Medical Inadmissibility: excessive demand on healthcare and social services

People applying for a Canadian permanent residency are required to undergo medical examinations. An applicant can be found inadmissible to Canada on medical grounds if his/her health condition or that of his/her family member (whether accompanying or not) might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on Canada’s health or social services. Under the Temporary Public Policy,  determinations are based on whether anticipated costs are expected to exceed three times the average Canadian per-capita health or social services costs over a five-year period, or if they could add to an existing waiting list that might delay care for Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Under the terms of the public policy, in 2019 the 3 times that average is $20,517 and $102,585 over 5 years.

Not a closed door

This does not mean that the door is completely closed for those who need health care or social services. According to the rules around medical inadmissibility, a willingness or ability to pay is not a factor for services that are publicly funded like a physician or hospital care, since there is no cost-recovery regime in place. Immigration officers, however, have to take into account the circumstances of the applicant and the existence of an alternative plan to defray costs of medication or services that are not publicly funded. It is also possible that applicants who disagree that an individual will cause an excessive burden on social or health services can provide a contrary medical report. In addition, people can apply for humanitarian consideration after being deemed inadmissible on medical grounds.

New policy to come

Furthermore, after reviewing this 40-year-old policy in September 2017, the Canadian Government is now considering making changes that will reflect the country’s values of inclusion of persons with disabilities in Canadian society. In April 2018 IRCC announced that a new policy on medical inadmissibility will strike a balance between protecting publicly funded health and social services and updating the policy to bring it in line with current views on the inclusion of persons with disabilities. The changes include:

  • increasing the cost threshold for medical inadmissibility to 3 times the previous level, and
  • amending the definition of social services by removing references to special education, social and vocational rehabilitation services and personal support services.


To conclude, it is possible to address medical inadmissibility, but the process can be long and complicated. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the result will be successful.