Family with disabled child can stay in Canada

A French family living in Montreal will be allowed to stay in Canada after facing deportation because their daughter has cerebral palsy.

Que. government intervenes to reach deal with Ottawa on residency

David and Sophie Barlagne and their daughter, Rachel, who has cerebral palsy, will be allowed to stay in Canada after the Quebec government issued a special selection certificate. (Courtesy of the Barlagne family)

A French family living in Montreal will be allowed to stay in Canada after facing deportation because their daughter has cerebral palsy.

The Barlagne family was originally denied residency because Canadian immigration officials said eight-year-old Rachel would be a burden on Canada's health-care system.

However, Quebec's Immigration Ministry has intervened and reached an agreement with the federal government to accept the family's application for permanent residency.

Quebec will issue a selection certificate and federal officials have agreed to give the application the stamp of approval.

David Barlagne, Rachel's father, said a weight has been lifted from his shoulders.

"It's kind of like a new life that is starting for us," he said Tuesday after the decision was made public.

However, he said he was still being cautious.

"I'm really happy. I have to wait a little more. I want to feel the paper in my hand," he said.

Family encouraged to move to Canada

The Barlagne family moved to Montreal from the French island of Guadeloupe six years ago with their disabled daughter and another child.

Barlagne said officials at the Canadian Embassy in Paris granted him a temporary work permit after convincing him Canada was a great location for his software development business.

But when the Barlagnes applied to stay permanently in Canada, their bid was rejected on the grounds that Rachel's care would create an excessive burden on health and social services.

In 2010, a Federal Court judge ruled against a judicial review of the family's residency application.

The family's lawyer, Stéphane Minson, said Rachel's care would cost the system $5,259 per year.

Barlagne has maintained he is willing to pay for his daughter's care.

Politicians stepped in with support

The Barlagnes appealed to federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney last week.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, Bloc Québécois Leader Gilles Duceppe and NDP Leader Jack Layton also urged Kenney to let the family stay.

Minson said Quebec Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil played a big role in getting Ottawa to process the family's residency request.

He believes the reversal of the decision came as a result of pressure from politicians and the public.

"The federal government and the provincial government, both of them wanted to have a solution on this matter," said Minson.

On Tuesday, Quebec's Immigration Ministry was tight-lipped on the details of the arrangement between federal and provincial officials.

A spokesperson would only say the case is a special one and both levels of government worked hard to find a solution.