The purpose of the survey was to better understand the employment reality of people living with disabilities in Canada, including:

  • Their barriers to employment and challenges they experience working or looking for work
  • What supports and services in the workplace or their community that they find helpful
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their employment and personal lives


417 surveys

*All respondents self-identified as having a disability
47% female
48% male
5% as neither male or female (non-binary, two spirit or another identity)
Sexual Orientation:
18% self-identified as LGBTQ2S+
Racial Identification:
10% Indigenous
20% Visible minority
70% White
The mean age was 36, ranging from 17 to 70.
47% had post-secondary education
53% had high school education
Community Size:

100,000+ (33%)
30,000-99,999 (20%)
1,000-29,999 (21%)
1,000 (4%)
Type of Disability:

51% cognitive or learning disability
46% mental health condition
33% invisible disability
30% physical disability
26% episodic disability
7% hearing disability or hearing loss
7% visual disability or vision loss

Respondents by Province:

23% Ontario
19% Quebec
9% British Columbia
10% Alberta
10% Manitoba
10% Saskatchewan
7% Nova Scotia
2% New Brunswick
5% Newfoundland and Labrador
Map of Canada with Percentage of Respondents by provinces


45% working at the time the survey was completed
32% worked in the past and self-identified as living with a disability
12% worked in the past but did not disclose disability
7% have never worked
Worked an average of 25 hours a week.
58% worked part-time compared to 42% who worked full-time.
67% of respondents’ (current, part or confirmed new) jobs were permanent.
For those whose jobs were not permanent, the main reasons were that they held a:

43% temporary, term or contract job
33% seasonal job
19% casual job
8% student job
Respondents who self-identified as White (71%) were more likely to report permanent jobs compared to those who self-identified as Indigenous (63%) and visible minority (53%).
Respondents most often worked in the following sectors:

19% retail trade
10% accommodation and food services
9% other services
9% construction
8% health care and social assistance
Respondents who were unemployed reported:

53% that they had been in their job for less than a year
63% having had one or more period(s) of unemployment in the last five years
91% that they are looking for work
29% of those currently working reported looking for work


84% stated that their employer is aware of their disability.
45% stated that they require accommodation(s).
79% have asked for accommodations from their employers.
64% of respondents reported that they were able to receive the accommodations they needed.

The most common accommodations required were:

Accommodations required
Accommodations available

51% modified or different job tasks and responsibility

43% modified hours or days or reduced work hours

stat lived accomodations 23
23% human support

14% ability to work from home

15% modified or ergonomic workstation

12% special chair or back support

12% computer with special software or adaptations

8% communication aids

5% specialized transportation

5% technical aids

4% handrails, ramps, widened doorways or hallways

4% adapted or accessible parking

4% adapted washrooms

Responses shared by respondents under “other”: check-ins, clarifications, work planning, time management  

Employment Challenges and Supports

72% of respondents stated that it was either difficult (44%) or very difficult (28%) to advance in their jobs.
62% reported that they face a number of different job-related challenges.
Job-related challenges included:

23% not knowing what services are available outside the workplace
23% inflexibility to accommodate due to nature of job
20% lack of job security/permanency
19% not receiving required workplace accommodations
17% lack of necessary health benefits and sick days

Respondents shared that the following employer supports would be most helpful:

54% regular check-ins/feedback from employer

46% inclusive workplace policies, practices, and training resources

43% discussion about workplace accommodations with employer

39% clarity on who to contact for required supports/resources

36% availability of workplace accommodations

36% opportunities to work with a leader/mentor

26% participation in developing/revising inclusive workplace policies, practices, and training resources

25% opportunities to provide anonymous feedback to employer on inclusive workplace culture

22% connections through employer to external community resources and services

Previous Job Search Challenges and Supports

94% of respondents reported challenges while looking for work.
70% reported that their disability impacts their ability to find work.
Respondents looked for work in a variety of ways:

75% looked at job ads online
54% contacted a service provider
39% contacted a friend, relative or personal network
38% contacted an employer directly
36% placed or answered job adds online
22% contacted a government employment agency

Impacts of the Pandemic

42% of unemployment in the last five years was due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
22% were laid off.
17% had their hours reduced.
8% stopped working due to contracting the virus.
10% reported greater mental health challenges.
7% reported challenges with masks, other PPE, distancing or extra cleaning.

Summary of Key Findings: Lived Experience Survey

To read the full Disability and the Workplace: Challenges, trends, and best practices among SMEs in Canada, SME Survey Technical Report or Focus Group Technical Report please contact