Chapter 3 Activity limitations
Note to reader: The questions on activity limitations (questions 7 and 8 on the census questionnaire) are used as a filter for the postcensal Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS).
A total of 27 comments were received on activity limitations content. Most participants that provided feedback on this topic stressed the importance of having more detail about the type or the severity of the respondent's activity limitations.
Detailed types of activity limitations • Many of the submissions on this subject proposed that the activities and conditions grouped in questions 7 and 8 (such as hearing, seeing and learning) be broken out. The result would be more specific information on the nature of the respondent's limitations. These data would permit researchers, policy analysts and service providers to better ascertain the number of Canadians who have single and multiple impairments.
Severity of activity limitations • Participants also commented on the limits of the current response categories and the need to specify a timeframe. Some did not think the current options, ‘Yes, sometimes,' ‘Yes, often,' and ‘No,' sufficiently measured the gravity of the activity limitation or level of restriction faced by the respondent. It was recommended that a ‘Yes, always' option be added. Distinguishing whether limitations are the result of aging was also considered important.
Understanding the duration of the ailment can be useful for policy decisions. It was suggested that the preamble to the census activity limitations questions be harmonized with that of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) which asks about any current limitations in daily activities caused by a long-term health condition or problem. A long-term condition is expected to last or has already lasted 6 months or more.
Others who provided feedback on activity limitations recommended that the census
- include a general health question
- ask whether the respondent has been diagnosed with a physical disability.
Activity limitations content • It was felt that data on limitations of daily living will become increasingly important to program delivery and the planning and monitoring of social and public policy, given that Canada's population is aging and the number of people with disabilities is growing.
The decision to include new questions and modify or eliminate existing census content takes into account a number of factors, such as consultation feedback, support to legislation, program and policy needs, data quality, costs, historical comparability, respondent burden, privacy, operational considerations and alternative data sources.
More detailed questions on activity limitations were tested in the recent content test. Each of the following activity limitations were listed separately: hearing, seeing, walking or climbing stairs, communicating, bending or reaching and any psychological or emotional conditions. The respondent was also able to specify the type of condition (physical; psychological, emotional or mental health; learning difficulties; or, other health) that limits their activities at home, work, school or another area. In addition, an ‘Often or always' option replaced the ‘Yes, often' response category.
It should also be noted that in 2006 and previous censuses a postcensal Participation and Activity Limitations Survey (PALS) was conducted and covered many more detailed questions on types and severity of activity limitations, as well as collected detailed information on other related topics. Because of the dynamic and complex nature of disability, a postcensal survey such as PALS is a more appropriate vehicle for collecting reliable and detailed information about activity limitations because this subject matter requires more space than can be provided by the census. Therefore, PALS should be used whenever possible for the analysis of disability and activity limitations.
Activity limitations content on the census is used for evaluating and monitoring federal legislation, policies and programs including:
- Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Employment Equity Act
- Canada Health and Social Transfer
Source: Statistics Canada, Catalogue no. 92-379-XIE, 2001 Census Handbook.
Questions 7 and 8 on the 2006 Census questionnaire (see Appendix 3) relate to activity limitations.
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