Ottawa to relax restrictions on immigration applicants with disabilities

April 17, 2018

By Toronto Star |

Ottawa will relax the restrictions on immigrant applicants with disabilities and chronic health problems that have prevented many from immigrating to the country on the grounds of medical inadmissibility.

The change will be made as part of the government’s inclusive agenda. Advocates and critics say, however, they are disappointed the proposed changes fall short of a full repeal of the “excessive medical demand” clause, and that people with disabilities continue to be viewed as liabilities. A full repeal was recommended by a parliamentary immigration committee in a study released in December.

On Monday, federal Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen announced that he will update the 40-year-old policy that bars prospective immigrants deemed medically inadmissible to Canada, with new criteria of medical demand for immigration assessment taking effect on June 1.

Under current law, medical demand is found to be excessive if it exceeds the average annual health-care costs for a Canadian, which is estimated at $6,655. The proposed changes will raise the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility to three times that level, or $19,965, and remove references to special education, social and vocational services and personal support services needed by the applicants.

“This is better than nothing, but we don’t understand why there is still a cost threshold. Disability can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime,” said James Hicks of the Council of Canadians With Disabilities, who was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when he was 9.

“We do not agree to raising the bar so only the most disabled and vulnerable are not to be eligible to come to Canada. This just seems to be a bit of smoke and mirrors.”

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