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For Immediate Release: May 16, 2005, Calgary, Alberta
Topic: Immigration Diagnosis
Today the Canadian Down Syndrome Society, (CDSS), encourages all Canadians to ask their elected federal government officials how a diagnosis of Down syndrome in a child can prevent a family entering Canada. The residents of a northeast Saskatchewan town, Hudson Bay, are asking that question. They are doing this as they wait for more information about the Canadian bureaucratic review of a family's medical files related to immigration. This process is related to the entry to Canada of a doctor, Dr. Engelbrecht, who their physician recruitment committee had located to fill an urgent need for medical practitioners in that community.
The Hudson Bay, search committee members are anxious about the Immigration Canada decision to reject the application of the family that is headed by a physician willing to work in their community. In particular there is a concern that the daughter, who has Down syndrome, has been identified as medically inadmissible. The refusal is based on a Canadian sponsored medical review and projected Canadian health and social costs for this child, for her life to come. This review under the authority of Canadian officials was conducted in the originating country, South Africa, and the evaluation guidelines seek to note if " the person's condition would pose a danger to the public or if it would put excessive demand on the health-care system." In relation to such concerns, the local school administrators in Hudson Bay have indicated to the search committee that they were willing to accommodate the girl's educational needs.
An appeal on the application decision is underway and the government of Saskatchewan has a potential role in making the immigration a possibility. Five months has passed since Engelbrecht and the Hudson Bay committee has heard from the Canadian government about the family's immigration application.
The CDSS has an approved position statement on Immigration from November 2003, (see www.cdss.ca). This document identifies that "the Canadian Down Syndrome Society believes that all immigration applications should be considered respecting the dignity, worth and rights of all people regardless of disability or handicap and an understanding of the value of diversity in Canadian society".
Also a concern to the CDSS and a highlight of that position statement document is the fact that "..existing immigration rules along with the Department of Immigration's view of people with Down syndrome is antiquated, prejudicial and in direct contradiction of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
Contact to senior elected officials the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada on this matter of discrimination related to Down syndrome and reference to the Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan, case are encouraged.
Canadian Down Syndrome Society
Contact: Elizabeth Dolman, Executive Director