The $16.8 billion value of Canada's disabled workforce

Conference Board study says companies should invest in accessiblity

The $16.8 billion value of Canada's disabled workforce
Steve Randall

The number of Canadians living with a disability is set to rise as the population ages, but companies have an opportunity to boost the economy by making workplaces accessible.

A report from the Conference Board of Canada says that economic activity could be boosted by $16.8 billion by 2030 as those living with a disability that impairs their mobility, vision, or hearing, rises from 2.9 million to 3.6 million over the next 13 years, nearly double the pace of the population as a whole.

Celebrating our industry successes in the wealth management industry

“Employment rates for Canadians with disabilities are roughly two-thirds those of the general population—and those that are employed tend to work a slightly shorter work week,” said Ruth Wright, Director, HR and Inclusive Talent Management Research, The Conference Board of Canada.

She said that improving access to work for those with disabilities would not only improve their income prospects, it would add a significant number (550,000) to Canada’s pool of available workforce, resulting in the boost to GDP.

“This is positive not only from an inclusion point of view but also provides economic benefits to businesses, individuals, and governments alike,” said Wright.

Of those with disabilities who are currently unemployed or out of the labour force, roughly 57% of respondents to the Conference Board’s survey felt they would be able to return to work if accessibility improvements were made.

Of these, about 38% would be able to work several hours per week, and nearly 19% expected that they could work 11 or more hours per week.