province July 27:

More Canadians with disabilities are participating in the workforce despite the continued existence of a number of barriers, a Statistics Canada report said this week.

The Participation and Activity Limitation Survey measures the participation in the economy by people over the age of 15 with disabilities, and what kinds of obstacles stand their way.

Of the 4.5 million Canadians living with a disability, Statistics Canada reports that nearly 2.5 million could potentially work. The survey then found that the proportion of Canadians with disabilities who were actually employed in 2006 was 53.5 per cent, up from 49.3 per cent five years earlier. By comparison, the survey reported that 75.1 per cent of people without disabilities were working in 2006.

The agency said that while the gap between people with and without disabilities has been shrinking, the difference still remains large.

Statistics Canada's survey covers 10 different types of activity limitations, related to hearing, seeing, communication, mobility, agility, pain, learning, memory, and developmental and psychological challenges.

The survey found that the severity of a person's disability plays a role. The employment rate for people with moderate disabilities rose from 54 per cent to 56.6 per cent over the five-year study period, while the rate for people with severe disabilities increased from 31.8 per cent to 38.3 per cent.

Although employment rates increased across all age groups between 15 to 64, jobless people with activity limitations reported that discrimination was one of the main reasons they could not find work. Younger people were also more likely to report instances of perceived discrimination than older people.

People who did manage to find work reported that their disability restricted the amount or what kind of work they could do.

One in five employed Canadians with disabilities said employers had to accommodate their condition by modifying or reducing their work day or work hours.

One in six said that they required specialized work equipment, including chairs, back supports or a job redesign.