If you are sick, disabled, and planning to immigrate to Canada, there is good news for you as Canadian Immigration is looking to abolish the policy that rejects applicants based on medical grounds. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says that the 40-year-old policy does not align with Canadian values of inclusion.
Hussen says that it is an “important and sensitive” issue since this long-standing policy bars entry to any applicants that are sick and disabled meaning they would be added costs to the public health or social service systems. “From a principled perspective, the current excessive demand provision policy simply does not align with our country’s values of inclusion of person with disabilities in Canadian society,” he said during at the House of Commons immigration committee last Wednesday. For instance, there was a York University professor whose application for permanent residency was rejected because his son has Down syndrome.
Going back to costs, Hussen added that this policy currently saves the Canadian Government $135 million in medical costs for a five-year period which is 0.1% of all provincial and territorial health spending. Due to these savings, there are still some provinces that are “apprehensive” about the policy change.
According to Michelle Rempel, a conservative immigration critic, it is not just the policy that is problematic but also how it is applied differently on a case-to-case basis depending on the immigration officers. “Regardless of what the legislative framework changes, it’s clear there’s also a service delivery issue,” she said. She then urged Hussen to ensure that immigration officers follow the policy consistently to which Hussen added that there is a plan for a centralized unit to make consistent decisions when it comes to medical background checks.
Jenny Kwan, an NDP immigration critic, said that Canada is violating human rights and international treaties that protect persons with disabilities due to this discriminatory immigration policy. There were 224 people between 2013 and 2016 alone who applied for humanitarian consideration after being rejected based on medical grounds, of which 91% were successful.
“I’m very cognizant of the fairness issue raised by the policy,” Hussen said as he assured the people that the Canadian government is committed to addressing inequity and live up to its beliefs and values.