Canada makes big changes to medical inadmissibility policy for Permanent Residency applicants


The Government of Canada, through its immigration agency Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) announced changes to the way immigration applications are processed to better include persons with disabilities.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said that the changes were made to ensure that policies are better aligned “with Canadian values and reflect the importance that the Government places on the inclusion of persons with disabilities.”

Minister Hussen said that the changes to the old policy would bring Canadian immigration into the 21st century. While the number of those previously affected were never high in the first place, the changes now assure that decisions made moving forward would be based on the new criteria.

The changes made to the medical inadmissibility policy strikes a balance between safeguarding the publicly funded healthcare system and being more inclusive for people with disabilities.

Some of the changes made are as follows:

  • Cost threshold increased 3x from previous level.
  • Amended definition of “social services” by removing references to special education, social, vocational rehabilitation & personal support services.

The biggest change to the immigration policy is the increase in cost threshold. Previously, applicants with health conditions were considered if they only required limited health and social services, and that these services would be limited in cost.

IRCC expects that these changes would eliminate a majority of medical inadmissibility cases currently on file.

The changes made in regards to social services will align the immigration policies with Canadian values that support the inclusion of people with disabilities, at the same time safeguarding the provincially-funded health care systems. The changes will also benefit those with developmental disabilities.

IRCC has been holding roundtable and town hall discussions with stakeholders as well as conduction policy reviews with provincial governments since 2016.

Minister Hussen released this statement: “The changes we are announcing today are a major step forward in ensuring our immigration system is more inclusive of persons with disabilities, and reflects the values of Canadians.”

Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, also added: “While there is always more work to do, this policy is an important next step for full inclusion of people with disabilities. Today’s changes are long overdue and ensure more families are welcome in Canada.”

There are more than 1,000 applicants who are denied Permanent Residency because of medical inadmissibility. IRCC said that this number represents less than 0.2 % of applicants who undergo medical screening.

It was found that the savings to provincial governments based on the rejection of applicants based on medical inadmissibility was less than 0.1% of health spending in the entire Canada.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) now provides exemptions from the medical inadmissibility provision to the following: family class sponsored spouses, common-law partners or conjugal partners, dependent children, Convention refugees or persons in similar circumstances, and protected persons.

Read more about it at the official Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website at

You can also send them an email using this link.

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