Citizenship and Immigration Canada has informed a professor at Toronto’s York University that he and his entire family may be denied permanent residency, because his son has Down syndrome. According to a report from CTV News, Professor Felipe Montoya and his family have been informed that their application for permanent residency renders them all inadmissible to Canada, because of rules concerning a potential burden on Canada’s healthcare system.
The “Excessive Demand” provision of Canada’s immigration policy has been controversial for a long time. Under paragraph 16(2)(b) of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, potential immigrants must submit to a medical examination, and may be denied residency if it is determined that their anticipated healthcare costs will exceed average Canadian healthcare and social services costs over a period of five years, or 10 years if there is evidence that significant costs are likely to be incurred.
The Act also gives provisions to deny anyone who would add to Canadian medical care wait times, or decrease the health of other citizens and permanent residents as a result of such.
Unsurprisingly, many who managed to survive outside of the country for years, question this provision, and its broad wording — Montoya among them, noting that he and his wife have been among those Canadian taxpayers since entering the country four years ago.
“We consider it to be in contradiction to the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] for many reasons, and we think that it’s based on outdated views of so-called disabilities and that it needs to be looked at again and brought up to date.”
Three years ago, Montoya and his family moved to Canada when he accepted an offer of professorship from York University; he continues to be employed there full-time as a tenured professor of environmental studies, a position which does not pay poorly. Three years ago, he filed an application of permanent residency for himself and his family, including himself, his wife, and their two children.
He disclosed at the time that his now-13-year-old son Nicolas had Down syndrome, and submitted to the required medical examination, in which Nicolas and the rest of the family were given a clean bill of health.
But a letter from the CIC shattered his hopes that his son would be accepted.
“I have determined that your family member Nicolas Montoya is a person whose health condition might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on social services in Canada. An excessive demand is a demand for which the anticipated costs exceed the average Canadian per capita health and social services costs, which is currently set at $6,387.”
The letter goes on to reference reports indicating that Nicolas functions at the level of a 3-year-old, and estimates that special education for him would cost between $20,000 and $25,000 CAD (roughly $15,000 – $19,000 USD) per year. Montoya takes issue with the figure, particularly given that the CIC gave no indication of how it arrived at that number — and that Nicolas is currently in a public school which is making no special accommodations for him, and allegedly doing fine.
“There were no extra provisions for him. He joined a classroom just like my daughter did. My daughter is not deemed inadmissible because of her use of state services, yet Nico is.”
And according to a report from CBC, while the Montoya family is being forced to leave the country in June, they have promised to continue fighting what they call medieval and barbaric legislation, because they want to help other families in their situation.
“Our fight is more of a matter of principle. You have people who are deemed inadmissible because they may cost the state.
“[Nicolas] was singled out solely because of his genetic identity. The only difference is he has a genetic condition that makes him different.”
Montoya and his wife have promised not to stop fighting until the law is removed from the books.
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]