OTTAWA — To mark World Down Syndrome Day, Minister for Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough issued a news release Monday saying, “We celebrate the immense contributions those with Down Syndrome make to Canadian society.”
But that’s not the message Felipe Montoya is getting from Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
The York University professor was recently told his family’s quest to settle in Canada is in jeopardy. His son, who has Down Syndrome, is inadmissible to Canada because he would be a potential burden to our health care system.
Montoya and his family moved to Canada from Costa Rica, and he is now a full-time, tenured professor of environmental studies.
He filed an application three years ago for permanent residency for himself, his wife and two children.
However, in a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, he was informed:
“Your family member Nicolas Montoya is a person whose health condition might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on social services in Canada. An excessive demand is a demand for which the anticipated costs exceed the average Canadian per capita health and social services costs, which is currently set at $6,387.”
Global News approached both Immigration Minister John McCallum and Qualtrough to explain the contradiction.
Qualtrough said despite what another government department is doing, she stands by her statement.
“From our perspective we know many very capable, very able, very contributing Canadians that have Down Syndrome.”
McCallum said he supports Qualtrough’s message and, despite the letter sent by his own department stating Nicolas is inadmissible to Canada, “no decision has been made in this case.”
He added the case is still under review.
“Obviously I am sympathetic to this,” McCallum went on to tell Global News. “I’m telling you that this case will receive a sympathetic consideration.”
But until he hears differently, Montoya has to choose which government message to believe: the one that says his son is capable of making immense contributions to Canadian society or the one that says Nicolas will be a costly burden.