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Stats Canada: One out of three Nova Scotians lives with disabilities

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – 30.4%, or almost one in three Nova Scotians, self-identifies as living with one or more disabilities, new data published by Statistics Canada show.

No other province comes close to those numbers. Canada-wide the percentage is 22.3%, or more like one in five.

The high percentage of Nova Scotians living with disabilities  isn’t just because the province has a relatively high share of Canada’s ageing population, as is often assumed. Nova Scotia leads the pack in all age-groups.

Canada Nova Scotia
Overall 22.3% 30.4%
15-24 years 13.1% 21.1%
25-44 years 15.3% 23.4%
45-64 years 24.3% 32.7%
65-74 years 32% 37.8%
75 years and over 47.4% 47.4%

25.1% of Nova Scotians with disabilities consider those disabilities to be severe. Once again that’s more than any other province, with a Canadian average of 22.1%

Unsurprisingly, people who live with disabilities have a hard time finding a job. While almost 79% of Nova Scotians are employed, this is only the case for 62.2% of Nova Scotians with one or more disabilities.

Stats Canada also collects data about the types of disability people self-report.

Canada Nova Scotia
Pain-related 4,062,000 65% 149,870 65.3%
Flexibility 2,795,110 44.7% 107,560 46.9%
Mobility 2,676,370 42.8% 100,380 43.8%
Mental health-related 2,027,370 32.5% 89,380 39%
Seeing 1,519,840 24.3% 49,580 21.6%
Hearing 1,334,520 21.4% 50,140 21.9%
Dexterity 1,275,610 20.4% 50,310 21.9%
Learning 1,105,680 17.7% 39,740 17.3%
Memory 1,050,840 16.8% 40,220 17.5%
Developmental 315,470 5.1% 9,670 4.2%
Unknown 155,810 2.5% 7,100 3.1%

Almost 150,000 Nova Scotians live with chronic pain, some 10,000 Nova Scotians self-reported as living with developmental disabilities.  

Also note the high proportion of people who report living with mental health issues, numbers that make Nova Scotia’s crisis in mental health care all the more urgent.

Even more remarkable is that across all age groups the number of people reporting mental health issues is consistently higher in Nova Scotia than in Canada altogether.

So now you know.


Further reading:

Here are the data tables I used for this article:

  1. Persons with and without disabilities aged 15 years and over, by age group and sex, Canada, provinces and territories
  2. Severity of disability for persons with disabilities aged 15 years and over, by age group and sex, Canada, provinces and territories
  3. Type of disability for persons with disabilities aged 15 years and over, by age group and sex, Canada, provinces and territories
  4. Labour force status of persons with and without disabilities aged 25 to 64 years, by age group and sex, Canada, provinces and territories


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One Comment

  1. It’s no mystery to me why so many people in this province are in such poor health. It is my very strong opinion that for some Nova Scotians, the government has, through it’s cruel and punitive income assistance program, either caused people to develop serious health problems or made those problems much worse. It has been common knowledge for a very long time that one’s income level has a direct effect on health and Nova Scotia has a high percentage of people living in poverty. The doctor shortage is also contributing to this. People with health issues are not being monitored and new health problems are being missed, and this causes a delay in medical care, which worsens the conditions that are debilitating. Then there’s shockingly long wait times to see specialists and mental health care is almost non-existent.

    The government of Nova Scotia is 100% responsible for 95% of the health problems I have that prevent me from working. Initially, I went on assistance for PTSD, which took me a few years to deal with. However, I have been on assistance for nearly 30 years now because of the sudden abject poverty they plunged me in. It took less than a year of poor diet and the extreme stress of poverty to devastate my health. Low caloric intake and poor nutrition triggered metabolic and endochrine disorders, which led to more health problems. The Department of Community Services first destroyed my health, then made it much worse by not providing me with enough money for a healthy diet. If they had, I would have been back to work within a few years as soon as my PTSD had eased up enough. Almost all of my health problems would completely disappear in a matter of months if I had enough money to eat a very healthy diet. Given the high cost of food, I would need at least another $300/month. A reasonable amount of money to live on for a few years back then would have meant I could have gone back to work, and prevented the constant suffering I endure and the waste of my whole life.

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