Changes to Medical Inadmissibility Policy

Backgrounder

Every year, approximately 1,000 applicants for permanent and temporary residence in Canada receive a medical inadmissibility finding. It is determined that their health condition may adversely affect health or social services, and this may lead to them being found to be medically inadmissible. About 200 to 300 cases relate to special education services for children.

No health condition leads to automatic inadmissibility. Applicants may be found inadmissible if the services required to treat their health condition or that of an accompanying dependent is anticipated to cost more than the annual cost threshold, which, for 2017, is $6,655 per year and $33,275 over 5 years.

There are exemptions for certain applicant categories, including refugees and some members of the family class, specifically spouses, common-law partners and dependent children. In addition, not all temporary residents are eligible for health and social services funded by provinces and territories, so only some temporary residents are assessed for medical inadmissibility. The medical inadmissibility provisions mostly affect the economic class.

Since 2016, the Government of Canada has been reviewing all elements of the medical inadmissibility provisions. This included discussing possible policy changes with the provinces and territories at the Forum of Ministers Responsible for Immigration in September 2017. Dialogue with the provinces and territories will continue in the coming months. 

The upcoming policy changes (the removal of certain social services, such as special education, and an increase in the cost threshold) address the issue of inclusion, as they would mean that most people with disabilities would no longer be inadmissible.

By tripling the cost threshold, many applicants, particularly those 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.

To improve client service and enhance transparency, a number of measures will be implemented. These include the following:

  • centralization of medical inadmissibility applications to 1 office in Canada for greater consistency and efficiency in decision-making
  • plain-language review and revamp of departmental procedures and products to facilitate the application process and ensure clear communication with clients
  • ongoing training of decision makers and medical officers to support these changes

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