OTTAWA, April 16, 2018 /CNW/ - One of the Government of Canada's priorities is to ensure greater accessibility and opportunities for Canadians with disabilities. Today's announcement by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen of changes to the medical inadmissibility provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act ensures that our immigration policies better align with Canadian values and reflect the importance that the Government places on the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
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 3 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 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.
"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."
- The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
"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."
– The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
- 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.
Changes to Medical Inadmissibility Policy
Every year, approximately 1,000 applicants for permanent and temporary residence in Canada receive a medical inadmissibility finding. It is determined that their health condition may adversely affect health or social services, and this may lead to them being found to be medically inadmissible. About 200 to 300 cases relate to special education services for children.
No health condition leads to automatic inadmissibility. Applicants may be found inadmissible if the services required to treat their health condition or that of an accompanying dependent is anticipated to cost more than the annual cost threshold, which, for 2017, is $6,655 per year and $33,275 over 5 years.
There are exemptions for certain applicant categories, including refugees and some members of the family class, specifically spouses, common-law partners and dependent children. In addition, not all temporary residents are eligible for health and social services funded by provinces and territories, so only some temporary residents are assessed for medical inadmissibility. The medical inadmissibility provisions mostly affect the economic class.
Since 2016, the Government of Canada has been reviewing all elements of the medical inadmissibility provisions. This included discussing possible policy changes with the provinces and territories at the Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration in September 2017. Dialogue with the provinces and territories will continue in the coming months.
The upcoming policy changes (the removal of certain social services, such as special education, and an increase in the cost threshold) address the issue of inclusion, as they would mean that most people with disabilities would no longer be inadmissible.
By tripling the cost threshold, many applicants, particularly those with conditions that primarily require publicly funded prescription drugs (for example, HIV), would likely become admissible because the cost of most of these medications, particularly the generic brands, would not typically exceed the new cost threshold.
To improve client service and enhance transparency, a number of measures will be implemented. These include the following:
- centralization of medical inadmissibility applications to 1 office in Canada for greater consistency and efficiency in decision-making
- plain-language review and revamp of departmental procedures and products to facilitate the application process and ensure clear communication with clients
- ongoing training of decision makers and medical officers to support these changes
SOURCE Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
For further information: Contacts for media only, Hursh Jaswal, Minister's Office, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 613-954-1064; Media Relations, Communications Branch, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 613-952-1650, [email protected]