Improving our understanding of unmet needs among adults with a developmental disability


  • Jonathan Lai
  • Stephanie Dunn
  • Jennifer Zwicker



Labour force participation is lowest for persons with developmental disabilities (DD) compared to any other disability in Canada, even though many are ready, willing and able to work. Those who are employed often work for below minimum wage and have minimum protection by labour legislation. Yet little detail is known about employment outcomes for persons with DD in a Canadian context. Using national population survey data, this study explored the unmet employment, education and daily living needs of persons with two types of developmental disability, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and cerebral palsy (CP; Zwicker, Zaresani and Emery 2017)[1]. Disability was cited as a key barrier to employment for those not in the labour force, highlighting an urgent need for policies that promote accessibility and equal opportunity, as well as improved workplace practices and employment services and supports. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the experiences and challenges pertaining to the workplace, education and social supports, necessary in designing policies that deliver efficient and equitable services and better address the needs of Canadians with DD – a group that has been largely absent from policy dialogue.

[1] ASD and CP are two of the most common chronic developmental conditions that result in disability in Canadian children.