Persons With Disabilities as a Designated Equity Group

(Adopted April 8, 1988)


The Commission’s Policy on Persons with Disabilities as a Designated Equity Group is CURRENTLY UNDER REVIEW.


Persons with disabilities are persons who have a disability within the meaning of section 2(1)(d.1) of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.

In addition, for the purposes of employment equity plans, persons with disabilities:

  • have persistent physical, intellectual, mental, psychiatric, sensory or learning conditions that
    • require a technical device and/or personal support or service which enables such persons to perform the essential functions of a job; and/or
    • require some form of accommodation such as extra rest breaks, or time off/leave to obtain treatment as necessary, or modifications to job responsibility, job site, or work hours;
  • consider themselves, and believe an employer or a potential employer would consider them disadvantaged in finding, retaining or advancing in employment because of that condition.

Employers will accommodate persons with disabilities. This accommodation can include the following.

  • For persons with communication disabilities, accommodation can include the use of sign language interpretation, Telewriter (TTY), braille, audio tapes, computer diskettes, or other methods of communicating.
  • For persons with mobility disabilities, accommodation can include providing accessibility to buildings and facilities, and modifying washrooms.
  • For persons with intellectual disabilities, accommodation can include job coaching or individualized on-the-job training.

The long-term goal of employment equity plans will be to achieve representation of persons with disabilities that matches the representation of persons with moderate to severe disabilities in the working age population, currently 9.7 percent. In order to reach this goal within a reasonable time period, employers who have not yet achieved the long-term goal will be asked to set interim hiring goals that are higher than 9.7 percent for persons with moderate to severe disabilities.

The hiring, promotion or transferring of persons with disabilities into occupations will be based on the availability of qualified or qualifiable candidates.


The Commission has noted inconsistent definitions of “persons with disabilities” in the reports of employers with approved employment equity plans. As well, organizations representing persons with disabilities have expressed concerns that those persons who experience significant barriers to employment because of disability do not benefit from equity initiatives.

Section 55 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code gives the Commission authority to approve special programs designed to prevent, eliminate or reduce disadvantages experienced by groups of individuals because of a prohibited ground of discrimination. With employment equity plans, the Commission sets numerical goals for the employment of members of each designated group. In setting the numerical goal for the employment of persons with disabilities, the Commission has considered both the definition of “persons with disabilities” and statistics showing the representation of this group in Saskatchewan’s working age population.

Statistics Canada provides different figures for the representation of persons with disabilities in Saskatchewan’s working age population, depending on the degree of disability involved. Statistics Canada’s 1991 Health and Activity Limitation Survey shows that people with moderate to severe disabilities make up 9.67 percent of Saskatchewan’s working age population. In most cases, these individuals require job accommodation. If people with milder disabilities are also included, the percentage increases to 16.6 percent.

In section 2(1)(d.1) of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, “disability” is defined as follows.

“Disability” means:

  • any degree of physical disability, infirmity, malformation or disfigurement and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, includes:
    • epilepsy;
    • any degree of paralysis;
    • amputation;
    • lack of physical co-ordination;
    • blindness or visual impediment;
    • deafness or hearing impediment;
    • muteness or speech impediment; or
    • physical reliance on a service animal, wheelchair or other remedial appliance or device; or
  • any of:
    • an intellectual disability or impairment;
    • a learning disability or a dysfunction in one or more of the processes involved in the comprehension or use of symbols or spoken language; or
    • a mental disorder.

In their reports to the Commission, some employers use a broad definition of “persons with disabilities” based on section 2(1)(d.1) of the Code, while others use definitions focusing on the effects of a disability on a person’s ability to obtain and maintain employment. Some employers also have limited understanding of what an employment-related disability involves. It is not always understood, for instance, that some individuals with sensory disabilities (for example, people who are deaf or blind) will experience barriers to communication.

The definition of disability in section 2(1)(d.1) of the Code is too broad for the purposes of employment equity plans, because many individuals who have a disability within the meaning of the Code can perform their job successfully without any accommodation by their employer. Unless they encounter attitudinal barriers, they may not need the special measures that are part of an employment equity plan. A narrower definition of disability will allow a more effective use of employment equity plans and enable persons with disabilities that require accommodation to participate in and contribute equally to a workforce which is more reflective of the Saskatchewan community.

To establish consistency and promote the employment of persons with disabilities, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission has adopted the above definition and goals for the purposes of employment equity plans under section 55 of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code.