An advocate who says it is “unfair” that an American family was denied permanent residency due to the potential costs of their daughter’s health problems has found an ally in Canada’s minister of persons with disabilities.
The family of six moved to Canada from Colorado in 2013 and have built a business in the town of Waterhen, Man. Their work permits expire in November.
When they came to Canada, Jon and Karissa Warkentin didn’t know that their daughter Karalynn, then two, had special needs. She was diagnosed in 2014 with epilepsy and global developmental delay.
In April, they received a letter of rejection from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, which stated Karalynn’s health condition might cause “excessive demand” on health or social services.
Allen Mankewich, an advocate for people with disabilities, criticized the immigration system, which he said excludes people if their health needs are expected to cost more $6,655 annually.
“I think it’s unfair because it just puts a price on someone’s life, and as people with disabilities, we’re always trying to work against those kind of attitudes that our lives are expensive or that we’ll create excessive demand or that we’ll be a burden on society,” he said.
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In an interview with CBC’s Information Radio on Friday, Carla Qualtrough, minister of persons with disabilities, said she agreed “wholeheartedly” with Mankewich.
“Especially when he talks about how we as Canadians with disabilities feel like we are told from the very beginning that our needs are expensive and burdensome,” said Qualtrough, who is legally blind.