Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the “Act”), foreign nationals seeking to enter Canada either temporarily or permanently may be found medically inadmissible if they have a health condition that “might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.”
This policy means that immigrants with certain mental health or physical health conditions could be excluded from Canada based on the increased demand they would place on federal and provincial services. However, there have been concerns that the existing regulations unfairly screened people out who would be able to make an economic and social contribution to the country. In response, the federal government is now set to relax these regulations, as described below.
Excessive demand under the Act is a calculation that is linked to the average health and social services costs per capita. The cost threshold is updated yearly as a result of the year-over-year changes to the costs of individual services. In 2020, the cost threshold was set at $21,204.
The aim of having a cost threshold for migrants is to reduce the impact associated with migration on the health and social services programs within Canada. The implication of the cost threshold is that it can potentially prevent immigrants with serious mental or physical health problems from coming to Canada that could place undue strain on the system.
The cost threshold has been the subject of debate in the past few years, as a parliamentary immigration committee found in 2017 that the rule should be repealed because it was not in line with Canadian values of inclusion. This study may have prompted the Canadian Government to make temporary changes to the threshold in 2018 when the threshold number was effectively tripled, and certain policy changes were made while working with the provinces and territories. The policy changes allowed for 62 applicants who previously would have been denied entry to Canada to come to Canada and make economic contributions.
Now in 2021, the proposed changes in the Act will make it easier for immigrants to come to Canada. The first change will make the cost threshold for foreign nationals seeking to come to Canada three times the Canadian average cost per person, a significant increase over the $21,204 figure from 2020. The new regulation should strike a more appropriate balance between protecting health services and promoting inclusion.
Another change will be redefining what “health and social services” mean under the Act in order to provide more clarity. Significantly, this change removes the reference to certain social services, such as special education, from the definition. This means that if someone is trying to immigrate to Canada and their child will require special education, that special education should not be considered as part of the new cost threshold calculation.
Lastly, there will be increased clarity as to who the officers are that are responsible for reviewing medical and non-medical information submitted by immigration applicants.
If you are planning to come to Canada and have submitted the requisite documents for a medical assessment, the IRCC is supposed to give you an answer as to your eligibility within 90 business days of receiving all the required documents. Overall, these changes should make it easier for immigrants to come to Canada.
Garson Immigration Law is a firm exclusively dedicated to the practice of immigration law. We will work to find an effective solution for your individual immigration needs and ensure you are positioned for success with respect to your application.
The immigration lawyers at Garson Immigration Law are continuing to monitor the immigration fallout in relation to COVID-19 on both sides of the border and will provide updates as the situation develops. If you have any questions about medical inadmissibility or how the changing regulations might affect you, do not hesitate to reach out to us online or by calling us at 416-321-2860.