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Canada Could Remove “Discriminatory” Immigration Rule

Canada’s Immigration Minister, Ahmed Hussen, said his office is considering removing a section of the country’s Immigration Act that actively discriminates against people with disabilities.

Canada Could Remove “Discriminatory” Immigration Rule

The act, which is part of the health requirements for admission, states that a foreign person who may be in need of specialized and expensive medical treatment for a pre-existing condition may be denied residency in the country on the grounds that they would place an undue strain on the country’s medical and social benefit scheme – meant to service Canadians.

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On Wednesday the minister agreed the rule needs to be updated but did not elaborate on how the rules might be changed. He added that no decisions would be made without input from the provinces and territories who bear most of the costs of health and social services.

The minister, with support from all parties, have expressed distaste for the rule adding that more options and solutions would be considered or “We could eliminate it completely” Hussen said.

"This provision needs to be changed. It's simply not in line with our government's policies with respect to moving towards an accessibility agenda, but also with ... how Canadians are increasing of the opinion that we should be more inclusive as a society," Hussen said, testifying before the parliamentary committee.

The Minister confirmed that his office is considering several options as the federal government looks at possibly changing this provision of the Immigration Act.

These changes could include “double or triple” the cost threshold used to deny applicants, changes in the groups exempted from the provision, or redefining the services considered for prospective applicants when deeming them inadmissible, he said.

At present, only refugees and their family members are exempted from the provisions of medical inadmissibility and excessive demand rule.

Hussen commented that the options being considered could lead to the approval of roughly 80 percent of all applications that are currently denied under this rule. According to the Immigration Department, 1,429 immigration applications were rejected on medical grounds in the last three years.

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Under the law, demand is found to be excessive if it exceeds the average annual health care costs for a Canadian, which is currently estimated at $6,655.

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