By the Numbers: Canada’s Growing Awareness of Invisible Disabilities

By the Numbers: Canada’s Growing Awareness of Invisible Disabilities

Invisible disabilities are far more common than many people realize. According to the 2017 Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), more than 2 million Canadians are currently living with a mental health-related disability, and even that number does not fully reflect the scope of the issue. Pain-related conditions are the most common cause of disability for adults over the age of 25, and many of those conditions – including fibromyalgia and arthritis – may not be immediately apparent to a casual observer.

Unfortunately, even our best metrics are imperfect. The previous CSD was conducted in 2012, and found that nearly 3.8 million Canadians (13.7 percent) were living with a disability at the time. That number is high, but it pales in comparison to the 6.2 million Canadians (approximately 20 percent) that were recorded only five years later.

While many disabilities can (and do) emerge over time as people get older, that alone does not account for the discrepancy. Rather, the 2017 numbers are indicative of the fact that the survey was more accessible and included more comprehensive questions about invisible disabilities and episodic disabilities like epilepsy, which were not captured in previous iterations of the survey.

It also demonstrates why we need better reporting on invisible disabilities. Disability advocates are constantly working to develop new policy initiatives that will assist Canadians with disabilities. However, doing so is nearly impossible without a clear understanding of the medical landscape, and the issues that people are actually dealing with in their everyday lives.

To that end, programs that focus solely on one type of disability, or one age group, simply won’t be beneficial to those that fall outside that demographic. For example, mental health issues were the fourth most common cause of disability overall, but they were the most common cause of disability for youth between the ages of 15 and 24. Providing an adequate support structure for Canadian youth will be vital as that population ages into the workforce.

Better reporting will also help lessen the stigma that surrounds invisible disabilities. Given the numbers, virtually every Canadian knows someone with a medical condition that in some way limits their ability to engage in everyday activities. Despite their prevalence, mental health issues are still misunderstood, and people with invisible disabilities often experience judgment and discrimination that prevents them from coming forward to ask for the help they deserve.

Sadly, people with severe disabilities are far more likely to be living in poverty and to be unemployed. That shouldn’t be the case. Canada has passed legislation to protect the rights of people with visible and invisible disabilities. A successful long term disability claim from an insurance provider can provide financial security and allow someone to retain their dignity and independence while dealing with a serious medical issue.

At Share Lawyers, we can answer any questions you may have about the process of filing a disability insurance claim. Canada’s understanding of invisible disabilities is constantly evolving, and sometimes it can help to know you’re not alone!

Has your long-term disability claim been denied? Contact Share Lawyers and put our experience to work for you. We have recently settled cases against Great-West Life, Desjardins, Manulife, RBC Insurance, Sun Life, and many more. We offer free consultations and there are no fees unless we win your case. Find out if you have a disability case.