2001 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey: Issue 1 — Profile of the Housing Conditions of Canadians Aged 15 Years and Older with a Mobility and/or an Agility Disability

Introduction

This Research Highlight is the second produced through a CMHC research project that examined the housing conditions and characteristics of Canadians with disabilities.

This Highlight begins with some general characteristics of the population with disabilities who are aged 15 years and older, and continues with a detailed profile of those who report having a mobility and/or an agility disability. Data used in this Highlight are from the 2001 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (2001 PALS). PALS is Canada’s principal national survey focusing on people with disabilities. It provides information on the prevalence and severity of certain types of disability, on the use of and unmet need for supports, and on participation in various activities.

Definitions

Population with Disabilities Examined in this Highlight

This Highlight examines the population 15 years of age and older only. The data presented here and in subsequent Highlights will differ from the first issue in this series which was based on the 2001 Census because of some key differences between the 2001 Census and 2001 PALS with respect to identifying people with disabilities. The 2001 PALS identifies an estimated 945,000 fewer people aged 15 years and older with a disability than did the 2001 Census. This is because some individuals who responded “Yes” to the Census disability questions responded “No” to the more detailed questions on the 2001 PALS related to specific types of disabilities. It is also due to differences in the geographic coverage — the 2001 Census includes the people living in the territories and in First Nations communities but these areas and their populations are excluded from the 2001 PALS.

Disability in the 2001 PALS

The 2001 PALS asks about specific domains of functioning in which one may experience ongoing difficulties doing activities and identifies 10 specific types of disabilities (as well as an “ unknown1” category):

  • Mobility
  • Agility
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Speaking/communicating
  • Developmental
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Emotional/psychological
  • Pain

Mobility and Agility Disability

Of the 2,692,800 people aged 15 and older with a mobility and/or an agility disability, 72% or 1,952,000 report having both disabilities. For the purposes of this analysis, those with a mobility and/or agility disability have been combined into one group referred to as “mobility/agility disability” for this series of Highlights.

In the 2001 PALS, an individual with a mobility disability is someone who has difficulty with at least one of:

  • walking half a kilometre
  • walking up and down a flight of stairs (about 12 steps) without resting
  • moving from one room to another
  • carrying an object of 5 kg (10 lbs) for 10 m (30 ft.)
  • standing for long periods.

In the 2001 PALS, an individual with an agility disability is someone who has difficulty with at least one of:

  • bending
  • dressing or undressing her/himself
  • getting into and out of bed
  • cutting her/his toenails
  • using fingers to grasp/handle objects
  • reaching in any direction (for example, above her/his head)
  • cutting her/his food.

Core Housing Need

Households2 are considered to be in core housing need if they do not live in and do not have sufficient income to access acceptable housing. The term “acceptable housing” refers to housing that is in adequate physical condition, of suitable size and affordable.

  • Adequate dwellings are those reported by their residents as not requiring any major repairs.
  • Suitable dwellings have enough bedrooms for the size and make-up of resident households, according to the National Occupancy Standard (NOS) requirements.3
  • Affordable dwellings cost less than 30% of before-tax household income.4

A household is said to be in core housing need if its housing falls below at least one of the adequacy, suitability or affordability standards and it would have to spend 30% or more of its before-tax income to pay the median rent of alternative local housing.

When discussing core housing need, household data exclude farm, band and reserve households (for which shelter costs are not collected by the census). It also excludes households with shelter costs that equal or exceed their income, or incomes of zero or less.

Findings

General Characteristics of Persons with Disabilities Aged 15 Years and Older

Geography

There are 3,352,300 persons with disabilities who are 15 years and older, resulting in a national disability rate of 15% (see Table 1). There are significant variations among the provinces with Quebec recording the lowest rate at 10%5 and Nova Scotia the highest at 20%.

Table 1 — Numbers of persons aged 15 years and older living in households, by disability status, in Canada and the provinces, 2001
  Persons aged 15 years and older
total population6 without disabilities with disabilities disability rate
NOTE: Includes the population living in private non-farm, non-reserve households with household income greater than zero and the average shelter cost-to-income ratio (STIRs) less than 100%.
Source: 2001 PALS
CANADA 22,608,200 19,255,900 3,352,300 14.8%
Newfoundland and Labrador 405,500 348,000 57,500 14.2%
Prince Edward Island 102,000 84,500 17,500 17.2%
Nova Scotia 714,000 569,700 144,300 20.2%
New Brunswick 575,400 477,900 97,500 16.9%
Quebec 5,631,400 5,071,300 560,100 9.9%
Ontario 8,748,000 7,334,100 1,413,900 16.2%
Manitoba 748,300 614,900 133,400 17.8%
Saskatchewan 595,100 485,000 110,100 18.5%
Alberta 2,078,800 1,758,600 320,200 15.4%
British Columbia 3,009,600 2,511,900 497,700 16.5%

Age and Gender

The rate of disability increases as age increases, and, in all age groups, the disability rate is higher among females than for males. The disability rate varies considerably by age group, from 4% for persons aged 15 to 24 years to 41% for people aged 65 years and older (see Table 2).

The age structure of the population with disabilities is very different from the population without disabilities. Over three quarters of persons aged 15 years and older (77%) who report a disability are over 44 years of age compared to 40% of people 15 years or older without disabilities (see Figure 1). This difference in age structure is important to remember when comparing the social and economic characteristics of these two populations.

Table 2 — Number and per cent of persons aged 15 years and older living in households, by disability status, age group and sex, 2001
  Persons aged 15 years and older
without disabilities with disabilities disability rate
Male Female Both sexes Male Female Both sexes Male Female Both sexes
Source: 2001 PALS
15 and older 9,449,700 9,806,100 19,255,900 1,487,800 1,864,500 3,352,300 13.6% 16.0% 14.8%
15 to 24 1,815,000 1,750,800 3,565,800 73,000 75,000 148,000 3.9% 4.1% 4.0%
25 to 44 3,892,500 4,051,200 7,943,700 283,900 334,400 618,300 6.8% 7.6% 7.2%
45 to 64 2,819,800 2,885,700 5,705,500 541,400 621,300 1,162,700 16.1% 17.7% 16.9%
65 and older 922,400 1,118,500 2,040,900 589,500 833,700 1,423,200 39.0% 42.7% 41.1%

Figure 1 Percentage distribution of persons without and with disabilities aged 15 and older, by age group, 2001

Figure 1 —  Percentage distribution of persons without and with disabilities aged 15 and older, by age group, 2001

The above graph shows the percentage distribution of persons without and with disabilities aged 15 and older, by age group, for 2001.

15 to 24 years old: 18.5% without disabilities and 4.4% with disabilities.

25 to 44 years old: 41.3% without disabilities and 18.4% with disabilities.

45 to 64 years old: 29.6% without disabilities and 34.7% with disabilities.

65 years and older: 10.6% without disabilities and 42.5% with disabilities.

Source: 2001 PALS

Living Arrangements

Persons with disabilities are less likely to be living in a family with children, and more likely to be living alone, than persons without disabilities. A total of 23% of persons with disabilities live in a family household comprised of a couple (married or living common law) with children, compared to 50% of persons without disabilities (see Table 3). The reverse is seen for persons living alone where 23% of persons with disabilities live alone compared to 10% of persons without disabilities.

Table 3 — Number of persons aged 15 years and older living in households, by living arrangements and disability status, 2001
  Persons aged 15 years and older
without disabilities with disabilities
Number % Number %
Source: 2001 PALS
All types of living arrangements 19,255,900 100.0 3,352,300 100.0
Living alone 2,012,500 10.5 779,400 23.3
Non-family person, living with others 1,146,500 6.0 266,400 7.9
Lone-parent family 1,808,300 9.4 349,500 10.4
Couple without children 4,748,700 24.7 1,181,200 35.2
Couple with children 9,539,900 49.5 775,800 23.1

Nature of Disabilities

The 2001 PALS includes three ways to look at disability characteristics: type(s) of disability that an individual reports, number of types of disabilities that an individual reports, and a severity measure that includes the nature and extent of the individual’s disability across all the types of disabilities reported by the individual.

The three most commonly reported disabilities are mobility/agility, pain and hearing. A total of 2,692,800 people or 80% of those reporting a disability report either a mobility and/or an agility disability (see Table 4). Since there is considerable overlap between those who report either of these two disabilities, they have been combined into one group for the purposes of this analysis. Almost seven out of ten persons with a disability (70% or 2,332,300) report a disability due to pain and close to one third (30%) report a hearing disability.

Most persons with disabilities (81%) report multiple disabilities. However, 19% or 636,400 individuals report only one type of disability and 37% or 1,226,500 persons report having two types of disabilities.

The severity of an individual’s disability is assessed in the 2001 PALS based on the frequency and intensity of the limitations. For example, a person who has no difficulty walking and climbing stairs but who cannot stand in line for more than twenty minutes would have a mild mobility-related disability. A person who can move around only via a wheelchair would have a severe mobility-related disability. According to the 2001 PALS, 41% or 1,378,700 persons with disabilities have a severe or very severe disability. For 25% (838,800 individuals), the severity of disability is moderate, and for the remaining one-third (34% or 1,134,800), the severity of the disability is mild.

Table 4 — Number and per cent of persons aged 15 years and older living in households, by type of disability, 2001
  Number %
Source: 2001 PALS
All types of disabilities 3,352,300 100.0
Hearing 1,013,700 30.2
Seeing 586,800 17.5
Speaking/Communicating 356,300 10.6
Mobility/agility7 2,692,800 80.3
Pain 2,332,300 69.6
Learning 442,000 13.2
Memory 414,900 12.4
Developmental 117,000 3.5
Psychological 517,700 15.4
Unknown 94,400 2.8

Persons with a Mobility/Agility Disability Aged 15 and Older

Among persons with disabilities, an estimated 2,692,800 (or 80%) have a mobility/agility disability. While mobility/agility disabilities are the most commonly reported disability, the incidence varies among the ten provinces (see Table 5). Quebec shows the highest rate at 83% while Alberta and British Columbia have the lowest rates at 76% and 75% respectively.

Table 5 — Number of persons aged 15 years and older with disabilities living in households, by type of disability in Canada and the provinces, 2001
  Persons aged 15 years and older % with a mobility/agility disability
with any type of disability with a mobility/agility disability
Source: 2001 PALS
CANADA 3,352,300 2,692,800 80.3
Newfoundland and Labrador 57,500 47,300 82.2
Prince Edward Island 17,500 13,600 78.0
Nova Scotia 144,300 116,400 80.7
New Brunswick 97,500 78,900 80.9
Quebec 560,100 465,700 83.1
Ontario 1,413,900 1,161,500 82.1
Manitoba 133,400 105,800 79.3
Saskatchewan 110,100 85,900 78.0
Alberta 320,200 242,100 75.6
British Columbia 497,700 375,500 75.4

Age and Gender

Persons with a mobility/agility disability are on average slightly older (at 61 years) than those with any type of disability (at 59 years). The average age of women (at 62 and 60 respectively) is slightly higher than men (at 60 and 58 respectively) for both populations.

The percentage of females with disabilities who report a mobility/agility disability is higher than for males (85% compared to 75% respectively) and this is true for all age groups (see Table 6). The percentage of people with a mobility/agility disability increases with age and this is true for both males and females.

Table 6 — Number of persons aged 15 years and older with disabilities living in households, by type of disability, sex and age group, 2001
  Persons aged 15 years and older % with a mobility/agility disability
with any type of disability with a mobility/agility disability
Source: 2001 PALS
Both sexes 15 years and older 3,352,300 2,692,800 80.3
15 to 24 years 148,000 75,400 50.9
25 to 44 years 618,300 431,000 69.7
45 to 64 years 1,162,700 955,600 82.2
65 years and older 1,423,200 1,230,900 86.5
Male 15 years and older 1,487,800 1,111,200 74.7
15 to 24 years 73,000 34,500 47.3
5 to 44 years 283,900 180,700 63.6
45 to 64 years 541,400 419,400 77.5
65 years and older 589,500 476,600 80.8
Female 15 years and older 1,864,500 1,581,500 84.8
15 to 24 years 75,000 40,800 54.4
25 to 44 years 334,400 250,300 74.9
45 to 64 years 621,300 536,200 86.3
65 years and older 833,700 754,300 90.5

Presence of Other Types of Disabilities

People with a mobility/agility disability are very likely to have other types of disabilities, with the majority (77%) reporting a disability related to pain. Hearing and seeing disabilities are reported by 29% and 19% of people with a mobility/agility disability, respectively (see Table 7).

There are some significant differences in the nature of multiple disabilities when analysed by age group, particularly with learning and developmental disabilities. Overall 13% of people with a mobility/agility disability also report having a learning disability; however, among persons aged 15 to 24 years, this proportion is 45%. Similarly, while 3% of people with a mobility/agility disability also report having a developmental disability, the proportion is 23% among people aged 15 to 24 years.

Table 7 — Distribution of persons aged 15 years and older with a mobility/agility disability, by type of other disability, 2001
Type of disability Distribution of persons aged 15 years and older with
a mobility/agility disability by other disability type
(#) (%)
Source: 2001 PALS
Mobility/agility 2,692,800 100.0
Seeing 520,800 19.3
Hearing 774,100 28.7
Speaking/communicating 295,700 11.0
Developmental 88,100 3.3
Learning 342,500 12.7
Psychological 423,000 15.7
Memory 374,900 13.9
Pain 2,063,400 76.6

Severity of Disability

People with a mobility/agility disability are more likely to have a severe or very severe disability than those reporting any type of disability, 49% compared to 41% respectively (see Table 8).

There are significant differences when the data is examined by age group, the most significant being among persons aged 15 to 24 years. In this young age group, 20% or 15,100 persons with a mobility/agility disability have a very severe disability compared to 11% for those with any type of disability.

Table 8 — Number of persons aged 15 years and older with disabilities living in households, by type of disability and severity of disability, 2001
Severity of disability Persons aged 15 years and older
with any type of disability with a mobility/agility disability
(#) (%) (#) (%)
Source: 2001 PALS
Total 3,352,300 100.0 2,692,800 100.0
Mild 1,134,800 33.9 685,100 25.4
Moderate 838,800 25.0 699,100 26.0
Severe 903,500 27.0 844,100 31.3
Very severe 475,100 14.2 464,500 17.2

Housing Characteristics of Persons with a Mobility/Agility Disability who Are Living in a Household in Core Housing Need

At the Canada level, 18% of persons aged 15 years and older with a mobility/agility disability live in a household in core housing need, about twice the incidence of people without disabilities (9%) (see Table 9). The rate varies significantly among the ten provinces, with the lowest incidence in Saskatchewan at 11% and the highest in British Columbia at 22%. In some provinces, people with a mobility/agility disability are more than twice as likely to be living in a household in core housing need than persons without disabilities. The largest relative difference in core need between people with disabilities and people without disabilities occurs in Quebec (16% versus 7%) (see Table 9).

Table 9 — Persons aged 15 years and older living in a household in core housing need, by disability status in Canada and the provinces, 2001
  Persons aged 15 years and older living
in a household in core housing need
Ratio of persons with a mobility/agility
disability to persons without disabilities
with a mobility/agility disability with any type of disability without disabilities
(#) (%) (#) (%) (#) (%)
A B C D E F B/F
Source: 2001 PALS
CANADA 474,700 17.6 563,900 16.8 1,757,000 9.1 1.9
Newfoundland and Labrador 9,500 20.0 10,700 18.5 35,900 10.3 1.9
Prince Edward Island 2,000 14.6 2,500 14.5 6,600 7.8

Canada

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