Persons With Disabilities

Prevalence of Disability

In 2017, approximately 161,460 people aged 15 to 64, or 27.3% of the population in this age group, reported being limited in their daily activities because of a mental or physical disability. Nova Scotia had the highest prevalence of disability of all the ten provinces.

Prevalence of disability increased by age and was higher among females than males.  Among adults aged 45 to 64 years, 32.7% reported having a disability. In contrast, 23.4% of those age 25 to 44 years and 21.1% of individuals age 15 to 24 years reported being limited in their daily activities by a mental or physical disability. Overall, 30.3% of females aged 15 to 64 years reported having a disability compared to 24.2% of males.

Percent of population with Disability by Age Group and Gender, 2017, Nova Scotia

Labour Force Characteristics by Disability

Labour Force Characteristics by Disability Status and Province, 2017

Nova Scotia’s employment rate for people with disabilities (55.4%) is 23.4 percentage points lower than the rate for those without disabilities (78.8%) and is lower than the national rate (59.3%). In comparison to the other provinces Nova Scotia ties with New Brunswick for 8th place, out of ten provinces.

The unemployment rate for people with disabilities in Nova Scotia (6.8%) is 1.1 percentage points higher than the unemployment rate for those without disabilities. Nova Scotia’s unemployment rate for people without disabilities (5.7%) is the at the average among the ten provinces and its rate for those with disabilities is the fourth highest among the provinces.


Employment Rate by Severity of Disability

Employment Rates by Severity of Disability, 2017, Canada and Nova Scotia  Ages 15 to 64 years

Among people with disabilities, employment rates are affected by the severity of disability. This trend is observed at both the national and provincial level. However, while the employment rates for people with mild and moderate disabilities were higher at the national level compared to Nova Scotia, people with moderate and very severe disabilities had higher employment rates in Nova Scotia than at the national level. Nova Scotia’s employment rates for people with moderate and very severe disabilities were 20.8% and 23.2% respectively compared to 19.5% and 19.7% at the national level.


Type of Disability

Type of disability for persons with disabilities aged 15 years and over, Nova Scotia

The prevalence of disabilities varies at different stages of life. Common to all age groups, however, was the prominence of pain-related disabilities—which were the most prevalent disability type among working age adults. Among working age, 65.3% had a pain-related disability, and roughly half that percentage had a disability related to mental health, flexibility or mobility (and often in combination).

Mental health-related disabilities (39%) ranked fourth in prevalence among disability types for persons aged 15 years and over and represented just over 89,000 Nova Scotians. In fact, among youth, mental health-related (66.8%) was the most common type of disability, followed by learning (39.4%), and pain-related disabilities (30.1%).