In a news release on April 16th, 2018, the Government of Canada announced they will be loosening medical inadmissibility restrictions for immigration applicants living with certain disabilities and medical conditions. The new, more relaxed requirements will make it easier for individuals living with medical conditions requiring drug treatment, like HIV, and will create leeway for the parents of children living with certain mental health conditions, like autism. While the new restrictions will not eliminate the medical inadmissibility provision altogether, the government has announced that the complete elimination of the policy is a future goal.
Under Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), those applying for Canadian permanent resident status may have their application refused if they, or one of their family members, has a medical condition which will cause excessive demand on Canada’s health and social services. Before these new changes were announced, excessive demand was based on a cost threshold of $6,655 CAD per year. If an immigration applicant could reasonably be expected to have higher costs than this amount, their application would be refused on the grounds of medical inadmissibility.
The changes we are announcing today are a major step forward in ensuring our immigration system is more inclusive of persons with disability, and reflects the values of Canadians.
The excessive demand provision has made immigration difficult for people with a variety of medical conditions. Those living with diabetes, HIV, and other long-term conditions requiring regular prescription drug treatment have often been refused for the cost of these drugs. Additionally, children living with certain mental health conditions and learning disabilities have been refused because they will require extra assistance in schooling.
The policy has been heavily criticized by a number of groups for being unfair towards certain medical conditions as well as discriminatory towards people living with disabilities. Through extensive research, hearings, and negotiations, Canada’s Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration recommended the complete repeal of the policy back in December 2017. Over the past four months, the federal government has consulted with its provincial counterparts to determine the best way to address the policy. The April 16th announcement is the result of these recommendations and consultations.
In the April 16th announcement, several important changes were revealed.
By increasing the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility, there will be more leniency for immigration applicants who require regular prescription drug treatment. As long as their treatment requires less than approximately $20,000 CAD in prescription medication per year, then this should not be grounds for refusal.
As well, by removing special education, social and vocational rehab services, and personal support services, parents who have children with conditions requiring specialized education programs will no longer be refused on those grounds.
While the full details about the new changes and the timeline for implementation have not yet been released, we can expect more information to become available in the coming days and weeks. In additional to these immediate changes, the government has voiced its support for the complete elimination of the policy and the intention to continue working with provinces and territories towards this goal.
It should be noted that certain classes of immigration applicants are exempt from the excessive demand provision. This includes spouses, common-law partners, and dependent children who are sponsored for permanent residency by a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, as well as those applying through refugee and humanitarian pathways for immigration.
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