'It's good for Canada': Manitoba dad says new immigration rules remove barrier his family faced

'It's good for Canada': Manitoba dad says new immigration rules remove barrier his family faced

A Manitoba dad who fought to stay in Canada after being denied because of his daughter’s special needs says he’s thrilled that in future, families won’t face the same battle under new immigration rules.

“I think it’s going to make a difference for families. In the long run, I think it’s good for Canada,” said Jon Warketin. “I think that’s a really good thing.”

Warkentin and his family of six moved to Canada from Colorado in 2013 and have built lives and a business in Waterhen, Man., about 275 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.

A year after the move, Warkentin’s youngest daughter, Karalynn, then two, was diagnosed with epilepsy and global developmental delay.

Last April, the family got a letter from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada informing them their application for permanent residency had been denied and the family deemed medically inadmissible, because Karalynn’s health condition could cause “excessive demand” on health or social services.

The family appealed the decision, and in December, the rejection was reversed and they were allowed to stay.

On Monday, Warkentin spoke to the government again, this time to hear details of changes to the immigration rule — the 40-year-old medical inadmissibility policy — announced by Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen the same day.

“Mostly I’m just happy for the next people, the next families that come, that may have an entire family that’s excited and willing and able to contribute a lot to Canada and they may have one child who has a small problem like Kara, and they won’t have to go through this giant battle to be able to come to Canada,” Warkentin said.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen announced changes on Monday. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Under the old rules, admissibility was based on whether newcomers’ costs were expected to exceed the average Canadian per capita cost of health or social services over a five-year period, or whether the immigrant could add to an existing waiting list and delay health care for Canadian citizens or permanent residents.

The new policy will increase the threshold to $20,000 per year, roughly three times the average cost. Newcomers also won’t be denied permanent residency if they or any of their children have developmental delays, special education requirements, or a hearing or visual impairment.

Hussen estimated the change will allow entry to about 75 per cent of the approximately 1,000 people previously rejected on medical grounds for “excessive demand,” and said the government is embarking on more study and consultation to eventually eliminate the medical inadmissibility criteria entirely.

Warkentin said assessing his family based solely on medical costs of one child takes too narrow a view of everything they could contribute.

“They’re just making it a little bit easier.”

Published at Tue, 17 Apr 2018 11:15:35 -0400