The proportions of mental health-related disability increased 2.3 percentage points from 2019 (6.4 per cent) to 2021 (8.7 per cent), according to combined data from Statistics Canada’s labour force survey and Canadian income survey.

Among those who were employed during the first four months of 2021, more than one in five (21.5 per cent) had a physical, mental health, cognitive or other disability. This was an increase of 2.7 percentage points compared with 2019 (18.8 per cent), continuing a long-term upward trend associated with population aging and other factors.

“Given the change in labour market conditions from 2019 to 2021, particularly large scale employment losses related to the [coronavirus] pandemic, this increase was likely due mostly to an increase in the prevalence of mental health-related disability among those who were already employed, rather than an increase in employment among those with a disability,” noted Stats Can in a press release.

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It also found the proportion of employed women aged 16 to 24 with mental health-related disability was 17.2 per cent in 2021, an increase of 7.6 percentage points from 2019, the largest increase of all major demographic groups. Among employed men in the same age group, 8.9 per cent had a mental health-related disability in 2021, little changed from 2019.

For those in the core working ages (25 to 54), employed women also had a higher prevalence of mental health-related disability in 2021 (13 per cent and up 4.7 percentage points from 2019) compared to their male counterparts (6.5 per cent and up 1.6 percentage points from 2019).

In addition, Stats Can found the prevalence of mental health-related disability among employed people aged 55 and older was virtually unchanged from 2019 to 2021, but was lower than the prevalence seen among core-aged workers. Among employed women aged 55 years and older, 4.5 per cent had a mental health-related disability in 2021 and, among men in this age group, the prevalence was 3.3 per cent.

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