Medical inadmissibility policy brought in line with inclusivity for persons with disabilities

Ahmed Hussen

IMMIGRATION, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen on Monday announced changes to the medical inadmissibility provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, pointing out that this ensures that Canada’s immigration policies better align with Canadian values and reflect the importance that the federal government places on the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The government said that under the 40-year-old policy, applicants could be found medically inadmissible to Canada based on a set of criteria out of step with a 21st century approach to persons with disabilities. Most of those affected are individuals who would otherwise be approved in the economic immigration class, and selected for the benefit their skills will bring to the Canadian economy.

While the number of refusals under this provision was not high, it resulted in cases where applicants or their children were refused despite the fact their health condition or disability was one readily accommodated in Canadian society.

The new policy on medical inadmissibility strikes a balance between protecting publicly funded health and social services and updating the policy to bring it in line with current views on the inclusion of persons with disabilities.

The changes include:

* increasing the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility to three times the previous level, and

* amending the definition of social services by removing references to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services and personal support services.

Increasing the cost threshold will facilitate immigration for applicants with health conditions that typically require a limited range of health and social services and have relatively low health and social services costs. It is expected that this would dispense with a majority of the medical inadmissibility cases seen in Canada today.

Amending the definition of social services will bring the policy in line with Canadian values on supporting the participation of persons with disabilities in society, while continuing to protect publicly funded health and social services. This would also benefit applicants with intellectual disabilities, applicants with hearing or visual impairments, and others.

The federal government has been reviewing all elements of the medical inadmissibility provisions since 2016. This included meetings with provincial and territorial governments, and discussions with stakeholders.

In addition, 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.

Hussen said: “The changes we are announcing today are a major step forward in ensuring our immigration system is more inclusive of persons with disabilities, and reflects the values of Canadians.”

Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, said: “While there is always more work to do, this policy is an important next step for full inclusion of people with disabilities. Today’s changes are long overdue and ensure more families are welcome in Canada.”

 

Quick Facts

* 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.

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