The policy was instituted to reduce costs in the taxpayer-funded healthcare system, but the Trudeau Liberals say it’s not “inclusive.”
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says a 40-year-old policy – upheld by both Conservative and Liberal governments – that can reject immigrants who are sick and disabled, will be ended.
“From a principled perspective, the current excessive demand provision policy simply does not align with our country’s values of inclusion of person with disabilities in Canadian society,”said Hussen.
The policy generally restricts immigration of those who would be seen as costing the healthcare/social welfare system more than the average person over a 5-year period.
Some provinces are said to be understandably concerned about potentially higher health costs as a result of the change. The current policy is said to save taxpayers about $135 million.
There have been other concerns expressed, including qualified individuals who had applications rejected because of family members deemed inadmissible.
As noted in a recent report, “According to the rules around medical inadmissibility, a willingness or ability to pay is not a factor for services that are publicly funded like physician or hospital care, since there is no cost-recovery regime in place. However, it is a consideration in assessing an applicant who has financial means to defray costs of medication or services that are not publicly funded, such as HIV antiretroviral therapy.”
While the Trudeau government will certainly seem “nice” in the media for ending the policy, we need to ask about the underlying logic of why it has remained in place. After all, both Conservative and Liberal governments obviously saw merit in the policy, and kept it in place for a very long time.
The policy does have an important basis, as it makes clear that immigration should be a financial net benefit to a country, rather than adding to the strain on social programs.
Additionally, “inclusion” (a virtue-signalling word with a definition that changes depending on who says it) is not supposed to be the guiding principle behind immigration policy. Making Canada more prosperous by helping Canadian citizens is supposed to be the focus.
There may be ways to strengthen the policy, by making exceptions for individuals who are part of families already making a meaningful financial contribution to Canada. However, scrapping it entirely is not a wise idea.
This announcement by Hussen will raise further questions about why the government seems more concerned with non-citizens, than it does with directing resources towards the benefit of Canadians.
Photos – Twitter