2001 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey: Issue 9 — Profile of the Housing Conditions of Canadian Children with Disabilities

Introduction

This Research Highlight is one in a series of Research Highlights that examine the housing conditions and characteristics of Canadians with disabilities. It focuses on children (under 15 years old) with disabilities. Data used in this highlight are from the 2001 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (2001 PALS). The PALS is Canada’s principal national survey focusing on persons with disabilities. For children, it provides information on the prevalence and severity of disability; on the use of, and unmet need for, supports; and on the impact of disability on the child’s family and on the child’s participation in various everyday activities.

Definitions

Population with Disabilities Examined in this Highlight

This highlight examines the population of children under 15 years. The data presented here will differ from the first issue in this series 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 96,000 fewer children under 15 years with a disability than the 2001 Census of Population. This is because some children, who were identified on the Census as having a disability, were identified as not having a disability in the responses 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 territories and people living 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 a child may experience ongoing difficulties doing activities that are relevant for the child’s age. Disabilities are identified differently for very young children (under 5 years) and for children aged five to 14 years.

For children under five years, disability is identified:

  • through the presence of one or more chronic conditions such as asthma, cerebral palsy or complex medical needs that limit the kind or amount of activity in which the child can participate;
  • as difficulty hearing;
  • as difficulty seeing;
  • through a developmental delay; and/or
  • through a general limitation in their ability to participate in activity normal for a child his/her age.

For children aged from five to 14 years inclusive, disability is identified:

  • through the presence of one or more chronic conditions that limit the kind or amount of activity in which the child can participate;
  • as difficulty hearing;
  • as difficulty seeing;
  • as a learning disability;
  • as a speaking/communicating disability;
  • as a mobility disability;
  • as an emotional/psychological disability;
  • as a developmental disability or disorder;
  • as an agility disability; and/or
  • through a general limitation in their ability to participate in activity normal for a child his/her age.

Core Housing Need

Households1 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.2
  • Affordable dwellings cost less than 30% of before-tax household income.3

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.

Not all households are included in the calculation of core housing need. Farm, band and reserve households are excluded because shelter costs for these households are not collected by the Census. Also, housing conditions cannot be assessed for households that report shelter costs that exceed their income or households that have incomes of zero or less.4 Since CMHC regards the housing conditions for these households as not interpretable, they are excluded from the assessment of housing conditions.

Findings

General Characteristics of Children with Disabilities Under 15 Years Old

Geography

There are an estimated 175,900 children under the age of 15 with disabilities in Canada resulting in a national disability rate of 3%. There is some variation among the provinces, with Quebec recording the lowest rate at 2% and Alb erta the highest at 4% (see Table 1).

Table 1 Number of children under 15 years old in Canada and the provinces, 2001
  With disabilities Without disabilities Disability rate
CANADA 175,900 5,176,300 3.3%
Newfoundland and Labrador 2,800 81,800 3.3%
Prince Edward Island 900 25,000 3.5%
Nova Scotia 6,100 154,600 3.8%
New Brunswick 4,300 122,900 3.4%
Quebec 26,800 1,227,400 2.1%
Ontario 75,700 2,090,600 3.5%
Manitoba 7,400 174,000 4.1%
Saskatchewan 5,300 141,700 3.6%
Alberta 22,000 507,900 4.2%
British Columbia 24,700 650,400 3.7%
Source: 2001 PALS

Age and Gender

The rate of disability increases with age and is higher among boys than girls (see Table 2).

Table 2 Number of children under 15 years old, by disability status, age group and sex, 2001
  With disabilities Without disabilities Disability rate
Boys Girls Both sexes Boys Girls Both sexes Boys Girls Both sexes
Birth to 14 years 110,800 65,100 175,900 2,632,500 2,543,800 5,176,300 4.0% 2.5% 3.3%
0 - 4 15,800 10,000 25,800 796,200 760,400 1,556,600 1.9% 1.3% 1.6%
5 - 9 43,800 24,600 68,400 905,200 876,800 1,782,100 4.6% 2.7% 3.7%
10-14 51,200 30,500 81,700 931,100 906,600 1,837,600 5.2% 3.3% 4.3%
Source: 2001 PALS

Nature of Disabilities

The 2001 PALS includes number and types of disabilities that the child has, and a severity measure that includes the nature and extent of the child’s disability across all the types of disabilities reported for the child.

Children under five years old

Among children under 5 years old with a disability, developmental delay is identified for 68%, and 62% have at least one chronic condition5 (see Table 3).

Table 3 Number of children under 5 years old, by type of disability, 2001
Type of disability (Number) (%)
All types of disabilities* 25,800 100.0%
Chronic condition(s) 16,100 62.4%
Hearing 3,100 12.0%
Seeing 2,000 7.8%
Developmental delay 17,500 67.8%
General limitation 24,200 93.8%
* A child can report more than one chronic condition; therefore, the percentages may add up to more than 100.

Of the 16,100 children under five with chronic conditions, almost half (46%) have asthma or severe allergies that limit the kind or amount of activity that the child can undertake (see Table 4).

Table 4 Number of children under 5 years old, by type of chronic condition, 2001
Type of chronic condition (Number) (%)
Total* 16,100 100.0%
Asthma or severe allergies 7,400 46.0%
Heart condition or disease 1,400 8.7%
Diabetes 1,500 9.3%
Autism 2,200 13.7%
Cerebral Palsy 2,900 18.0%
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 2,000 12.4%
Down Syndrome 1,400 8.7%
Complex medical care needs 3,100 19.3%
Any other long-term condition that has been diagnosed by a health professional 7,000 43.5%
* A child can report more than one chronic condition; therefore, the percentages may add up to more than 100.

Children five to 14 years old

Chronic condition(s) and learning disabilities are each reported for 65% of children aged 5 to 14 years old (see Table 5).

Table 5 Number of children aged 5 to 14 years old, by type of disability, 2001
Type of disability (Number) (%)
All types of disabilities* 150,000 100.0%
Chronic condition(s) 97,900 65.3%
Hearing 20,300 13.5%
Seeing 14,200 9.5%
Learning 97,700 65.1%
Speaking/communicating 64,400 42.9%
Mobility 20,100 13.4%
Emotional/psychological 48,000 32.0%
Developmental disability or disorder 45,100 30.1%
Agility 30,300 20.2%
General limitation 139,300 92.9%
* A child can report more than one chronic condition; therefore,
the percentages may add up to more than 100.

Of the 97,900 children aged 5 to 14 with a chronic condition, 48% have asthma or severe allergies and 45% have ADD/ADHD (see Table 6).

Table 6 Number of children age 5 to 14 years old, by type of chronic condition, 2001
Type of chronic condition (Number) (%)
Total* 97,900 100.0%
Asthma or severe allergies 47,000 48.0%
Heart condition or disease 7,700 7.9%
Kidney condition or disease 3,000 3.1%
Cancer 1,400 1.4%
Diabetes 2,800 2.9%
Epilepsy 6,200 6.3%
Autism 12,500 12.8%
Cerebral Palsy 6,800 6.9%
Spina Bifida 1,800 1.8%
Cystic Fibrosis 1,200 1.2%
Muscular Dystrophy 1,200 1.2%
Migraines 9,400 9.6%
Arthritis or rheumatism 2,900 3.0%
Paralysis of any kind 3,700 3.8%
Missing or malformed arms, legs, fingers or toes 4,300 4.4%
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome 4,000 4.1%
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) 43,700 44.6%
Down Syndrome 3,600 3.7%
Complex medical care needs 8,900 9.1%
Any other long-term condition that has been diagnosed by a health professional 39,000 39.8%
* A child can report more than one chronic condition; therefore, the percentages may add up to more than 100.
Source: 2001 PALS

Severity of disability

Different severity of disability scales were constructed for children under age 5 and children aged 5 to 14. Children under age 5 with disabilities are described as having a mild to moderate disability or a severe to very severe disability. More than half (57%) have a mild to moderate disability (see Table 7). The severity scale for children aged 5 to 14 is divided into four groups: mild, moderate, severe, and very severe. Again, more than half (57%) have a mild to moderate disability (see Table 7).

Table 7 Number of children under 15 years old, by age group and severity of disability, 2001
Severity of disablity From birth to 4 years 5 to 14 years
(#) (%) (#) (%)
Total 25,800 100.0% 150,000 100.0%
Mild to moderate 14,800 57.4% 86,000 57.3%
Mild na na 48,100 32.1%
Moderate na na 37,900 25.3%
Severe to very severe 11,000 42.6% 64,100 42.7%
Severe na na 38,400 25.6%
Very severe na na 25,600 17.1%
Source: 2001 PALS

Housing characteristics of children under 15 years old who are living in a household in core housing need

About 19% of children under 15 years old with disabilities live in a household in core housing need, compared to about 14% of children without disabilities (see Table 8). The highest incidence (25%) of children with disabilities living in a household in core housing need is in Newfoundland and Labrador and the lowest is in New Brunswick at 14%. In all provinces, children with disabilities are more likely to be living in a household in core housing need than children without disabilities.

Table 8 Children under 15 years old living in a household in core housing need, by disability status, in Canada and the provinces, 2001
  with disabilities without disabilities
(#) (%) (#) (%)
Canada 33,800 19.2% 713,800 13.8%
Newfoundland and Labrador 700 25.0% 11,000 13.4%
Prince Edward Island * * 2,000 8.0%
Nova Scotia 1,500 24.6% 22,200 14.4%
New Brunswick 600 14.0% 10,800 8.8%
Quebec 4,400 16.4% 144,400 11.8%
Ontario 15,100 19.9% 320,400 15.3%
Manitoba 1,500 20.3% 25,100 14.4%
Saskatchewan 1,200 22.6% 18,200 12.8%
Alberta 3,300 15.0% 54,600 10.8%
British Columbia 5,300 21.5% 105,100 16.2%
* Number suppressed because of sample size.
Source: 2001 PALS

Urban/Rural

The incidence of children under 15 years old with disabilities living in a household in core housing need is higher in urban areas (at about 20%) than in rural areas (at about 15%) (see Table 9).

Table 9 Children under 15 years old living in a household in core housing need, by disability status, Canada and the provinces, 2001
  with disabilities without disabilities
(#) (%) (#) (%)
Total 33,800 19.2% 713,800 13.8%
Rural 4,800 14.6% 89,400 9.1%
Urban 29,000 20.3% 624,400 14.9%
Source: 2001 PALS

Tenure

About 39% of children under 15 years old with disabilities who live in rental accommodations are living in a household in core need, compared to about 8% of those with disabilities who live in a dwelling owned by a member of the family (see Table 10). A similar comparison is noted among children without disabilities (34% compared to 6%).

Table 10 Children under 15 years old living in a household in core housing need, by disability status and tenure, 2001
  with disabilities without disabilities
  (#) (%) (#) (%)
Total 33,800 19.2% 713,800 13.8%
Rural 8,800 7.8% 227,500 6.1%
Urban 25,000 39.3% 486,300 34.1%
Source: 2001 PALS

Special Features for Access and Egress and Special Features within the Home

Less than 5% of children aged from 5 to 14 years6 use and/ or need specialized features to access or egress their home; and 9% use and/or need special features inside their residence, including those who use/need grab bars or a lift device in the bathroom.

Demographic and Socio-economic Characteristics of Children under 15 years old and Living in a Household in Core Housing Need

Age and Gender

Regardless of age, children with disabilities are more likely to be living in a household in core housing need than children without disabilities. The incidence of core housing need for those children with disabilities aged 5 to 9 years is 21% compared to 14% for those without disabilities (see Table 11).

Table 11 Children under 15 years old living in a household in core housing need, by disability status, sex and age group, 2001
Sex Age group with disabilities without disabilities
(#) (%) (#) (%)
Both sexes Birth to 14 years 33,800 19.2% 713,800 13.8%
  0 - 4 4,800 18.6% 231,600 14.9%
  5 - 9 14,500 21.2% 246,900 13.9%
  10 -14 14,500 17.7% 235,300 12.8%
Boys Birth to 14 years 20,900 18.9% 361,900 13.7%
  0 - 4 2,900 18.4% 115,800 14.5%
  5 - 9 8,600 19.6% 127,100 14.0%
  10 -14 9,400 18.4% 119,000 12.8%
Girls Birth to 14 years 12,900 19.8% 351,900 13.8%
  0 - 4 1,900 19.0% 115,800 15.2%
  5 - 9 5,900 24.0% 119,800 13.7%
  10 -14 5,100 16.7% 116,300 12.8%
Source: 2001 PALS

Younger girls (those under 10 years old) with disabilities are more likely to be living in core housing need than boys with disabilities. But for children aged from 10 to 14 years old boys with disabilities have a higher incidence of core housing need than girls – 18% versus 17%, respectively.

Living Arrangements

About 62% of children with disabilities who are living in a household in core housing need live in a family that is headed by a lone parent, compared to 49% of children without disabilities (see Table 12).

Table 12 Persons aged 65 years and older living in a household in core housing need, by disability status and living arrangements, 2001
  with disabilities without disabilities
(#) (%) (#) (%)
All types of living arrangements 33,800 100.0% 713,800 100.0%
Child living with a married couple 9,500 28.1% 289,000 40.5%
Child living with common-law couple 2,100 6.2% 70,200 9.8%
Child in lone parent family (male parent) 1,500 4.4% 28,700 4.0%
Child in lone parent family (female parent) 19,500 57.7% 318,600 44.6%
Child living as a noncensus family person 1,000 3.0% 7,300 1.0%
Living arrangement of child unknown 200 0.6% 100 0.0%
Source: 2001 PALS

Immigrant Status

Among children with disabilities living in a household in core housing need, 6% are immigrants, compared to 12% of children without disabilities (see Table 13).

Table 13 Children under 15 years old living in a household in core housing need, by disability status, immigrant status and age group, 2001
  with disabilities without disabilities
  (#) (%) (#) (%)
Total 33,800 100.0% 713,800 100.0%
Non-immigrants 31,800 94.1% 631,700 88.5%
Immigrants 2,000 5.9% 82,100 11.5%
Source: 2001 PALS

Household Income

Regardless of disability status, the majority of children who are living in core housing need live in households in the lowest income quintile. However, a higher proportion of children with disabilities living in a household in care housing need are in the lowest quintile — 84% compared to 77% of children without disabilities (see Table 14).

For the purpose of this analysis, the pre-tax household
income of Canadian households with at least one person
under 15 years old were assessed and divided into five
equally sized income groups or quintiles ranging from
lowest income to high income.
High Income: $93,102 or more
Upper Income: $67,061 – 93,101
Middle Income: $48,414 - $67,060
Moderate Income: $30,257 - $48,413
Lowest Income: Less than $30,257
Table 14 Children under 15 years old living in a household in core housing need, by disability status and household income quintile, 2001
  with disabilities without disabilities
  (#) (%) (#) (%)
Total 33,800 100.0% 713,800 100.0%
High, Upper, Middle ($48,414 or more) * * 10,900 1.5%
Moderate ($30,257-$48,413) 5,000 14.8% 152,000 21.3%
Lowest (less than $30,257) 28,400 84.0% 550,900 77.2%
Source: 2001 PALS

Impact on Parent’s Ability to Work Outside the Home

Parents or guardians of about 25% of children who are living in a household in core housing need indicate that money was an issue because of their child’s disability. Having a child with a disability impacts on the parents’ or another adult family member’s decision to work outside the home. The child’s disability(ies) often (59% of the respondents) impacted on work-related decisions for at least one family member. Among these 19,900 children with disabilities who are living in a household in core housing need, parents reported that in the case of:

  • 61% of the children, at least one parent or family member had not taken a job in order to care for the child;
  • 42% of the children, at least one parent or family member had quit working (other than normal parental leave);
  • 54% of the children, at least one parent or family member had changed work hours to a different time of day (or night);
  • 30% of the children, at least one parent or family member had turned down a promotion or a better job;
  • 56% of the children, at least one parent or family member had worked fewer hours; and
  • 71% of the children, it was the mother who made adjustments to her working situation.

Summary of Findings

Children with Disabilities under 15 Years of Age

General Characteristics

  • 3% of Canadian children under 15 years old have some level of disability, with the lowest rate in Quebec (2%) and the highest in Alberta (4%).
  • Boys are more likely to have a disability than girls (4% versus 3%, respectively).
  • The most commonly reported disabilities for children under five are developmental delay (68%) and chronic conditions (62%)
  • The two most commonly reported disabilities for children age 5-14 are learning disability and chronic condition, both at 65%
  • Of those children with disabilities who report a chronic condition, asthma or severe allergies that limit the kind or amount of activity that the child can do is reported for 46% of children under five years of age and for 48% of children aged five to 14 years.
  • The majority (57%) of children with disabilities have a mild to moderate disability.

Children with Disabilities under 15 Years of Age who are Living in a Household in Core Housing Need

Housing Characteristics

  • 19% of children under 15 years old with disabilities live in a household in core housing need, compared to 14% of children without disabilities. The highest incidence (25%) is reported in Newfoundland and Labrador and the lowest (14%) is reported in New Brunswick.
  • 20% of children with disabilities who live in urban areas live in a household in core housing need compared to 15% of those living in rural areas. These incidences are higher than the 15% and 9%, respectively, for urban and rural children without disabilities.
  • 39% of children with disabilities who live in rental accommodations live in a household in core housing need compared to 8% of children who live in a dwelling owned by a family member.

Demographic and Socio-Economic Characteristics

  • Regardless of age, children with disabilities are more likely to live in a household in core housing need than children without disabilities.
  • 62% of children with disabilities who are living in a household in core housing need live in a family headed by a lone-parent.
  • 84% of children with disabilities living in a household in core housing need come from a household in the lowest income quintile (less than $30,257 in 2000).
  • For 59% of children with disabilities who are living in a household in core housing need, parents report that there was an impact on their or another family member’s decision to work outside the home which tended to reduce family income.

Acknowledgements

CMHC provides funding for housing content on the Census of Canada and on Statistics Canada surveys. Statistics Canada information is used with the permission of Statistics Canada. Users are forbidden to copy and redisseminate data for commercial purposes, either in an original or modified form, without the express permission of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and, where applicable, Statistics Canada. More information on Statistics Canada data can be obtained from its Regional Offices, at http://www.statcan.gc.ca, or at 1-800-263-1136.

CMHC Project Manager: Jeremiah Prentice

Housing Research at CMHC Under Part IX of the National Housing Act, the Government of Canada provides funds to CMHC to conduct research into the social, economic and technical aspects of housing and related fields, and to undertake the publishing and distribution of the results of this research. This fact sheet is one of a series intended to inform you of the nature and scope of CMHC’s research.

1 Refers to all private households. People living in collective dwellings (see Statistics Canada, 2001 Census Dictionary, Cat. No. 92-378-XIE, pages 190- 193) are excluded by definition.

2 According to the NOS, enough bedrooms means one bedroom for each cohabitation adult couple; unattached household member 18 years of age and over; same-sex pair of children under age 18; and additional boy or girl in the family, unless there are two opposite sex siblings under 5 years of age, in which case they are expected to share a bedroom. A household of one individual can occupy a bachelor unit (i.e. a unit with no bedroom).

3 Shelter costs include the following:

  • For renters, rent and payments for electricity, fuel, water and other municipal services; and
  • For owners, mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes, and any condominium fees, along with payments for electricity, fuel, water and other municipal services. Costs associated with maintenance and repairs are not considered part of shelter costs.

4 Shelter costs are not collected by the Census for farm households since carrying costs for farm residences are not always separable from expenses related to other farm structures; nor for reserve households whose housing costs are paid through band housing arrangements. Of the 30,007,094 million people identified in the 2001 Census, 27,696,215 million lived in non-farm, non-reserve households with interpretable shelter cost-to-income ratios (STIRs). Income data collected by the 2001 Census refer to the calendar year preceding the Census, while shelter cost data give expenses for the current year. STIRs are computed directly from these data by comparing the current shelter cost to income from the previous year.

5 See Table 4 for list of chronic conditions.

6 These questions were not asked of parents/guardians who had a child with a disability who was under five years.

Canada

Share...


Print(opens in a new window)