Cost to Canadians of excluding people with disabilities from the labour market

Reasons for the study

It is estimated that 795,000 people with disabilities in Canada are unemployed despite being able and willing to work. Many barriers prevent these people from working, including discrimination and bias, employers’ concerns about cost and productivity, and a lack of knowledge about accommodation. Not included in this number are the underemployed—those individuals with skill levels higher than their job demands who are unable to secure appropriate work due to their disability. The question driving this study is: What is the cost to Canadians of excluding people with disability from fully participation in the paid labour market?

Objectives of the study

  • To estimate the size of the key components of exclusion, such as labour-market output/ productivity costs, exclusion from social role engagement, expenses for support provided by social programs
  • To identify the distribution of the costs of exclusion across stakeholders—people with disabilities and their families, employers, the public sector and society at large

Anticipated results/impact

The information on the costs of exclusion of people with disabilities from the world of work in Canada will be relevant to injured worker and disability communities, employers, policy-makers, disability program administrators and service providers.

Project status


Research team

Emile Tompa, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
Young Jung, Institute for Work & Health

Participating organizations

Employment and Social Development Canada
International Labour Organization
Public Health Agency of Canada
World Health Organization

Funded by

Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy, Ontario Ministry of Labour