Families with Disabled Members Claim Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Uses Vague Claims to Deny their Applications
According to a recent article from Global News, many families have had their applications for permanent resident status denied unfairly due to a disability.
The reason for the denial will often be “excessive demand” on Canada’s social services and healthcare system. This rationale can be employed for some types of applications if Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada believes that the applicants or any other close family members have a condition that would cost too much to treat, even if those family members have no intention of coming to Canada. The current threshold is $6,655 annually in medical or social services combined.
In cases where the immigration department denies a case for this reason, immigration officers must first send out a “fairness letter” to applicants, explaining the reasons their claims could be denied. This is a legal obligation.
Often, these families can afford the costs of care for their children’s disabilities, but haven’t had a reasonable chance to prove it. The families profiled in the Global News article claim that the fairness letters are vague. Applicants can’t argue with the lack of information provided, resulting in the denial of their applications. The apparent omission of a seemingly simple task on the part of immigration officials is leading to life-changing decisions for many applicants and families seeking a better life in Canada.
Missing Information in Responses
Fairness letters must clearly outline the medical condition diagnosed by a medical examiner, the services needed for the condition, and the estimated costs of these services. Applicants then have a chance to respond to this letter and prove their case to gain permanent resident status. In their response, they would need to show proof that they have the necessary means to cover the costs of the services so as not to be a burden on Canada’s health care and social services system.
As straightforward as this may seem, some applicants allege immigration officers are actually not properly disclosing cost estimates. Instead, they provide general or vague lists of issues that applicants cannot properly address or argue. Without a cost estimate, applicants cannot prove their financial means cover the costs, which often results in a denied claim.
If such allegations are true, Canadian immigration officials are not giving applicants a chance. Instead of saying, “This is what the condition will cost; this is what you will have to cover; please provide proof that you can cover these costs,” these letters simply describe costs as excessive.
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen acknowledges that this approach may not align with Canadian values regarding the equal treatment of those with disabilities. In light of this issue, Hussen stated his department is working to improve the immigration process for all applicants.
The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) has also made recommendations to make the system fair to all applicants. The CBA recommendations include:
- A centralized review process with only experienced immigration officers handling complicated cases;
- Investment into up-to-date research;
- Provision of clearer guidelines to both the public and immigration officials; and
- Clarification of instructions and the distinct roles of both immigration officers and medical officers. This can prevent inconsistencies and promote effective decision making.
Denying immigration applicants due to their disabilities is unjust as is, but it is completely wrong and unfair when immigration officials don’t even tell applicants why the application might be denied or give them a fair chance to prove their cases. If families looking for a better life in Canada get turned away due to this simple omission, it must change.