Liberals to scrap policy that rejects sick, disabled immigrants

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says current provision doesn’t align with Canadian values of inclusion

By Kathleen Harris, CBC News

Canada is committed to ditching a policy that rejects immigrants because they’re sick or disabled and could be a drag on the health system, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says.

Calling it an “important and sensitive” issue, Hussen said the government will look at all options to revamp the 40-year-old policy, which bars entry to applicants when they could be costly to public health or social service systems.

“From a principled perspective, the current excessive demand provision policy simply does not align with our country’s values of inclusion of person with disabilities in Canadian society,” he said during an appearance at the House of Commons immigration committee Wednesday.

Hussen didn’t say how the provision would be changed, but said repealing it entirely is one option on the table.

He said the policy is currently estimated to save about $135 million for a five-year period of medical costs, which represents about 0.1 per cent of all provincial and territorial health spending.

During consultations with provinces, he said most support a policy review, but some are a bit “apprehensive” about potential costs they may have to incur.

Anticipated costs measured

Determinations are based on whether anticipated costs are expected to exceed the average Canadian per-capita health or social services costs over a five-year period, or if they could add to an existing waiting list that might delay care for Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

The immigration committee has been hearing from officials, advocates and affected persons about how the guidelines are currently applied and how they are being reviewed for possible adjustment.

There have been many high-profile cases reported in the media, including a York University professor whose application for permanent residency was turned down because his son has Down syndrome.

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