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Because of my disability Canada won’t accept me: Immigration Policy and the ‘burden’ of disabled migrants

Authors: Stine Hansen*, McMaster University, Robert Wilton, McMaster University, Bruce Newbold, McMaster University
Topics: Immigration/Transnationalism, Disabilities, Canada
Keywords: immigration, disability, policy
Session Type: Lightning Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Medical inadmissibility provisions in Canada’s immigration law (and in other immigrant receiving countries) exclude some disabled applicants on the basis that they would place excessive demand on public health and social service systems. These statutory provisions rest on narrowly defined biomedical criteria, which perpetuate a deficit model of disability. In this paper, our aims are twofold. First, we examine the development of these provisions over time. While contemporary provisions embody longstanding bio-political concerns with the utility of migrant bodies, there have been changes in recent years including a shift from categorical exclusions to individualized assessments. Such assessments allow for greater attention to the needs and capacities of individual applicants but they also reflect an intensification of market logics in the immigration system. Second, drawing on interviews with immigrants with disabilities, we consider how notions of ‘excessive demand’ and the meanings attached to disabled bodies are constructed and contested within the immigration system.

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