Studies have found that “persons with a disability have lower median incomes, are less likely to be employed, and are less likely to hold a university degree than persons without a disability (Wall, 2017). According to Statistics Canada, persons with disabilities make up over 40% of the low-income population. Approximately 25% of persons reporting a disability are low income, “earning less than one-half of the median Canadian income” (Wall, 2017). Employment and income for persons with disabilities is dependent upon the type of disability. Individuals with mental-cognitive disabilities are found to have lower incomes than those individuals with fine motor and dexterity disabilities.
Studies have found that when an onset of disability occurs before the age of 25, an individual is at a greater risk of becoming low income “if their disability impedes their opportunity to pursue their education or enter the labour market” (Wall, 2017). Research also demonstrates that living with lowers the risk of poverty for individuals with disabilities due to cost sharing and the ability to support each other. Individuals with disabilities living alone between the age of 45 and 64 are at greater risk of being low income.
Studies have found the propensity of peoples with disability in poverty to be a cyclical issue: “disability adds to the risk of poverty, and the conditions of poverty increase the risk of disability (Elwan, 1999).
Studies have identified effective approaches for empowering persons with disabilities. A capacity building approach can impact programs, policies, and accessibility for disabled persons, as well as create a platform for individuals to support each other and participate in social mobilization to improve their situation (Keys & Dowrick, 2001). This is also an effective approach to addressing poverty within this effected demographic.