Canadians with disabilities & health problems do not get adequate support

Canada needs to improve the support it gives to people with disabilities or health problems in order to help those who can work to find a job, according to a new OECD report.

Paris (4 October2010) – Few programs lift Canadians with disabilities or health problems out of poverty and many seem to work at cross-purposes, says a new report by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers. Canada: Opportunities for Collaboration analyses Canada’s efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its policies for persons affected by sickness and disability.

Further reforms are needed, the report says. Co-ordination between federal and provincial governments should be improved. Many of the job and other social supports and benefits are restrictive and complex. These should be streamlined and made easier for people to understand so they can get the support to which they are entitled.

In Canada, the employment rate of persons with health problems or disabilities is about 60% of the rate of the general population, and unemployment, at over 16%, is twice as high. This was before the recent economic downturn which has further increased the overall rate of unemployment by nearly 50%. Canada has fewer persons with disabilities on disability benefit than most OECD countries, but on the down side, the risk of relative income poverty is very high, affecting one-third of this group of the population.

The report urges the federal and provincial governments to remain committed to a path of reform despite the economic downturn and the recent fall in labour demand .

Among the recommendations in the report are:

1. To move towards a client-oriented framework:

  • Promote one-stop-shop service delivery via Service Canada or provincial counterparts;
  • Implement systematic case management with mutual responsibilities.

2. To promote early intervention and access to supports:

  • Strengthen early identification of problems in federal insurance programs;
  • Make sure that provincial employment support reaches people earlier.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

More information:

Sickness, Disability and Work: Breaking the Barriers. Canada: Opportunities for Collaboration

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