Macro/Market Study

Statistics Canada Releases 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability Results


Changes to Disability Demographics[1]

Disability “Rates” are Increasing

On December 1, 2023, Statistics Canada released its first findings from the 2022 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD).[2] A key headline from this release is that the frequency of disability in those aged 15+ in Canada increased from the 2017 survey, from 22% in 2017, to 27% in 2022. In absolute terms, there are now approximately 1.8 million more people with a disability in Canada than in 2017. Critically, this increase is not due only to the aging of the population. Rather, the largest jump in disability is in mental health disabilities, specifically in youth and working-age adults. For youth, the disability rate increase by 7 percentage points, to 20% of the 15-24 year old population. For working age adults, those aged 25-64 years, the disability rate increased from 20% to 24%. For seniors, the disability rate increased from 38% to 40%.

Employment Gaps are Closing

Employment rates for People with Disabilities (PWD) increased three percentage points from 2017. This is consistent with other Statistics Canada Surveys. There remains an employment gap between PWD and non-PWD that increased with the severity of disability, as captured by Statistics Canada. For mild disability, the gap between PWD men and non-PWD men is approximately 5%. For women this gap is only 1%.[3] For very severe disability, these gaps increase to 58% and 48%, respectively.


For organizations, these demographic findings underscore the need for clear action in the disability market. Three items stand out. First, disability rates are increasing fastest in working age, or soon to be working age, demographics. This means the engagement and investment in employees must be tailored to reflect the demands of top talent, 20+% of whom have a disability. Second, the increases in disability in these key demographics are likely to be less visible, being predominantly tied to mental health. Experience designers and talent managers are unlikely to know which team members have such a disability, especially given the reluctance to disclose mental health or cognitive disabilities. For this reason, designing experiences to delight all employees is paramount for maximizing value.

The most critical implication, with increased demographic size comes increased consumer demand. As disability rates increase, an inevitability due to both raised rates in younger ages and an aging population, the need for companies to design experiences to delight this demographic is essential. “Two-tiered” service tracks intended to meet minimal accessibility thresholds are unlikely to satisfy the demands of a demographically and economically growing market. This is likely to be both the case for younger generations – sophisticated digital consumers – and retiring “baby boomers” who demand full enjoyment of their golden retirement years. Meeting or exceeding these expectations, in the context of a brands core experience offerings is a potentially massive competitive advantage.

[1] © The Return on Disability Group. All rights reserved. Redistribution is prohibited unless provided in writing by The Return on Disability Group. The information contained herein is not represented or warranted to be accurate, correct, complete or timely. This report is for information purposes only and should not be considered a solicitation to buy or sell any security.

[2] Statistics Canada 2023. Canadian Survey on Disability, 2017 to 2022 available at Last accessed December 1, 2023.

[3] Statistics Canada 2023. Labour market characteristics of persons with and without disabilities in 2022: Results from the Labour Force Survey. Available at: Last accessed Dec 1, 2023