Ahmed Hussen, the former Canada’s Immigration Minister said that it is being considered to remove a part of the country’s Immigration Act which discriminates against disabled people. As per him, all the options are laid down on the table and could be completely eliminated.
As per the speech given by Mr. Hussen on Wednesday in Ottawa before the parliament committee on reviewing the provision of excessive demand of the act, people who are suffering from disability, as well as their family members, are considered as a burden on the country’s publicly-funded health as well as the social service systems.
Immigration officers reject visa applications wrongfully
The testimony comes with a Global News investigation which showed how exactly the immigration officers of Canada use wrong information in order to deny hundreds of applications every year. In fact, they even fail to give cost estimated in the “procedural fairness letters” which are provided to people who are denied owing to the so-called “medical inadmissibility.” As per the existing law of Canada, providing the necessary cost estimates is essential.
He also said that this provision has been there for more than 40 years now and the review is henceforth long overdue and necessary. The present excessive demand provision policy does not match with the values of the country on the inclusion of people suffering from any kind of disability.
Excessive demand provision policy – Unjust and unfair
Experts at the immigration department as well as the advocates decried this excessive demand provision as unfair and unjust. This unfairly brings into target those persons who are suffering from disability problems, tearing away their families badly.
Adrienne Smith, the Toronto-area immigration lawyer and the former Immigration Canada policy analyst said that he really appreciates that the minister has considered the repeal seriously.
Hussen also said that his office is planning to consider various options because the government looks forward in changing the law which can save around 135 million dollars over the next 5 years period in terms of medical expenses, represent only just .1 percent of the overall territorial and provincial health spending.
The changes include triple or double the expenses of the threshold which were used to deny the applicants. Again, changes made in groups also exempted from the provision and redefine the services which were considered for applicants when conveying them as inadmissible.
Denying visa applications unnecessarily
As per Smith, the main reason why the department is just considering this section is, section 38 is really an unfair process. Currently, only refugees, as well as their family members, are just exempted from these provisions of excessive demand and medical inadmissibility.
Hussen also further added that these options lead to roughly 80 percent of the approval of all the applications that are denied presently under the existing rules and regulations. But Smith stated that if the law which is being presently followed is unfair, then simply changing it so that fewer people get discriminated won’t be enough to address all the issues identified by the minister. She also said that if a single person is caught in this grip of this excessive demand threshold and is treated in an unfair manner, then according to her, it is an unfair law to her completely.
Currently, an individual is considered inadmissible by the Immigration Canada if the social service or health cost needed for treating the medical condition or disability is more than $6,655 every year.
Global News investigation review
A serious concern has been raised previously by the Global News investigation regarding how the government of the country exactly calculates the given threshold that includes ignoring potentially the 40 billion dollars in annual social service expenditure while calculating per capita amount.
Michael MacKinnon is the senior manager who is responsible for the Immigration Canada’s health division and last month testified before the parliament committee that the Global News’ figures are not accurate as the costs like social assistance and social housing are not taken into account while assessing the medical inadmissibility, hence not included in the threshold of $6,655.
But the review done on the basis of the various discussion conducted by the Immigration Canada shows that few applicants have been simply denied for the permanent Canadian residency just due to disability-related social factors and housing problem.
For instance, in the 2013 Canada immigration denied the Sandra Ivonne Gonzalez Ortiz application who attempted to sponsor her brother Romeo who was 44 years old for permanent Canadian resident. But the application was not accepted by the government as he suffered from mental retardation and the expenses for the treating would be too high to afford in Canada.
What are the potential expenses?
The potential expenses which are listed by the Canada Immigration included attendant care, the Ontario Disability Support Program, nutrition programs, transportation for the doctor’s appointments, supportive housing, and assistance with housekeeping. When the Global News asked the Immigration Canada to enlist the contradictions between the decision in Ortiz’s denial and MacKinnon’s testimony, they failed to do so.
Supports from various parties
MPs of various parties agreed on the fact in front of the standing committee that the provision definitely needs to be eliminated or changed altogether. Liberal MP Nick Whalen stated this policy as “egregious” and even runs counter to the Canadians’ inclusive values.