On April 16, 2018, the Honourable Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”), announced changes to the medical inadmissibility provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA”) and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (“IRPR”), to ensure Canada’s immigration policies better reflect the importance of inclusion of persons with disabilities.
Since 2016, the Government of Canada had been reviewing all elements of its medical inadmissibility provisions, engaging in discussions with provincial and territorial governments along with other relevant stakeholders. Additionally, the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration had examined the issues surrounding Canada’s medical inadmissibility policy, recommending eliminating it in its entirety. In response, today’s changes, which are proposed to take effect immediately, include the following:
1. Increase the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility
Currently, if a foreign national has a medical condition for which certain aspects of their treatment exceed the annual cost threshold, they may be found to be medically inadmissible to Canada. The 2017 threshold to determine whether a condition represents an excessive demand on health or social services is $6,655 annually, or $33,275 over five years. The cost threshold will be increased to three times this level.
By tripling the cost threshold, many applicants, particularly those with conditions treated primarily with publicly funded health services, will no longer be inadmissible to Canada. This change is especially notable for those applicants who rely on prescription medication which is eligible to be funded by a provincial program, as the total publicly-borne cost of these medications may now fall within the revised cost threshold.
2. Amending the definition of ‘social services’
Currently, when determining whether an applicant is medically inadmissible to Canada, Immigration Officers assess whether an individual’s circumstances is likely to place an excessive demand on social services, which is broadly defined to include services such as special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services, and personal support services. The new policy seeks to amend the definition of social services to remove reference to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services, and personal support services. The result is that the publicly funded cost of these services will no longer count toward the amount used to determine excessive demand.
Amending the definition of social services will support societal inclusion of persons with disabilities, while continuing to protect publicly funded social services, in addition to benefiting those applicants with intellectual disabilities or hearing or visual impairments.
3. Client service Improvements
In order to improve client service, enhance transparency in decision making, and enable these changes, the following measures will be implemented:
– Centralizing applications containing a potential medical inadmissibility to one office in Canada, for greater consistency and efficiency in decision-making;
– Conducting a plain-language review, and revamping departmental procedures and products to facilitate the application process and to ensure clear communication with applicants; and
– Providing ongoing training to decision makers and medical officers to support these changes.
Every year, approximately 1,000 applicants for permanent and temporary residence in Canada are found medically inadmissible to Canada. Approximately twenty to thirty percent of these cases relate to excessive demand caused by special education services required for children. IRCC’s new policy is expected to dispense with a majority of medical inadmissibility cases, as the increased cost threshold will facilitate immigration for applicants with conditions that typically require a limited range of health and social services, and whom have a relativelylow financial impact on health and social service costs.
The new policy seeks to address the issue of inclusion, as some current and soon-to-be applicants may be found medically inadmissible to Canada based on a set of criteria established approximately forty years ago. The implementation of this new policy means that most people with disabilities that would previously have been deemed inadmissible to Canada may no longer face this barrier.
For more information on medical inadmissibility, or any other immigration related matter, please contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.