We are all created in the image of God. Jesus sought out people who lived with disabilities and marginalization in his society. We are called to care for people of all abilities.

The United Church is encouraged by the federal government’s recent efforts to address the medical inadmissibility policy in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), making it somewhat more inclusive of people with disabilities or medical challenges.

Under Canada’s IRPA, however, many applicants (and/or their families) can be denied permanent residency if one is sick or has a disability. For example, the IRPA still excludes newcomers who may pose an “excessive demand” on health and social services, although the cost threshold of what constitutes excessive demand has recently been raised.

This is movement in the right direction, but it does not go far enough. The policy still disadvantages people with disabilities when assessing their applications as newcomers to Canada. It views those with disabilities as a burden to Canada's social systems and disregards their potential value to our communities.

Take Action

  1. Write to Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship and your member of Parliament. Urge the federal government to make the IRPA more inclusive of people with disabilities, bringing it in line with Canada’s domestic and international human rights obligations. You can find your MP’s e-mail or postal address by entering your postal code on the Parliament of Canada website. (Feel free to use the letter starter available under Downloads, below.)
  2. Share this action with your networks, using the hashtags #UCCan, #CdnImm, #CdnPoli, #CdnHealth. On Twitter, tag @JusticeUCC, @AhmedDHussen @CitImmCanada, and your member of Parliament.

For more information, contact:

Adele HallidayTeam Leader Discipleship and Witness416-231-7680 ext. 2756
1-800-268-3781 ext. 2756
ahalliday [at] united-church.ca

Khwaka KukuboRefugee Program Advisor416-231-7680 ext. 4068
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4068
kkukubo [at] united-church.ca

Christie NeufeldtProgram Coordinator Public Witness416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078
cneufeldt [at] united-church.ca


People with disabilities are seen as a burden who make an “excessive demand” on Canada’s social and health services; however, in 2015, the federal government noted that the savings to provinces and territories due to the medical inadmissibility policy represented just 0.1% of all publicly funded health spending in Canada.

The current IRPA conflicts with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms—the Charter guarantees people with disabilities liberty of movement and freedom to choose their residence and nationality on an equal basis with others. The medical inadmissibility policy also does not fulfill Canada’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Canada’s own Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has recommended eliminating the medical inadmissibility section of the IRPA entirely and designing a fully inclusive immigration system.