Immigration Corner | Medical inadmissibility and excessive demand | News

Dear Miss Powell,

I completed my studies in Canada and started working in my dream job. However, I was just diagnosed with cancer and my world has turned upside down. I wanted to apply for permanent residence, but my sister said that I may not get through, as they will say I will be putting too much demand on the medical system. What does that mean? Is this the end of my life? What about the valuable contribution I can make to the society, if I recover? What can I do? Should I even bother applying under the Express Entry System? I used up my life savings to come to Canada to study. My sister and other family members are here and so I would want to stay here. I’m very distraught by this and not sure what to do. Please help.


Dear OT,

I am very sorry to hear about your medical condition. I know this must be devastating news to you and your family. You did not say what type of cancer, but I want you to know that this is not the end of your life. Many individuals have conquered cancer and go on to live very productive lives. So do not think this is the end of your life. Let me first explain the law as it relates to medical inadmissibility and the term excessive demand.

Medical Inadmissibility

All applicants for permanent residence will need to establish that they will not pose an excessive demand on health or social services in Canada. Each applicant will be required to do various medical tests and checks with an approved medical practitioner as apart of the application process. The doctor is required to submit a report to the Immigration Department which will detail the medical risks, if any, of granting you permanent residence status in Canada.

An officer will review the results and decide if an individual is deemed medically inadmissible for permanent residence of Canada in accordance with the laws.

The Immigration, Refugee and Protection Act (IRPA) provides that a foreign national is inadmissible on health grounds if their health condition is likely to be a danger to public health; is likely to be a danger to public safety; or might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.

Excessive Demand

A finding of ‘excessive demand’ usually results in a finding that the individual is ‘medically inadmissible’. However, the law also says that the ‘excessive demand’ barrier is not applicable in the case of a foreign national who is exempt from these provisions. The persons that would be exempted are individuals who are deemed to be a spouse, common-law partner, child of a sponsor, a refugee or a protected person.

The term excessive demand on health and social services is define in the IRPA Regulations as a demand for care for which the anticipated cost would exceed the average Canadian per capita health services cost over a period of five consecutive years from the date of the person’s most recent immigration medical examination. It also applies to ‘a demand on health services or social services that would add to existing waiting lists and would increase the rate of mortality and morbidity in Canada as a result of an inability to provide timely services to Canadian citizens or permanent residents’.

Unfortunately, the immigration officer will not be looking at the contributions that an individual is expected to make to Canada are not generally considered when an application is initially submitted for permanent residence under the express entry system. The express entry system manages the Federal Skilled Worker Programme, The Federal Skilled Trade Programme, The Canadian Experienced Class and some Provincial Nominee Programmes.

If you can satisfy all the other requirements based on your age, language, education, work experience and other factors, you should apply for permanent residence status. The application process takes an average of six months to a year to be completed.

In the meantime, continue your medical treatments and consult a lawyer directly to discuss the best strategy for you and your family, based on the detail facts of your case. There may be more options available to you than you realise. Chin up! Stay positive!

Deidre S. Powell is an international lawyer, mediator and notary public with office in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Submit your questions via email: [email protected]. Subject line: Immigration. Find her on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and twitter. Book your telephone/skype meeting via her website at

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