Saturday, February 3, 2007

Immigration Canada Must Allow Families to Enter Country

Immigration Canada tried to block two families that each has a child with an intellectual disability from immigrating to the country. It refused their permanent residency applications on the grounds that the children might cause “excessive demands” on social services.

Fortunately, the justices of the Supreme Court of Canada did not agree. On October 21, they rendered their decision in two cases, the Hilewitz and de Jong cases, which were on appeal from the Federal Court of Appeal (FCA). The families appealed the decisions of the FCA that a medical officer is not required to consider the family’s personal circumstances, including a family’s ability to provide disability supports, in making recommendations about their immigration to Canada.

The decision is a victory for persons with disabilities and their families. Justice Rosie Abella noted that Canadian immigration policy has applied “exclusionary euphemistic designations” that concealed prejudices about persons with disabilities. The Court directed that Immigration Canada should conduct individualized assessments of a family’s immigration application and immigration officials should consider the resources, time, personal and financial supports, as well as community supports, that families are able and willing to provide.

ARCH represented the Canadian Association of Community Living (CACL) and Ethno-Racial People With Disabilities Coalition of Ontario (ERDCO) before the Supreme Court of Canada in both cases. The CACL and ERDCO intervened in order to draw the court’s attention to the fact that people with disabilities are denied admission to Canada based on negative stereotypes.


linda said...

We presently have friends from the UK (who's youngest daughter is mentally challenged) who have applied for business visas and have been approved. Unfortunately as they entered nova scotia where they already own a house they were stopped at customs and told by a young official they could not enter because "we don't all people like her to enter the country". They were eventually allowed in but have been pursued by this immigration official and have been told they must leave. This is a family who have half a million to invest in a business that would provide 30 jobs. They were both former police officers and fell in love with Nova Scotia. They now feel it would be difficult to stay after the discrimination shown to their daughter but would stay if they new they could permanent residency. Even then the thought that one young official has the power to make such important decisions appalls them. Any suggestions as to possible approaches?

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