Today in Politics and Podcast: Immigration Minister Seeks Change to Screening Process

Today in Politics and Podcast: Immigration Minister Seeks Change to Screening Process

UPDATED November 22, 2017 3:49pmET

UPDATE: Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told the committee that Section 38-1C of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act on excessive demand is “unfair, out of date and not in line with Canadian values,” according to The Canadian Press:

Hussen did not elaborate on how exactly the law would be changed, but says a repeal is one of several options he’ll consider.

Watch PrimeTime Politics (8pm ET / 5pm PT) for a full replay of Hussen’s committee appearance.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen visits the Standing Committee on Immigration, which is studying how the government determines the medical inadmissibility of newcomers. LIVE ONLINE at 12:15pm ET / 9:15am PT

The federal government, provinces, and territories agreed in October 2016 that a fresh look at the issue was needed.

How does Canada screen prospective newcomers for medical conditions?

Under federal law, applicants to emigrate to Canada must undergo a medical test by a third-party physician, which forms part of the government’s assessment of admissibility.

No specific medical condition is a deal breaker for hopeful immigrants. But rejection can occur if an applicant is expected to place a higher-than-average financial burden on the Canadian health care and social security systems (above $33,275 per person over five years).

How common is this “excessive demand” in applications?

About 0.2 per cent of medical exams in recent years have been flagged, according to officials from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada who preceded Hussen at committee.

This category doesn’t apply to refugees and certain members of the “family class” of applicants.

But a highly communicable disease, such as tuberculosis, typically leads to a rejected application, the officials said last month.

So too can mental health disorders that “could result in unpredictable or violent behaviour” and a “danger to public safety.”

Hussen may also face questions on the American decision to end temporary residence permits for nearly 60,000 Haitian nationals – and whether Canadian officials are prepared for another potential rush of asylum seekers at the border.

The government’s cannabis bill (C-45) reaches third-reading debate in the House of Commons, one day after Health Canada released its proposals for regulation — from licensing to tracking to packaging.

Meanwhile, the political parties hold their weekly caucus meetings on Parliament Hill this morning. And Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce the government’s “National Housing Strategy” in Toronto at 3pm ET / 12pm PT.

-Andrew Thomson

Here’s Mark Sutcliffe with more Today in Politics on his daily podcast: