Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD)

Detailed information for 2017




Every 5 years

Record number:


The purpose of the Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) is to provide information about Canadians whose everyday activities may be limited because of a condition or health-related problem. This information will be used to plan and evaluate services, programs and policies for Canadians with disabilities to help enable their full participation in society. The survey is sponsored by Employment and Social Development Canada.

Data release - planned for December 3, 2018


The Canadian Survey on Disability (CSD) gathers information about Canadians aged 15 and over whose daily activities are limited due to a long-term condition or health-related problem.

Information from the CSD will be used by all levels of government, as well as associations for persons with disabilities and researchers working in the field of disability. Data may be used to plan and evaluate policies and programs for Canadian adults with disabilities to help enable their full participation in society. In particular, information on adults with disabilities is essential for the effective development and operation of the Employment Equity Program. Data on disability are also used to fulfill Canada's international agreement relating to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The survey collects information on: type and severity of disability, use of aids and assistive devices, help received or required, educational attainment, labour force status, experiences and accommodations at school or work and Internet use.


  • Disability
  • Equity and inclusion
  • Health
  • Society and community

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The population covered by the CSD consists of all persons aged 15 and over (as of May 10th 2016, Census Day), and who reported having difficulty "Sometimes", "Often" or "Always" to one of the Activities of Daily Living questions on the Census long form. This includes persons living in private dwellings in the 10 provinces and three territories. Persons living on a First Nations Indian reserve are excluded, as well as those living in collective dwellings.
The target population for the CSD corresponds to a subset of the covered population, namely persons who reported having a disability to the survey.

Instrument design

The questionnaire was developed in collaboration with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Input for the CSD survey was obtained from ESDC's Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on disability which consists of representatives from various community associations across Canada. The questionnaire was tested in both official languages throughout the development. Qualitative testing was done on content and conceptual changes by Questionnaire Design Resources Centre (QDRC) at Statistics Canada and was also conducted off site in several locations. The EQ application underwent qualitative testing by QDRC in conjunction with ESDC.

The 2017 CSD underwent the transformation from a Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI)/ Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) mode of collection to an Electronic Questionnaire (EQ). This required some adaptations so as to craft an EQ user friendly model. Modifications included presentation and wording of some questions and answer categories as well as the addition of help text.

A content review of the 2012 CSD was conducted with subject matter and stakeholders to identify any potential data gaps. New questions were added to the 2017 CSD to cover 5 new modules, these being General Health, Housebound, Veterans, Internet Use and Accessibility of Government Services. Two age-related questions were introduced to each of the 10 disability types, the first asks respondents at what age they began having difficulty with a health-related problem or condition. This question will identify the age at which their difficulty or condition first started (the onset). The second question will determine at what age the difficulty or condition begin to limit their daily activities.

The labour force component of the questionnaire also went through modifications as to better reflect that of Harmonized Content. Although Harmonized Content does not currently exist for the EQ method of collection, subject matter felt by taking this proactive approach to what will certainly be implemented in the future, the CSD will be better aligned with the existing CATI Harmonized Content, which will increase opportunities to compare responses between Statistics Canada surveys.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

The sample design is a stratified two-phase design based on the 2016 Census. The first phase is the Census itself, and corresponds to the sample of dwellings selected to receive the long form, so about 1 dwelling out of 4, systematically across Canada. Phase 2 corresponds to the sample of persons who reported having difficulty to the Activities of Daily Living questions on the long form Census.

The sampling unit for phase 1 (the Census) is the dwelling, while that of phase 2 is the person.

Strata were defined so as to guarantee sufficient sample sizes in each domain of estimation and optimize sample allocation. The domains of estimation consist of the provinces cross-classified with the following age groups: 15 to 24, 25 to 44, 45 to 64, 65 to 74, and 75 and over. In Prince Edward Island, the 15 to 24 are grouped with the 25-44 into a single domain. In the territories, all age groups are combined (15 and over).

Strata were formed within each domain by taking into account the Census sampling design so as to group together persons with similar preliminary sampling weights (i.e. remote areas vs non remote areas) and potential severity of the disability (i.e. mild, moderate or severe) which is approximated by considering the answers to the Activities of Daily Living questions (No, Sometimes, Often or Always) and the number of them which are positive. Hence 6 strata were created within each domain by crossing 3 severity levels by the fact of living in a remote area or not.

Sample allocation was done to be able to estimate a minimum proportion with a maximum coefficient of variation (CV) of 16.5% in each estimation domain. A CV of 16.5% corresponds to the upper limit for a CV so that the estimate is considered of an acceptable quality. The minimum proportion to estimate was set to 10% for the 15 to 24 years old, to 8.5% for the 25 to 44 and 45 to 64, to 12% for the 65 to 74, and to 13% for the 75 years and over. For Prince Edward Island, the minimum proportion to estimate for the 15 to 44 years old was set to 8.5% while in the three territories for the 15 and over, it was set to 9%.

Sample sizes computed with these parameters were further increased to compensate for two types of losses : the false positives (persons who reported difficulties to the Activities of Daily Living questions on the Census but who do not have a disability according to the CSD) and for non-response.

The total sample size for the 2017 CSD is 50,000 persons.

The sample was drawn using systematic sampling with the frame being sorted by collection unit to minimize the chance of selecting more than one person per household.

An additional sample of approximately 5,000 persons was also drawn to be part of a research project. This sample of persons was drawn among persons who did not report any difficulty to the Activities of Daily Living questions on the Census. The Disability Screening Questions will be asked to these persons to see if they have a disability or not. This will allow to determine to what extent the new questions on the Census cover persons with a disability.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2017-03-01 to 2017-08-31

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys.

Data collection is done by electronic questionnaire (EQ) and by phone (CATI). About 70% of respondents will receive the EQ while the other 30% will be contacted by phone. The choice of collection method for a respondent is in large part based on the one used for the 2016 Census. Respondents will all receive an invitation to participate to the survey by the mail, the EQ respondents receiving as well a link to the electronic questionnaire and a secure access code, while the CATI respondents are informed that they will be contacted by phone in a few weeks. Two reminder letters will be sent to EQ respondents about every 3 weeks. Collection for EQ and CATI will be done in parallel for the first 2 months, and then all EQ non respondents will be transferred to CATI for the last 2 months of collection.

Data will be obtained directly from the selected respondents, but proxy interviews will be allowed under some conditions.

The questionnaire is available in English and French. Interviews last about 35 minutes on average. To reduce interview time, Statistics Canada plans on combining the information from this survey to that of the 2016 Census (long form). It is possible that data from other surveys of administrative data sources be added.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

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