COMPAS Poll/Survey
October 16, 2008

Where the Public Stands on Fairness, Job Performance, and Society’s Obligations

  A Canada-Wide Survey on Disabilities for JOIN
Policy and Opinion
Consumer and Lifestyle
Business and Finance

JOIN engaged COMPAS to carry out a national survey on attitudes to disabilities among a representative sample of Canadians. The following are some of the principal findings:

  • The public person considered by most people as the very best representative of people with disabilities is the late Terry Fox;

  • Two-thirds (68%) of Canadians have a disability or know someone with a disability;

  • The overwhelming majority of Canadians believe that individuals who have a disability find it somewhat or a lot harder to find a job than the average person;

  • Employees with disabilities are perceived as bringing some distinct advantages to the workplace. (a) Half of Canadians believe a customer service person with a disability would be more understanding or motivated than average, and almost none less. (b)The overwhelming majority of Canadians believe that an employee with a disability would be more loyal or a lot more loyal than an average employee if an accommodating employer spent money to make it easier for the person with a disability to work;

  • By a 10:1 margin Canadians believe that society gives too low a priority rather than too high a priority in helping individuals with disabilities;

  • Canadians tend to perceive corporations as focusing their efforts on protecting the environment and supporting community groups. A plurality of Canadians would like corporations to invest more effort into accommodating customers or employees with disabilities; and

  • The overwhelming majority of Canadians would favour companies that had a policy of hiring people with disabilities.

Canadians feel that some people with a disability would out perform the average Canadian with the right equipment. About one-third of Canadians believe that a deaf pastry chef with the right computer would do better than the average Canadian while almost none would think he/she would do worse. Most Canadians think that a hotel service person with a reading disability or dyslexia, a clothing store clerk in a wheelchair, and a flower shop person with a depression would perform as well as the average person.

Canadians tend to have a consensus or strong majority position on a number of the issues explored in this study. Even on those themes that do not engender strong agreement, divisions of opinion are largely personal and do not pit regions or other demographic groups against each other.

The representative survey of n>620 Canadians was completed October 6, 2008. By convention, surveys of this size are deemed accurate to within approximately 4 percentage points 19 times out of 20. The principal investigators on this study were Dr. Conrad Winn and Tamara Gottlieb

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