After 40 years, federal government ending barriers to disabled immigrants

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Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Ahmed Hussen makes an announcement on medical inadmissibility in the Foyer of the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, April 16, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The federal government is eliminating a long-standing rule that turned away would-be immigrants to Canada who have intellectual or physical disabilities.

Immigration Minister Ahmen Hussen announced the change today — the first in 40 years to the federal medical inadmissibility rules, which allowed the government to reject permanent resident applications from those with serious health conditions or disabilities.

Hussen says the majority of those impacted by the policy have been economic immigrants who were already working and creating jobs in Canada, but whose children or spouses with an applicable condition.

The changes announced today will allow all applicants and and their families to remain in Canada, regardless of disabilities.

In addition, says Hussen, Ottawa is also increasing threefold the cost threshold at which an application for permanent residency can be denied on medical grounds.

He says the government is working towards repealing the policy entirely, but must first determine the impact such a change would have on provincial health and social services budgets.