RELEASE: CARL Calls for Elimination of Medical Inadmissibility Provisions

November 27, 2017
For Immediate Release

OTTAWA (November 27, 2017) – The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) calls on the Government of Canada to eliminate the legal ban on immigrants speculated to cause “excessive demand” on health and social services.

Over the past week, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has heard testimony from the organizations and individuals most familiar with and affected by this exclusionary policy, set out in s. 38(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Legal aid clinics, community groups, as well as medical and legal experts, agree that the provision is both ineffective and inhumane.

In his statement of November 22, 2017, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Ahmed Hussen, echoed this sentiment and made clear his belief the current policy is not in line with Canadian values.

CARL stated that under the medical inadmissibility provisions, potential immigrants are barred from Canada or denied permanent resident status due simply to the fact they or a family member are disabled or suffer from a medical condition that could cause “excessive demand” on the healthcare system. The policy applies equally to immigrants who have already been in Canada for years on valid work or study permits, as well as skilled immigrants who qualify to immigrate to Canada for the first time based on their merits.

CARL is aware of countless distressing cases of migrants whose immigration status has been threatened over the years. The cases span a broad range of circumstances, from a university professor whose youngest son has Down syndrome, to a live-in-caregiver who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis after years of working and caring for children in Canada, to a 14-year-old high school student who was found medically inadmissible because she is deaf.

“It is clear the law is discriminatory toward the most vulnerable groups and sends the message that Canada is unwelcoming to people who have disabilities and their families,” said Lobat Sadrehashemi, President of CARL. 

CARL maintains that the rule against allowing immigrants who are speculated to create “excessive demand” on the healthcare system violates Canada's international and humanitarian obligations, because it discriminates against individuals on the basis of disability.  Any savings estimate does not account for the economic benefit accrued from immigration, or the cost of administering the cumbersome and inefficient medical inadmissibility system. 

“We cannot continue to reject or remove otherwise productive immigrants simply because they or their children are sick or disabled. It is contrary to our basic principles of inclusivity and compassion,” said Aris Daghighian, executive member of CARL. 

CARL stated it hopes that the Committee’s review will allow an opportunity to replace the current provision with one that will protect public health and safety while upholding Canada’s fundamental values.  


For more information, please contact:

Lobat Sadrehashemi - - 604-374-4860

Aris Daghighian – – 416-737-6133