On the last day of the spring session of the Canadian Parliament Olivia Chow, an NDP MP from Toronto, moved to introduce Bill C-556, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (exception to inadmissibility). You can find the complete text of her proposal on her website or in the Parliament’s records.
The purpose of the amendment is to stop the (alleged) discrimination against people with disabilities who want to become legal Canadian residents. As with any issue related to a disadvantaged group, any criticism of that issue could bring the anger of the righteous leftists upon the critic. Nevertheless, let’s see why Olivia’s idea is not good.
First of all, such an act will be unfair to the disabled people already living in Canada. According to Disabled World, by 2006 more than 4.4 million people had activity limitations due to disability. That’s a huge number, which now is probably even larger. I don’t think that anyone could claim that the problems of those people have been resolved. The Canadian health system is overburdened and hundreds of thousands of Canadian are forced to wait for essential health procedures.
Few months ago Jack Layton was diagnosed with cancer. As a prominent federal politician he probably got immediate medical attention (and I wish him full recovery). But Olivia is probably aware that thousands of cancer patients have to wait for life-saving procedures. So the question is: doesn’t any government have the obligation to take care first and foremost of its citizens? Have we solved the problems of the sick and disabled in Canada?
And as usual the NDP bill ignores the most important question:
WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR ALL THAT?
Yes, that’s just a small detail in their world. It doesn’t look like the NDP plans to organize a socialist co-operative or kolhoz to earn money for those expensive. As always, the taxpayers will have to foot the bill.
There is another important issue about that proposal. In her presentation Olivia Chow gives as an example “the case of David and Sophie Barlagne, a French family that was told by the Federal Court that their daughter, Rachel, who has cerebral palsy, constituted an excessive demand on the social service resources of the province of Quebec, even though the family can support her.”
The example creates the impression that there will be no financial problems for Canada, since “the family can support” the disabled person. But in reality that’s not going to work. Imagine two Canadian families, who have a child with cerebral palsy: the child of the first one was born to Canadian citizens in Canada, the second child came with her parents, who promised to support her.
The first child gets extensive care covered by the government and the parents of the second one have to pay for everything according to the new Immigration Law. Don’t you immediately see the problem here? In this case we have two legal residents of Canada who are treated differently and the second one can claim discrimination. Just one complaint filed with the Human Rights commission can strike down the law and the decision will be supported by all Canadian courts and rightly so, because all Canadian citizens should be treated equally.
So that part of the law will be totally unenforcible. But we will be stuck with the Immigration Law allowing into the country people who will strain the health system, because it is very unlikely that Count Ignatieff and Jack Layton would vote to repell an NDP-sponsored bill.
NDP can do a much better job, if they do something internationally: like pressuring rich countries like Russia and China to do more for the disabled.
That would be much better than pushing another half-baked legislative initiative…