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Medical Inadmissibility in Canada: Policy Updates


Medical Inadmissibility in Canada: Policy Updates

Jade Calver

Medical Inadmissibility in Canada

Earlier this year, the government made a plan to prioritize accessibility for Canadians with disabilities. Prior to April 2018, the government held a 40-year-old policy that excluded immigrants based on their medical conditions. Section 38-1(c) of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) stated that potential immigrants may be rejected if they were “expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.”

The government defined an excessive demand as those individuals who exceeded the cost of the average citizen’s health and social services. In 2017, this threshold was $6,655 per year or $33,275 over five years. This policy resulted in a number of cases where applicants or their children were refused entry despite the fact that their health or disability could be easily accommodated in Canada.

Statistics About Medical Inadmissibility in Canada

  • The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration began studying the Government’s policies and guidelines regarding medical inadmissibility in October 2017.

  • Every year, approximately 1,000 permanent and temporary resident applicants receive a medical inadmissibility finding. This is 0.2 % of applicants who undergo medical screening.

  • In 2015, the savings to provinces and territories due to the medical inadmissibility policy represented just 0.1 % of all publicly funded health spending in Canada.

  • The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act exempts certain individuals from the medical inadmissibility provision, including family class sponsored spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners, dependent children, Convention refugees or persons in similar circumstances, and protected persons.

Critics of the old policy suggested that the clause discriminates and stigmatizes individuals in a hurtful manner.

New Policy

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Minister, Ahmed Hussen proposed changes to medical inadmissibility to ensure that Canadians of all ability levels are given an equal opportunity to come to Canada.

In Fall of 2017, Hussen said that the policy “does not align with our country’s values of inclusion of person with disabilities in Canadian society.”

The aim of the new policy is to treat applicants fairly and equitably by increasing the cost threshold to $20,000 from $6,665. This will benefit applicants with intellectual disabilities, hearing impairments, visual impairments, and other ability levels.

Impact of Policy Revisions

These changes have real impacts on prospective immigrants. Consider the medical inadmissibility case of Samrat Saha. Saha, a father of six, was denied permanent residency in Canada last year, along with his entire family because his six-year-old son has autism. This policy will now allow the family to stay in Canada.

Elimination of Policy

Many Canadians have responded to the revision by demanding complete elimination of the policy. Advocacy groups suggest that while these changes are a step in the right direction, there is still room for improvement.

According to the Government of Canada, “the issue was studied by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, which recommended eliminating the policy. Going forward, the Government agrees with the Standing Committee’s recommendation to eliminate the policy and will collaborate with provinces and territories towards its full elimination.”

To read more about these changes, visit the Government of Canada website.

At Calver and Associates, we strive to help you overcome any obstacles to the immigration process. To find out how we can help you, contact us.

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