OTTAWA – In order to repeal an existing law in Canada’s Immigration Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), NDP Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Critic, Jenny Kwan, is tabling a private member’s bill to remove the discriminatory clause. As it stands, Section 38(1) (c) of the Act discriminates against people with disabilities by allowing for the rejection of an entire family of applicants if one individual has a disability or medical condition.

“Enough is enough. The untold pain and suffering families have to endure when immigrating to Canada needs to stop,” said Kwan. “The government has been running consultations on the matter since October 2016. It’s now 2018, and the Minister has yet to take any steps in addressing an issue that is continuing to tear families apart.”

Section 38(1) (c) of the IRPA has been explicitly and repeatedly recognized by parliamentarians and committee witnesses as a policy enabling discrimination against individuals with disabilities. Families can be rejected if one individual has a disability or medical condition that officials believe could put “excessive demand” on Canada’s health and/or social services. This continues to be in place even though officials have confirmed that the “benefits” of the “cost-benefit” analysis are not in fact considered in this assessment. 

“The Minister of Immigration admitted that Section 38(1) (c) of IRPA goes against Canada’s stated values on inclusion and the ideals we purportedly uphold as Canadians,” added Kwan. “Why is he not taking urgent action to end this discriminatory practice?  How many more heart wrenching stories do we need to hear before the Minister acts?” 

Melissa’s permanent resident application was rejected because her son, Robert, has Downs Syndrome. It was rejected even though medical assessments state that Robert is capable of taking care of himself and is able to work in an unskilled or semiskilled position. Melissa is a single mother who has been separated from her children for nearly a decade while she takes care of other people’s children. She explained, “I always thought Canada did not discriminate against people because they are different. I thought Canada had protections for people who are different.”

“Do the lives of families like Melissa’s not matter?  What is happening is unconscionable. The Minister needs to see beyond the disability and must value the contributions of the entire family to Canadian society,” said Kwan. “There is no justification for this harmful discriminatory law to continue to be used. It is time to repeal Section 38(1) (c).”

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