Wanted: A healthy system to assess medical inadmissibility

  • November 28, 2017

Protecting the integrity of the health-care system is an important factor to consider in Canada’s immigration program, but the focus can’t be on keeping applicants with medical conditions out, says the CBA’s Immigration Law Section.

In its most recent submission the Section comments on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s priorities and processes with respect to medical inadmissibility of immigrants. (Need link when ready)

“A medical inadmissibility finding has a serious consequence, barring entry to Canada for foreign nationals, ranging from family class applicants to temporary workers and economic migrants. It can hinder family reunification and have significant consequences for Canadian businesses. However a decision made in error could also lead to the admission of individuals whose medical conditions result in excessive demands on Canadian health and social services.”

IRCC’s processes could be “significantly improved” without significantly overhauling the program, the Act or the Regulations, the Section says, offering up 12 recommendations for doing so, including:

  • Focused and coordinated training for IRCC and the Canadian Border Services Agency officers to explain case law around excessive demand  and the respective decision-making functions;
  • Plain language in Procedural Fairness Letters to give clear instructions to applicants, including which services are public and which can be obtained privately.
  • More information on IRCC websites about excessive demand assessments, and the information they require.

A number of the recommendations deal with the threshold for excessive demand – the Section suggests the figures and formulas used to set the threshold should be transparent; that the threshold be better aligned with health and social service costs; and that provincial and territorial stakeholders be more involved in setting it.

The Section says there is a need for a comprehensive study of health and social service costs, as well as the impact on waiting lists, rate of mortality and morbidity, to support policy decisions on the threshold for medical inadmissibility.

It also suggests launching a pilot program to collect data on compliance with mitigation plans to find out whether non-compliance is an issue.

“The CBA Section supports IRCC’s efforts to streamline the excessive demand process, while maintaining inclusiveness and individualized assessments,” the Section says. “Any review of this process must balance the need to protect public health and the integrity of the Canadian health care system with the legitimate needs of migrants in a manner that is consistent with Canadian Charter values and international human rights standards.”

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