Definition of disability in Canada

“Is my illness considered a disability?”

Since disability is a subjective term you will find all sorts of definitions out there, even for different departments of the same government.

For instance, if you work for a federally regulated company in Canada, you’ll be asked to fill out an employment equity form.  One of the questions on this form is whether you consider yourself to be disabled. They will give you this definition as a guideline:

Persons with disabilities are persons who consider themselves to be, or believe that an employer or a potential employer would be likely to consider them to be disadvantaged in employment by reason of any persistent physical, mental, psychiatric, sensory or learning impairment (Employment Equity Act 1995, guideline 4).

On the other hand, if you wish to apply for the Revenue Canada disability tax credit, you will encounter another  definition of people with disabilities.

Individuals who have a severe and prolonged impairment

in physical or mental functions.

They further ask people to define themselves based on these criteria:

Because of the impairment, you are significantly restricted in two or more of

the basic activities of daily living listed in question 4, or you are significantly restricted in vision and at least

one of the basic activities of daily living listed in question 4, even with appropriate therapy, medication, and


_ These significant restrictions exist together, all or substantially all the time.

_ The cumulative effect of these significant restrictions is equivalent to being markedly restricted (defined on the

next page) in a single basic activity of daily living.

Please note that I am not a lawyer and no legal advice is implied in this article.  Other laws may also apply. Laws and regulations often change so I advise you to check with relevant government websites for the latest information.

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