Last week, the Canadian government rescinded an order to deport the Maengs, a South Korean family who moved to Moncton, New Brunswick, eight and a half years ago. The Maengs moved to Canada in search of better treatment for their now 15-year-old son, Sung-Joo Maeng, who has epilepsy and autism.
Now, another family with a child on the autism spectrum has also been told that their son’s needs would be an “excessive drain” on Canada’s health and social services. As the Toronto Star reports, an early medical assessment by Citizenship and Immigration Canada has concluded that 20-year-old Chris Reynolds, who has Asperger’s Syndrome and Tourette’s Syndrome, is “medically inadmissible” to Canada. Due to his needs, Chris needs to stay at home with his father and brother full-time. The Canadian government has estimated that Chris’ care could cost Canadians $7,000 a year.
Only 0.2 per cent of permanent residency applicants a year are said to be “inadmissible” to Canada, “for fear they would pose an excessive demand on the country’s health care system,” says the Toronto Star.
Chris is an American citizen; he was born in Nashville, Tennesee, and has lived in Toronto since 2007, with his father, Tom Reynolds, a tenured theology professor at the University of Toronto’s Emmanuel College — which in part serves students studying for ministry in the United Church of Canada – and a 17-year-old younger brother, who is still in high school. The Reynolds applied to immigrate from within Canada shortly after their arrival and have now withdrawn their application under the skilled worker program. They are now applying under the under the humanitarian and compassionate stream but the time to apply is running out as Chris will be 22 years old in two years and so unable to apply on his family’s application.
I have been very fortunate to have met Tom Reynolds, at a conference about autism and advocacy that my husband, Jim Fisher, organized at Fordham University in New York in 2006. Though our sons are very different, there are plenty of overlaps and both boys have many needs and (I cannot state this enough) many abilities and much to give to the world. Currently, Chris’s care is covered by his family paying out of pocket and through his father’s health insurance from his employer. Reynolds has created a Facebook page, Canadians for Chris.
I find it quite unbelievable, and very troubling, that the Reynolds’ application is being rejected in the very mistaken belief that Chris would be some kind of burden on the Canadian health system. If the assumption is being made that Chris, due to his disabilities, might not be able to contribute to Canada, someone is very mistaken. As Reynolds says in the Toronto Star:
“Even if Chris ends up needing continual care, is there nothing my family offers Canada to help offset the public cost of Chris?”
As Chris himself says in the Toronto Star:
I am a homebody,” he said with a sheepish smile. “I am not good at starting a conversation and I get bad anxiety sitting in a car for too long.”
Surely Canada is not going to wrest Chris away from his home?
Take Action!: Tell Canada to Grant Permanent Residency to Chris Reynolds by signing this petition.
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Photo from Canadians for Chris.