We are trying to raise awareness of Canada’s discriminatory practices towards disabled people who want to visit Canada.
HE’S NOT A TERRORIST
HE’S NOT A MURDERER,
HE’S COMMITTED NO CRIME.
YET CANADA HAS BANNED THIS 17 YEAR OLD FOR LIFE
HE CAN NO LONGER ENTER CANADA AS A VISITOR.
HE HAS A DISABILITY
So much for a fair and equitable immigration policy. Following the intervention of the Quebec Immigration Minister in the Barlagne case (Barlagne Family allowed to stay in Canada) it appears that the Canadian immigration process is inequitable and if you have the financial means or have access to influential people then you can get favourable outcomes. It seems that Canada has a Immigration system that can be bought for a price, an under the table deal between politicians! This is not just and fair system. This is my experience, I beg you to highlight this injustice and help us fight for the rights of a disabled boy..
My wife and I have had our application for a Permanent Residence Visa rejected solely based upon my non-migrating 17 year old son’s disability but I would like to highlight the consequences of that decision namely the violation of the human rights and freedoms of an Autistic person solely based on his disability. My son is now banned for life from entering Canada as a visitor from the UK solely because he is Autistic. Below is our story which is rather long, but I make no apology for that given the deplorable way in which Citizenship and Immigration Canada treats disabled people.
This is the injustice which we are desperately trying to overturn. Lewis is now unable to enjoy the same rights and privileges as other UK residents wanting to holiday in Canada. I hope that you will be able to highlight this deplorable injustice and fight to remove these barriers. People with disabilities should enjoy exactly the same rights and privileges as everyone else. These rights should be enhanced, protected and enforced by legislation.
I have read numerous articles which have claimed that March 11 2010 was a momentous day for Canada and people with disabilities. Canada’s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is a declaration to the world that ‘Canada is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of people with disabilities and enabling their full participation in society’ according to Minister Cannon.
According to Minister Finley “The ratification of this agreement is just further acknowledgement that Canada is a world leader in providing persons with disabilities the same opportunities in life as all Canadians.”
I wonder what the world stage would think of Canada’s commitment to the UN convention. Parties to the Convention undertake the following:
‘ Recognizing that the United Nations, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights, has proclaimed and agreed that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth therein, without distinction of any kind’
Quote from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Preamble.
I hope that you with take time to read this message and take the matter of my son Lewis’ discrimination to heart and help right this injustice.
In February 2007, at the age of 40, I applied to the Canadian High Commission in London, UK, for a Permanent Residence Visa under the Skilled Worker Programme for myself and my wife. The online calculator demonstrated the required ‘pass’ mark for a visa was 67% and with our qualifications, abilities and experience, we scored 81%.
Our application for a Permanent Residence Visa was for my wife and I. My children, 19 and 17, were never part of my visa application to migrate to Canada as they reside with my ex-wife who has custody, and her husband, and to whom I pay maintenance; however they appear on the application as non migrating dependants as they were under the age of 22 years. It is important to note that they would not have been granted a visa for permanent residency should our application have been successful.
In December 2009 the Canadian High Commission issued medical examination forms for me, my wife and both non migrating children. January 2010 all four medical examinations were completed and the reports submitted to the Canadian High Commission together with additional information relating to my son’s autism, which was a letter from his family doctor.
In January 2010 the Canadian Blood Services offered me the post of Construction Project Manager delivering two new facilities as part of a new estates strategy. My last job in the UK was as Head of Capital Projects for the National Blood Service. I was Project Director for the delivery of what is the largest blood manufacturing facility in the World. I am a qualified Civil Engineer; I have an Engineering Honours Degree and an MBA. Unfortunately even though the Canadian High Commission was made aware of my job offer they did not attempt to finalise the process so by June the Canadian blood Service had to re-advertise the job.
April 2010 the Canadian High Commission requested further information on Lewis, my non migrating son. They requested a report from Lewis’ psychotherapist and his Statement of Educational Needs. These were submitted to Canadian High Commission in June 2010.
In July 2010 the Canadian High Commission requested further evidence regarding my non migrating son. We were requested to outline our intentions should we need to be Lewis’ primary carers, we provided a breakdown of the hypothetically situations showing that our first two options would not include us applying for Lewis to reside in Canada:
1) Lewis is able to make his own choices and has expressed a desire to go to a term time residential collage in UK when he is 18 (he has already identified the college he wants to go to) would be carried out with us holidaying in England during his holidays
2) We would return to the UK full time so Lewis could live with us, enabling us to care for Lewis. He has all his support networks and friends in the UK and we would not want to disrupt his life.
3)In such a case, which we can not envisage, we would have him live with us in Canada going through the appropriate legal channels to enable this, namely an application to the Canadian High Commission for Permanent Residence.
It was this 3rd such scenario that we had to identify the services available in the Cornwall (ON) area, cost them and then evidence our ability and willingness to pay for those services. We were also required to sign a declaration absolving the Canadian Government of any cost associated with Lewis’ care. This we duly provided and submitted the evidence in August 2010.
In February 2011 we received confirmation from the Canadian High Commission that our visa application had been denied solely based on Lewis Crowe’s Autism and subsections 38(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (please see below)
‘Pursuant to subsection 38(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, your family member, Lewis William Crowe, is a person whose health condition Autism Spectrum Disorder might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on the health or social services. The regulatory definitions of these terms are attached. As a result, your family member is inadmissible to Canada on health grounds.’
‘Subsection 42(a) of the Act states that a foreign national, other than a protected person, is inadmissible on the grounds of an inadmissible family member if their accompanying member or, in prescribed circumstances, their non-accompanying family member is inadmissible. Your non-accompanying family member is inadmissible to Canada. As a result, you are also inadmissible.’
‘Subsection 11(1) of the Act states that the visa or document shall be issued if, following an examination, the officer is satisfied that the foreign national is not inadmissible and meets the requirements of this Act. I am satisfied that you are inadmissible for the reasons set out above. I am therefore refusing your application pursuant to subsection 11(1) of the Act.’
The above extract is from the letter we received from the Canadian High Commission refusing our visa application, it was followed by the statement below confirming that my son Lewis is no longer free to travel to Canada as a visitor in the same way that UK citizens are, ie able to travel to Canada without seeking prior permission from embassy officials, solely because of his disability:
‘This inadmissibility may also extend to any stay in Canada as a visitor for your family member, Lewis William Crowe. Your family member, Lewis William Crowe, should therefore not attempt to enter Canada without seeking advice from a Canadian visa office.’
At this point it is important to state that as a visitor to Canada my son Lewis would not and could not cause excessive demands on the health or social services of Canada, he would not be able to access such services. He has visited Canada several times, always with travel and health insurance, which I might add we have never incurred a surcharge because of his disability.
Lewis loves to travel and experience new things. We own a holiday home in Cornwall, Ontario, which we hoped would be our permanent home one day. We have been embraced by our local community in Cornwall, as have our children and stepchildren. Lewis also enjoys visiting his Aunt and cousins who live in Canada. Lewis’ disability does not inhibit his enjoyment of travel or prevent him from the experiences open to other individuals. Not only have the Citizenship and Immigration Canada refused our Permanent Residence Visa application solely based on a non-migrating family member’s disability but under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the Canadian High Commission and Citizenship and Immigration Canada have discriminated against my son Lewis on the basis of his disability, is this not a violation of his inherent dignity and worth, infringing on his rights and freedoms? Canadian High Commission and Citizenship and Immigration Canada are treating Lewis differently to any other member of the UK, where people are allowed to enter Canada as a visitor for up to a period of 6 months without having to prove they do not have a medical or learning disability condition. Canada is therefore preventing Lewis from fully enjoying the rights and fundamental freedoms that others enjoy.
We have spent a small fortune to seek legal advice but the best estimate for an appeal to our visa decision is two years and $30,000+ but Lewis’ lifelong ban would still apply even if we won. What is needed is a change in legislation to prevent any disabled person being discriminated in this way.
We thought Canada was an equitable and inclusionary society with similar high principles to the UK. However our experience has left us feeling that Canada does not take its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities seriously or at least Canada is not committed internationally to the Convention’s principles.
I hope that you may be able to help us regain Lewis’ rights. Surely our story should be an embarrassment to a country claiming to be a world leader in disability rights.
Robert Crowe – Cornwall Ontario