Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Canadian Immigration Rules

"It continues to impact real people, often in surprising cases."
"Maybe because it violates the various UN agreements to which Canada is signatory, or because it violates the Charter rights. Whatever the reason, it will be nice to see the morally repugnant scheme struck down."
Anonymous U.S. citizen, author of blog

"The act wisely provides a mechanism to ensure aspiring immigrants don't unduly burden the system, because that wouldn't be fair."
"The system is already overtaxed. All you need to do is walk into any emergency room and you see what the problem is. There are people in the corridors for hours on end."
Serio Karas, Canadian immigration lawyer, Toronto
A contentious 13-year-old section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act deems people “medically inadmissible” if their condition would trigger excessive medical or social costs in Canada.
Brent Foster/National Post   A contentious 13-year-old section of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act deems people “medically inadmissible” if their condition would trigger excessive medical or social costs in Canada.

Universal health care of which Canadians are justifiably proud and grateful that it exists, is hugely called upon by the existing population. There is a huge immigration pool, people from all over the world who emigrate to Canada in staggering numbers. Most years, Canada absorbs a quarter of a million people as permanent residents, aside from those smaller numbers that the country admits as refugees seeking a new life.

For years it has been difficult for people looking for family doctors to find a general practitioner willing to take on additional patients, since most are overloaded with patients and cannot absorb any more. Some foreign-trained doctors immigrating to Canada and taking Canadian-standard medical-practise exams are relieving some of the overburden, as are newly-accredited indigenous medical graduates.

But the network of hospitals across the provinces find the calls on their services increasingly difficult to cope with, and the expense to the taxpayer of the publicly-funded system is ever-increasing, the most costly element of taxpaid social services and groaning as well under the weight of the output required for pharmaceutical products as well, since there are provincial drug formularies that cover those costs for the hospitalized, medically institutionalized, elderly and those on welfare.

Canada has long exercised its options to accept applications for permanent residency when all family members have passed a medical examination declaring them free from chronic illnesses. If one family member is identified as having a severe disability or disease, the entire family is most often not then accepted into the country's immigration program.

Of one million permanent-resident applications filed yearly, roughly 20,000 are rejected, identified as medically inadmissible. Those include people whose health condition is considered a potential threat to public health or safety, but most represent those people who present as a challenge to the excessive-cost quandary, in that the treatment for their health services will represent an undue burden on the already heavily-tasked health care system.

A South African doctor, Asmeeta Burra, along with her husband who is an architect, had applied for permanent residency under the skilled-worker category for immigration. They planned to settle in British Columbia. Their son, however, is autistic and a medical assessment concluded the cost of special education for the child would come to about $16,000 annually, exceeding the annually adjusted average social and medical cost for Canadians: $6,300.

An immigration official found little merit in the parents' assurances that they are prepared to cover whatever cost would be entailed in special assistance their son might require in Canada. In South Africa, they pointed out, the boy attends an ordinary school, requiring intermittent assistance only from a private agency. Trouble is, there is something about universality of benefits; if they exist, everyone wants to benefit from them as is their due.

Dr. Burra made application to the Federal Court of Canada to overturn the decision that deemed her family inadmissible based on her son's condition. But Justice Cecil Strickland upheld the handling of the case by Citizenship and Immigration, pointing out that the remedial plan filed by the parents was not sufficiently detailed and in his opinion did not counter the excessive-cost issue adequately.

The lawyer hired by Dr. Burra commented that the situation emphases what he claims to be a problem in the immigration system. In that while the Government of Canada encourages people abroad to make applications without the aid of lawyers, the requirements laid before them, he feels, are difficult for lay people to fully understand. Which seems somewhat peculiar given that this couple is comprised of two people whose academic credentials include medicine and architecture.

If they have been able to master those demanding professions, is it conceivable that they might be incapable of properly reading standard immigration requirement processes and procedures? To his credit, however, their lawyer Mario Bellissimo, another immigration lawyer from Toronto, noted that "I think for the most part it [the immigration act] strikes a fair balance".

There are some families who have manged to put together a cogent and reassuring argument that they would be capable of, and prepared to deal themselves with any costs of additional medical or social services that one of their family member's needs might accrue in the process of health treatment. On those occasions they have succeeded in persuading Immigration to allow their applications to stand.

All very well for a citizen of the United States to comment derogatorily on Canadian immigration law, when he lives in a country that has no universal health care system, and a large segment of the population still will teeter on the edge of bankruptcy to pay for costly medical and hospital care if they are unable to pay for hugely expensive medical insurance premiums. A financial-catastrophe spectre that does not haunt Canadians.

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