Sign the letter: Our Lives are Not an “Excessive Demand”

Pencil drawing of a group of about 25 protesters in a line holding a banner that says "Access Denied." The protesters are a divers group, some standing and some sitting in wheelchairs. In the background several protestors are holding banners that say "End Austerity - Stop the" (the word cuts is obscured) and "Justice." Several protesters are also holding placards.

Remove Disablism from Canadian Immigration Rules Now

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The Honourable Ahmed Hussan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Members of the Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration

As members and supporters of disabled, Deaf, mad, psychiatric consumer/survivor, and disability-labeled communities, we call on the Federal Government to immediately remove the “excessive demand” clause and other disablist regulations from the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and to ensure the fair treatment of migrant workers and their family members who have been impacted by them.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claims “we cannot rest until persons with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else,” section 38(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act excludes disabled people, including people living with HIV, and some trans people, from Canada. Section 38(1)(c) allows for an applicant to be rejected by providing the basis to reject an  applicant if they or their family member “might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.”

The “excessive demand” clause prevents  disabled people from immigrating to Canada, and denies citizenship to people who have become disabled while working in Canada as part of federal temporary work schemes.

The “excessive demand” clause shuts out migrants and immigrants who have lived and worked in Canada for many years if they or one of their dependents are disabled.

The “excessive demand” clause constructs disabled people only in negative terms – solely as a drain on resources. It erases the valuable contributions of disabled people to their communities.

The “excessive demand” clause increases the vulnerability and exploitation of low-waged migrant workers who become sick or injured because of sub-standard work conditions in Canada, These workers are then denied permanent status based on their injuries.

Migrant workers who have come to Canada through federal schemes such as the Caregiver or the Live-In Caregiver Program (CP), Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), or Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP)  cannot change workplaces without losing their work permits, which means they cannot easily refuse dangerous or unsafe work, forcing them to risk illness or serious injury.

Caregivers are the only group of low-waged migrant workers with a Federal pathway to permanent residency after a period of working in Canada. However, if they become ill or injured during the qualification period, they can be excluded under the “excessive demand clause”. Caregivers won protections against this initially under the Juana Tejada law in 2010, but these were reneged in 2014. The “excessive demand” clause also means that caregivers with sick or disabled children or partners cannot become permanent residents. The CP also discriminates against caregivers with disabilities by requiring a medical exam before getting permit.

The Charter guarantees equality before and under the law and the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, including on the basis of disability. Section 38 (1)(c) specifically violates the Charter.

The House of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Citizenship is currently holding hearings on Medical Inadmissibility (“excessive demand”).

We demand that the Canadian Government immediately:

  1. Remove the “excessive demand” clause Section 38(1)(c) from the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
  2. Immediately grant permanent residency to everyone who was denied permanent residency on disability grounds in the last 10 years.

Ultimately, we demand that the Canadian government eliminate all disablist policies and regulations and ensure permanent immigration status for all, including permanent residency on arrival for migrant workers.

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