While discriminatory immigration policies and practices have been removed for most populations, the historical record indicates that discriminatory legislation still exists for disabled immigrants and their families.
An historical review of immigration legislation indicates that, while significant reforms have led to the accommodation, admission and acceptance of immigrants from around the world, no similar legislative reforms have been made to accommodate, admit or accept immigrants with disabilities.
Discoveries can be made as to the long-term consequences of policy development and comparisons can be made regarding the impact of legislative changes for different populations.
For example, the historical record shows that post World War Two reforms, especially reforms made during the 1960s, led to the opening of Canadian borders for many different populations.
Similar to other minority populations, including people of colour, gays, lesbians, as well as people from ethnically and culturally diverse communities, people with disabilities have been assigned to the prohibited and inadmissible classes of various immigration acts.
While significant legislative changes have been instituted to address immigration policies which were once racist, sexist, and/or homophobic, no similar changes have been made to address ableist immigration legislation.The paper commences with an examination of Canada's first immigration legislation, which was developed in 1869, and it ends with an examination of the Immigrant and Refugee Protection Act of 2001.By examining Canadian immigration legislation through an historical lens, the development of immigration legislation can be traced over time.The intent of this paper is not to spend a vast amount of time debating the ethics of legislation which denies admission to people with disabilities but, instead, it is hoped that by reading this paper people will come to their own conclusions about ethical decision-making and ethical policy development.To achieve this objective, the paper presents an historical chronology of immigration policy development showing that reforms which ended discriminatory practices toward many groups have not been applied to people with disabilities.Roy Hanes, MSW, Ph D Associate Professor of Social Work Carleton University This paper explores the development of Canadian immigration legislation from the mid-Nineteenth Century to the present day.The aim is to show, through an historical lens, how people with disabilities have been and continue to be treated as inferior to nondisabled people when it comes to immigration.As a result, Canadian immigration legislation continues to deny or restrict immigration opportunities for people with disabilities, as case studies will attest.By developing this history, it is hoped that readers will address important questions about the ethics of the continued discrimination against potential immigrants with disabilities and the ethics of decision-making processes which devalue the lives of people with disabilities.In recent years, numerous media reports as well as reports from advocacy groups, such as the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, reveal that people with disabilities and their family members are being denied permission to immigrate to Canada."Canadians with disabilities realize that if they had not been born here they could never become a Canadian for the simple reason that they have a disability" (