Today the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, announced changes to the medical inadmissibility provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Until today, the outdated policy on medical inadmissibility allowed for applicants to be denied admission to Canada due to health conditions or disabilities. Applicants could be deemed inadmissible even though their health conditions or disabilities could be readily accommodated in Canadian society. Further, these applicants would have otherwise been approved for the economic immigration class because of their skill contributions to the Canadian economy.

Prior to this policy change, approximately 1,000 permanent and temporary resident applicants received a medical inadmissibility finding each year.

The newly announced policy aims to find a balance between protecting publicly funded health and social services while also updating the provision to reflect the current views in Canadian society on inclusion of persons with disabilities.

Specifically, 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.

The medical inadmissibility provisions have been under review by The Government since 2016 through input from provincial and territorial governments, stakeholders, and the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.

During the announcement, The Minister stated that the changes are “a major step forward in ensuring our immigration system is more inclusive of persons with disabilities and reflects the values of Canadians.”

Although the overall number of applicants denied due to the provision each year is quite low compared to other reasons for refusal, the change helps to set a precedent for the treatment and perception of all immigrants to Canada. Regardless of ability, everyone deserves to be treated fairly, and the disability of an applicant or their family member should not stand in the way of their successful immigration and contribution to Canada.

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