Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy: Envisioning the future of disability policy in Canada

Reasons for the study

Illness and disability touch most people at some point over their lifetime, affecting their ability to participate in the Canadian workforce. Yet the policy governing work disability tends to be piecemeal and uncoordinated, and attempts to revamp Canadian work disability policy systems have failed to address core changes to workplaces and labour markets.

This seven-year initiative, a transdisciplinary enquiry into the future of work disability policy and labour-market engagement, aims to identify how people, when disabled, can be better retained and integrated into the Canadian labour market.

When referring to work disability policy, the project means policy related to any federal, provincial or territorial program in Canada that shapes income security and labour-market engagement for work-disabled individuals. The project also includes employers in the disability policy system because they play an important role in shaping opportunities for work-disabled individuals and also have specific obligations under some programs and laws.

Objectives of the study

  • Provide a forum for within- and cross-provincial and national dialogue on challenges and opportunities for improving the Canadian work disability policy system
  • Identify problems and challenges associated with program coordination and complexity
  • Identify relevant and favourable alternative approaches to system design and service provision through select comparisons with countries and small-scale trials
  • Mobilize knowledge developed within and outside of the initiative in order to inform policy
  • Build capacity for research and knowledge mobilization on the topic of work disability policy and labour-market engagement of individuals with disabilities

For the full scope of the people, activities, research findings and achievements of this initiative, which has its headquarters at the Institute for Work & Health, visit the CRWDP website: https://www.crwdp.ca/en/home

Target audience

The project hopes to begin answering the following questions.

1. How well does the Canadian disability policy system serve the current and emerging needs of work-disabled people of working age in terms of employment support and opportunities?

2. For which individuals and in what labour-market contexts does the Canadian disability policy system work well or not work well, and why?

3. What are the key opportunities for policy and program improvement in the short and long run?

This information will be significant to Canadian work disability policy systems, disability communities, injury worker communities, employers, policy-makers, disability program administrators and community service providers.

Related scientific publications

Related interviews and articles

IWH Speaker Series presentations

Project status


Research team

  • Emile Tompa, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Arif Jetha, Institute for Work & Health
  • Dan Samosh, Institute for Work & Health
  • Sabrina Imam, Institute for Work & Health
  • Kathy Padkapayeva, Institute for Work & Health

Collaborators and partners

About 50 co-investigators and over 60 partners are involved in this project.

Funded by

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada