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Disability and Immigration Rights Groups Call on Immigration Minister to Do the Right Thing

April 11, 2018

Toronto -- Migrant Caregivers, disability rights, HIV and human rights, and immigration rights advocates are calling on Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen to do the right thing: repeal sections of the Immigration Act that deny permanent residency to an entire family if a member of the family is sick or has a disability and deemed to pose an ‘excessive demand’ on health and social services.

A parliamentary committee recently called on the Minister to repeal Section 38(1)(c); the federal government has until April 12 of this year to announce its decision.

“Medical inadmissibility is devastating to me and my family, I feel like all my sacrifices are for no reason and my family is just suffering, we need to be reunited with our families,” says Caregivers Action Centre member Rhodora Reyes, who came to Canada under the Live-In Caregiver Program and was deemed inadmissible because her son is on the Autism spectrum. “We have suffered for too long, we have waited for too long, it’s past the time to end this injustice.”

While framed as a financial issue for the government, according to the parliamentary Standing committee on Citizenship and Immigration which recommended the repeal of the law, “actual savings [from this law] are not known and were not provided to the Committee.” In addition, the committee noted that Canada “does not consider the economic benefit of having the family in Canada as permanent residents and the contribution to the economy that would be lost should the family be denied.”

“The misguided “excessive demand’ regime discriminates against people based on something they cannot change: their health status,” says Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. “As an immigrant to Canada, I find this law shameful. Today, it must be relegated to the dustbin of history.”

Over a thousand people and their families are excluded from Canada each year because of this section of the law. “This regime makes very little sense, right now the government will give humanitarian and compassionate leave on one hand, and they will turn around and say we cannot allow you to be a permanent resident because you have a medical condition,” says Shalini Konanur, Executive Director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario.

“The continued presence of this clause flies in the face of Canada’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Minister Hussen has the chance right now to bring Canada in line with its international commitments and repeal this section,” says John Rae, 1st Vice Chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities.

For comments:

- Anna Malla, Coordinator, Caregivers Action Centre, 647-782-6633

- James Hicks, National Coordinator, Council of Canadians With Disabilities, 343-291-1118

- John Rae, 1st Vice Chair, Council of Canadians With Disabilities, 416-941-1547

- Joshua Terry, Communications and Campaigns Officer, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, 416 595-1666 ext. 236

For more information contact:
Anna Malla
Caregivers Action Centre
Phone: 647-782-6633

James Hicks
National Coordinator
Council of Canadians With Disabilities
Phone: 343-291-1118

John Rae
1st Vice Chair
Council of Canadians With Disabilities
Phone: 416-941-1547

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