Poverty and Disability in Canada
Millions of Canadians live with disabilities. Around 16% of people 15 and older live with a disability, making up more than 4 million people. A correlation exists between poverty and disability in Canada. While about 10% of people without a disability live in poverty or around 3 million people, the poverty rate among those living with a disability is 14%, or around 600,000 people. Poverty rates also vary greatly among different types of disabilities.

What is a Disability?

The above statistics come from a 2006 study of the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS). The survey describes disability as any type of difficulty regarding hearing, seeing, communicating, walking, leaning over, learning or other physical or mental work. Disabilities hinder productivity at work, at school and at home.

Types of Disabilities and Their Poverty Rates

The connection between disability and poverty in Canada runs deep. Furthermore, a person’s particular type of disability correlates directly to their likelihood of living in poverty. Among people with disabilities in general, the poverty rate is around 14%. For people with limited mobility, the rate is a little over 15%. For people with limited ability to communicate, the rate is 24%. People with hearing disabilities have the lowest poverty rate among disabled people at 10%.

The Majority of Canadians Support the Canadian Disability Benefit

The Canadian Disability Benefit, which the Canadian government created in 2021, set up a $12 million fund to benefit Canadians with disabilities over the course of the next three years by changing and reforming programs and benefits already in place. People recognize the link between disability and poverty in Canada. Nearly 90% of people polled either strongly or moderately support the Canadian Disability Benefit.

Disability Without Poverty Movement

Many programs aim to help eliminate poverty among people with disabilities in Canada. One is the Disability without Poverty movement, which is dedicated to ensuring people with disabilities are included in the design of the Canadian Disability Benefit. COVID-19 has greatly hurt people’s ability to seek help, including those with disabilities trying to acquire proper aid and benefits.

The connection between disability and poverty in Canada is a close one. Current aid programs in the works, like the Canadian Disability Benefit, have the design of helping people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 60% of Canadians are generally in favor of Canadians with disabilities receiving more aid and benefits, with even stronger support for the Canadian Disability Benefit in particular.

Jake Herbetko
Photo: Flickr