Canadian workers vastly underestimate the likelihood they will become disabled, according to an RBC Insurance survey of 1,000 people.
Nearly one-half (45 per cent) believe disability occurs infrequently but one in seven Canadians are currently disabled and one in three working Canadians will experience a period of disability lasting longer than 90 days during their working lives, according to Statistics Canada.
"When it comes to disability, what Canadians don't know can hurt them," said Mark Hardy, senior manager, life and living benefits at RBC Insurance. "Canadians are overly optimistic about avoiding a disability and that lack of understanding reinforces the need for more education around this critical issue."
When it comes to defining what a disability is, the majority of Canadians consider physical accidents (72 per cent) and workplace-related accidents (64 per cent) to be a disability. Only 45 per cent consider depression to be a disability and less than one-third believe that anxiety (30 per cent) and diabetes (21 per cent) are disabilities.
"There is a mistaken perception that disabilities tend to be catastrophic in nature — caused by one-time, traumatic events. Most Canadians don't recognize that common, chronic conditions such as mental illness cause the majority of disabilities. In fact, less than 10 per cent of disabilities are caused by accidents," said Hardy.