On April 16, 2018, The Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced changes to the medical inadmissibility provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The changes will loosen the rules than deem some prospective immigrants inadmissible on medical grounds.
The Minister said the medical inadmissibility policy, which has been in place for more than 40 years, is “way out of date” and not in line with Canadian values or government policies of inclusion.
Under the revised policy, applicants will not be denied permanent residence if they or any of their children have developmental delays, special education requirements, or a hearing or visual impairment. The anticipated health-care cost threshold — the sum a prospective immigrant cannot exceed in annual health care costs in order to be admissible — will increase to about $20,000 a year, about three times the previous threshold.
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.
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.
To improve client service and enhance transparency, a number of measures will be implemented. These include the following:
- centralization of medical inadmissibility applications to one 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