By Stephanie Lim
People with disabilities are still fighting for their right to equal access in society as written in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. While the government and public are aware of people with disabilities, many still feel as though they are invisible.
Demographically, there are more than 3 million adults 15 and over who suffer from a disability. Statistics Canada reports in Profile of Disability in Canada: An Overview (2001) that:
• 151,030 of people between the ages 15 – 24 have disabilities
• 1,206,660 of people between the ages of 25 – 54 have disabilities
• 610,800 of people between the ages of 55 – 64 have disabilities
• 649,180 of people between the ages of 65 – 74 have disabilities
• 802,670 of people 75 and over have disabilities
The results exclude the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
What does the word disability mean?
Although there are a number of Canadians who suffer from disabilities, the term disability is difficult to define because of its complex characteristics.
Human Resources and Social Development Canada (HRSDC) Defining Disability: A Complex Issue is a report that confirms that “no single definition of disability exists at the federal level.”
Aware of the disable’s fight for full participation in society, HRSDC states in Advancing the Inclusion of People with Disabilities (2006) that supports are needed in areas of transportation, housing, information, assistive devices, adaptive technology, and support for communities.
Supports include technical aids and devices, special equipment, homemaker, attendant or interpreter services, life skills, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, and respite care that respond to individual needs.
Canadian’s thoughts on people with disabilities
With the number of people with disabilities, HRSDC’s 2004 Benchmark Survey, demonstrated that not many Canadians are aware of legislation, policies or programs protecting disabled persons in Canada.
• Canada: 21%
• Atlantic: 20%
• Quebec: 17%
• Ontario: 25%
• Prairies: 22%
• B.C.: 29%
• Territories: 34%
In the same report, Canadians feel that the families of the disabled should be the key people responsible for helping persons with disabilities.
• Families of the disabled: 31%
• Voluntary organizations: 22%
• Disabled persons themselves: 16%
• Governments: 16%
• Religious organizations: 5%
• More than on equally important: 9%
• Don’t know: 2%
Although the report show that the family should be the key helpers of those with disabilities, they feel that the Provincial / territorial government is best able to support the disabled.
• Provincial/territorial governments: 37%
• Federal governments: 34%
• Municipal governments: 14%
• All equally capable: 6%
• Other combination: 4%
• Other/don’t know: 5%