Canada Immigration: Syrian Refugees Are Welcome But Children With Down Syndrome Are Not

The United Nations has praised Canada for its progressive Syrian refugee efforts, noting that the country is allowing 44,000 refugees from various countries to settle there by the end of the year. Despite the touted “humanitarian” nation’s efforts with Syrian refugee resettlement, an Ontario professor says they haven’t been so open to his family despite the fact that he is a tenured professor at Toronto’s York University and has been living in the country with no incident for years.

The professor says he has been paying in taxes for the past four years and lived in Canada with his family of four. However, he is now facing the fact that his family may be forced to move back to Costa Rica as their application for permanent residency has been denied due to the fact his son has Down syndrome and would place an unnecessary “financial burden” on the country’s health system.

Global News reports that York University’s professor of environmental studies, Felipe Montoya, has been denied permanent citizenship in Canada due to the fact he has a child with Down syndrome. The nation touted as “progressive” for allowing 44,000 refugees to settle in the country has told the Montoya family that their 13-year-old son would be too heavy of a burden on their medical system financially.

Canada has laws on the books that prevents individuals with disabilities or those with anticipated above-average medical expense needs from receiving permanent citizenship. However, the law doesn’t just apply to the individual with the disability but the entire family applying for application with the disabled individual.

In fact, Toronto immigration lawyer Henry Chang notes that just having a person in your family with a medical condition can bar a whole family from Canadian residency.

“Let’s say you have a child who’s in university in the United States who isn’t going to be immigrating to Canada with the rest of the family, but they have cancer and they’re having treatment right now. That could theoretically result in a whole family being barred for medical grounds. It sounds crazy. If you’re not an immigration lawyer, there’s no logic to this.”

In the case of Professor Felipe Montoya, he notes that he has been living in the country for years and paying taxes just like every Canadian citizen. He notes that he is tenured at York University and guaranteed continued employment in the country upon receiving permanent residency. Additionally, he says that his son has lived with him the entire time and has not been an excessive burden on the Canadian health system and has not used any more services than his sister who does not have a disability.

“There’s no facts that establish that he will cost the state anything. The only fact I imagine that they are basing it on is this idea … that Down Syndrome people are all sick and require intensive care. This is a stigma, and it’s not based on the individual case.”

He says that Canadian immigration officials also note that education costs will be higher for the child due to the fact he needs special education services. However, Montoya says that claim is not true, as his son’s school already had a program in place for special needs children. He entered the classroom in the same manner as their daughter without a disability.

“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.”

The issue came to light when Montoya received a letter from Canadian immigration officials noting they were being denied due to the fact their son with Down syndrome, Nico, would need to use too many state services and be a financial burden on the country.

“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.”

While the Montoya family prepares to return to Costa Rica because their son’s Down syndrome would place a “financial burden” on Canada, 44,000 refugee families are being welcomed publicly into the country in a bid to show the world what a “civil society” looks like.

[Photo by Raad Adayleh/AP]