A temporary regulation on medical inadmissibility affecting those with physical impairments, chronic diseases, or a continuing need for social assistance has been made permanent by Canada’s federal immigration department.
The Temporary Public Policy Regarding Excessive Demand on Health and Social Services, which took effect on June 1, 2018, was declared permanent on March 17 by Ottawa.
The policy raised the existing cost barrier to three times the average Canadian per capita cost of health and social services, and also changed the definition of social services to exclude special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services, and personal support services.
For a foreign individual seeking permanent residency in Canada, the yearly cost barrier is $24,057 per person this year, or $120,285 over five years. This is the amount by which an applicant’s health and social services would be more expensive than the Canadian average.
Last year, the cost threshold was $21,798, more than three times the average cost of these services in Canada, which was $7,266. It increased by over 10% this year, reflecting three times the average cost of healthcare and social services in Canada, which is $8,019 per year. This sum, known as the yearly cost threshold, is used in Canada to establish whether or not a prospective immigrant would be a financial burden on Canadian taxpayers.
The greater the cost barrier, the more likely Canada is to include persons with impairments and cover all costs associated with necessary medical or psychiatric therapy. The value of the excessive demand cost threshold is adjusted every year based on federal, provincial, and territory governments’ health spending per capita, as stated in the Canadian Institute for Health Information’s annual National Health Expenditure Trends report.
Ottawa confirmed what had been a temporary policy by amending the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (Excessive Demand), which were issued on March 16, 2022. These adjustments achieve a balance between integrating newcomers into Canadian society through a fair and humane immigration system and safeguarding publicly financed health and social services.
When Canada raised its cost barrier, it permitted 85 per cent of applications to be granted under the new policy that would have been denied under the old definition of high demand. The following expenditures are taken into account when calculating an applicant’s potential social service and healthcare needs:
- home care by a nurse, physiotherapist, respiratory therapist, or another care provider;
- palliative care;
- psychological counselling;
- medical aids, appliances and prostheses;
- residential facilities, including long-term care and substance abuse services;
- day facilities providing constant supervision, for example, respite care;
- physician services;
- nursing services;
- laboratory and diagnostic services;
- pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical services;
- hospital services;
- chemotherapy and radiotherapy;
- supplies related to these services, and;
- psychiatric services
Even though the cost barrier for excessive demand may not receive as much attention in public conversations about immigration as an applicant’s job experience, education, or financial resources, it is a crucial issue that can prevent an immigration application from being approved.
Mehdi Oussama Belhadj Hassine, a 27-year-old foreign student who graduated from the University of Prince Edward Island, sought therapy for his schizophrenia after suffering a psychotic crisis in July of last year. He had previously filed for a Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) and was said to have applied for refugee status in Canada at the time.
“Mehdi was taken to the hospital to receive mental health care,” Lee Cohen, the lawyer representing the young man, reportedly told the Toronto Star.
“He was admitted involuntarily. And while he was there, under the protection of the people who were supposed to treat him and care for him, they facilitated the arrival of the Canada Border Services Agency.”
Officials from the border office found that Belhadj, who was born in Saudi Arabia, was in bad condition and suggested that he be deported. Belhadj’s lawyer and the Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour United for Strength, Home, and Relationship, a Prince Edward Island-based group, intervened on his behalf.
There are various exceptions to Canada’s medical inadmissibility regulation, most notably for humanitarian and compassionate reasons.
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