Price Survey of Assistive Devices For Persons With Disabilities

Detailed information for 2001/02




One Time

Record number:


The principal survey objective was to create a comprehensive national source of objective information about the prices faced by persons with disabilities, their families, and health and social service organizations.

Data release - February 6, 2004


This national survey of commercial retailers and other providers of disability supports was conducted on behalf of Human Resource Development Canada (HRDC). The principal survey objective was to create a comprehensive national source of objective information about the prices faced by persons with disabilities, their families, and health and social service organizations.

This price survey will assist in the work of researchers, policy makers, service providers and advocates.

Reference period: Point in time prices for assistive devices and services collected between October 2001- April 2002


  • Disability
  • Health
  • Lifestyle and social conditions
  • Prices and price indexes

Data sources and methodology

Target population

All businesses providing disability-related products to Canadians.

Instrument design

The list of products covered in the survey started with a base of supports asked in the 1991 Health and Activity Limitations Survey and those listed in the Income Tax Act regulations for the Medical Expense Tax Credit. From this base point HRDC worked with the Roeher Institute to enhance the draft conceptual framework of disability-related products, supports and services. Consultations were undertaken with members of other disability-related non-governmental organizations (for example, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and the Canadian Hearing Association) and members of the community to ensure that the framework was reasonably all encompassing and accurate. The sample of products included was meant to be representative and not fully comprehensive of all aids/devices and supports available.

Prices were collected for the following types of products:

- Hearing devices; hearing aids, interpreters.
- Mobility devices; orthosis, prosthesis, braces, walking aids, mechanical and powered wheelchairs, specialty furniture and lift devices, home beds, van and car conversions.
- Breathing devices.
- Ostomy, colostomy, urostomy and incontinence devices.
- Diabetic products.
- Psychiatric conditions; drugs and services.
- Sight impaired devices; products, interpreters.
- Nursing services.
- Local transportation fares; public transit, taxis.

Statistics Canada and HRDC collaborated to design and conduct a national price survey of commercial retailers, service providers and other supports to obtain prices of disability-related goods and services.


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

For most of the data collected, the sample frame was created from lists of commercial retailers and service providers from the Business Register, Electronic Yellow Pages, and the Canadian Register of Psychologists. There were some exceptions.

- Supports for the blind, where the CNIB was the sole source of price data. CNIB also provided sales data, and price estimates for many of these supports using sales based weights;
- Drugs used in the treatment of diabetes and psychiatric conditions. Results were taken from the November 2001, Consumer Price survey (CPI) (Survey ID 2301).

Sample units were outlets selling disability support products. In most cases, sampling was limited to cities currently included in the Consumer Price Index.

This survey used non-probabilistic sampling, also referred to as judgemental sampling. Price samples were chosen using judgement of probable significance of market shares. (CPI also uses judgemental sampling for most of its components). Criteria used for choosing an outlet included the representativity of the outlet, as well as geographical factors (outlets were chosen to provide wide geographic coverage).

Sample sizes of outlets or providers were as follows:
Retailers of disability support products: 851.
Disability-related service fees and costs of orthoses/prostheses: 940.
Drugs: 99
Prescription glasses or lenses: 114
Public transportation (municipal transportation authorities): 58
Taxis: 57
Van conversions: 38

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2001-10-01 to 2002-04-30

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents, extracted from administrative files and derived from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

Direct surveys:
Prices were collected in outlets by interviewers from Statistics Canada regional offices. Outlet managers completed the questionnaires. They were picked up several days later upon completion. Respondents were asked to complete the information within 30 days of receipt. Survey follow-up was performed after 30 days for late respondents.

There were three kinds of questionnaires sent in two separate time periods.

January 2002 - The first questionnaire consisted of a list of items and services to be priced for assistive devices for hearing impaired, mobility impaired, breathing impaired, speaking impaired, special furniture for handicapped people, diabetic supplies, ostomy, colostomy, urostomy and incontinence products.

April 2002 - The second questionnaire consisted of a list of goods and services for physiotherapy, psychotherapy, nursing services, conventional orthoses and myoelectric limbs. The third questionnaire dealt with van and car conversion fees.

Administrative survey:
The CNIB provided Statistics Canada with an electronic file with prices for numerous articles related to blind persons. Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) provided Statistics Canada with an electronic file with rates from different regions in Canada for sign language interpreters.

Derived survey:
The CPI database was used to derive the prices for prescribed drugs, and also the price of vans (used for calculation of van conversions for handicapped people).

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

Error detection

Error detection was performed on individual price quotes during the processing stage of the survey. Manual verification was performed once data were entered into electronic files. As there was no follow-up with interviewers for suspect prices, a further step in error detection consisted of removing from the database a very small number of prices believed to be reporting errors based on extreme values or other striking inconsistencies. Administrative data records were reviewed and judged of satisfactory quality and were therefore not subject to corrections.


Missing prices or prices deleted in the editing process were not imputed, but simply dropped from the total sample. In effect, missing prices were imputed with the average of all observed prices used in the estimation process.


Simple averages of observed prices were calculated at provincial and Canada levels.

All statistical tests on the resulting estimates were performed by HRDC.

Quality evaluation

Normal operational quality assurance methods were used for collection, editing and estimation processes. Statistics Canada had very little experience with prices information for the products in scope to this survey. Thus, quality evaluation involving comparisons of average prices with other published sources were made by HRDC.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects that 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.

In order to prevent any data disclosure, confidentiality analysis is done using the Statistics Canada Generalized Disclosure Control System (G-Confid). G-Confid is used for primary suppression (direct disclosure) as well as for secondary suppression (residual disclosure). Direct disclosure occurs when the value in a tabulation cell is composed of or dominated by few enterprises while residual disclosure occurs when confidential information can be derived indirectly by piecing together information from different sources or data series.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

This methodology does not apply to this survey.

Data accuracy

Response rates varied for different elements of the survey. The response rate was 36% for the survey questionnaire which obtained price quotes on the following types of products: hearing impaired, mobility impaired, breathing impaired, special furniture, diabetic items, ostomy, colostomy, urostomy and speaking impaired.

The response rate was 58% for the questionnaire which obtained prices for the following: nursing services, physiotherapy, psychotherapy and orthoses.

The response rate was 45% for the survey on prices of van conversions.

Due to the fact that the survey uses a non-probabilistic sampling methodology combined with administrative data sources to obtain the necessary information, confidence intervals are not estimated.

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