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Feds to hike threshold for medical inadmissibility, more can qualify for Canadian residency

Monday, April 16, 2018 @ 11:44 AM | By Carolyn Gruske

Upcoming changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, will likely permit more applicants for permanent and temporary residence to be approved, even if they have serious health conditions that would have formerly rendered them inadmissible.

According to the federal government, approximately 1,000 applicants per year are denied residency in Canada due to a medical inadmissibility finding, with between 200 and 300 cases relating to children who require special education services. The ruling of medical inadmissibility occurs when it is determined that the cost of treating a health condition may adversely affect health or social services.

The threshold for determining inadmissibility has been a monetary one, not a medical one. The government says “no health condition leads to automatic inadmissibility.” Instead, if treatment would cost social services more than $6,655 per year and more than $33,275 over five years (at the 2017 thresholds), then the finding of medical inadmissibility would likely be applied.

(Some classes of residency applicants are exempt from medical inadmissibility regulations, including refugees and some members of the family class, specifically spouses, common law partners and dependent children.)

Under the proposed changes, the monetary threshold will be raised to three times higher than the current limit (so based on the 2017 figures, The Lawyer's Daily calculates the upper limit would be $19,965 over the course of one year).

Additionally, the definition of social services will be changed to remove references to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services and personal support services.

In an announcement explaining the changes, the government posited, “It is expected that this would dispense with a majority of the medical inadmissibility cases seen in Canada today.”

For example, the government suggests that those immigrants 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.”

Along with the changes to monetary limits, the government has planned some administrative changes as well to support this policy update. All decisions regarding medical inadmissibility will now be centralized in one office. There will also be a plain-language review of departmental procedures and products, to ensure the updates are clearly explained, and the government will undertake training of decision-makers and medical officers to support the changes.

“While there is always more work to do, this policy is an important next step for full inclusion of people with disabilities. Today’s changes are long overdue and ensure more families are welcome in Canada,” said Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Kirsty Duncan.