Activities of daily living

Note: The questions on activities of daily living are used as a filter for the postcensal Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD), and previously for the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS). Some data uses reported during consultation may pertain to these surveys or include uses of data on persons with disabilities.

Activities of daily living, a topic that comprises two filter questions, allows Statistics Canada to survey Canadians who have difficulties with daily activities, and whose activities are limited because of a physical or mental condition or a health problem. It was noted during consultation that data on activities of daily living data will become increasingly important with Canada's growing aging demographic.

Examples of reported data usesFootnote1


At the federal level, data from this Census Program topic underpin the Employment Equity Act which provides employment benchmarksFootnote2 for persons with disabilities in the federal public sector and to employers of federally regulated organizations. Employment and Social Development Canada's (ESDC) Persons with Disabilities Working Group refer to these data for reporting on various agreements, including the federal/provincial-territorial bilateral Labour Market Agreements for Persons with Disabilities in order to evaluate societal and labour market integration. The federal government also uses these data when responding to Canada's reporting obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, for activities related to the National Housing Act, and to meet responsibilities stipulated by the Public Service Employment Act.

Provincial legislation and regulations for which a requirement for activities of daily living data were cited include the British Columbia Transportation Authority Act [SBC 1998] Chapter 30, Alberta's Family Support for Children with Disabilities Act, Ontario's Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, S.O. 2008, c. 14, Quebec's Loi assurant l'exercice des droits des personnes handicapées en vue de leur intégration scolaire, professionnelle et sociale (L.R.Q., c. M-15.001) and New Brunswick's Premier's Council on the Status of Disabled Persons Act.

At the local level, service and transit delivery rely on the insight provided by these data. It was reported by local governments in Ontario that these data are used in support of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.

Resource allocation and service delivery

Federally, the activities of daily living data are used for resource allocation and/or for service delivery. For example, Industry Canada refers to this information for their Community Access Program and ESDC requires them for the provision of services related to the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security.

These data support provincial employment and income assistance programs. In Manitoba, programs and services such as the Children's disABILITY Services and the MarketAbilities programs look to activities daily living results for the provision of adequate supports. The Alberta Seniors Services Division programs, such as Alberta Seniors Benefit, and Dental and Optical Assistance for Seniors Program require data on activities of daily living for planning, monitoring, reporting, policy development and service delivery.

Among the applications reported by local government, these results are used to determine funding for persons with disabilities in the area of housing and transportation, and to ensure the availability of services to persons with mental health conditions.

Planning, development, monitoring, evaluation and performance reports

Several departments use these data for program monitoring and/or performance reporting, for example, by the Public Health Agency of Canada for Chronic Disease Surveillance and Monitoring Programs, and by Health Canada for First Nation and Inuit (FNI) health policy planning and analysis. ESDC refers to activity of daily living data for the development of policies and programs related to Canadians with disabilities. Canadian Heritage's Exchanges Canada program monitors the geographic and demographic representation of participants (e.g., Aboriginal, rural, disabled youth and visible minorities) through the use of indicators derived from these data.

At the provincial/territorial level, activities of daily living data are used to determine program enhancements for persons with disabilities, to implement and monitor policies related to human rights, and to meet employment equity targets. They are consulted for planning and policies geared to seniors and persons with developmental disabilities, supportive living and long-term care. As well, these data assist with public service workforce planning.

A component of the City of Calgary's Corporate Accessibility Policy is greater knowledge and understanding of disabilities in the workplace. The City of Calgary also indicated that information on the education, socioeconomic and cultural characteristics of persons with disabilities is used for Council reports and the Advisory Committee on Accessibility Annual Report. These data are required by municipalities to implement policies and programs related to equity and accessibility, and assist with planning, such as for infrastructure retrofits in response to an aging demographic.

Local governments use these data for decisions related to urban design, to ensure housing is accessible and supportive, and for special needs programming. In addition, these results inform regional program plans such as regional strategic plans, human services plans and recycling of housing for an aging population.

Research and other uses

Both government and non-government administrations look to these data to understand the characteristics and geographic distribution of this population group.

They are used by non-government organizations for advocacy, the provision of support activities for caregivers who offer assistance to persons with decreasing independence, service delivery, policy development, priority setting, budgeting, research and development, for regression analysis and to determine market requirements.

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