Making work spaces and facilities more accessible for people with physical disabilities so they participate more fully in the workforce could lift overall economic activity by $16.8 billion by 2030, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.
“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. Improving the labour market participation of people with physical disabilities could add significantly to Canada’s future pool of workers and to the quality of life of individuals with disabilities,” said Ruth Wright, director of HR and inclusive talent management research at the Conference Board of Canada.
“This is positive not only from an inclusion point of view but also provides economic benefits to businesses, individuals, and governments alike.”
The number of Canadians living with a physical disability that impairs their mobility, vision or hearing will rise from 2.9 million to 3.6 million over the next 13 years — nearly double the pace of the population as a whole, said the Conference Board.
Improvements to workplace access would allow 550,000 Canadians with disabilities to work more, increasing GDP by $16.8 billion by 2030.
The increase in labour availability would lift the income of people with disabilities by more than $13.5 billion, it said.
The Business Case to Build Physically Accessible Environments provides results of a survey of Canadians with physical disabilities to identify barriers for workforce participation and calculates the economic impacts associated with increased labour participation.
Roughly 60 per cent of respondents said their disability prevented them from finding employment that allows them to use their skills, abilities and training. Of those who were employed, almost three-quarters indicated their condition was preventing them from working to the extent they desired.
Of these individuals, more than 65 per cent of survey respondents believed accessibility improvements would allow them to increase the number of hours they work, found the survey.
Of those who are currently unemployed or out of the labour force, roughly 57 per cent felt they would be able to return to work if accessibility improvements were made, found the Conference Board. Of these, about 38 per cent would be able to work several hours per week, and nearly 19 per cent expected that they could work 11 or more hours per week.
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