Toronto

Quadriplegic fears caregivers' deportation

A Toronto woman paralyzed from the chest down is worried she will be forced back into a nursing home if immigration officials deport two family members who look after her.
The federal government has ordered the deportation of two people who provide care for a Toronto quadriplegic. 2:19

A Toronto woman paralyzed from the chest down is worried she will be forced back into a nursing home if immigration officials go ahead with plans to deport her cousin and his wife, who she relies on for primary care.

Hallima Idan, 47, was left paralyzed after a car accident six years ago.

A wheelchair user with limited use of her arms, Idan requires around-the-clock care to help her eat, bathe and dress.

Idan, a Canadian citizen who immigrated from Guyana in 1997, spent months in hospital after the accident then stayed in a nursing home for about a month. Idan said her nursing home care was inadequate.

"It was so awful," she told CBC News. "They don't shower you, they don't give you nothing proper to eat. Nothing. If I stayed there any longer, I might commit suicide because I can't take it." 

Idan said her husband was unwilling to care for her and "abandoned" her. Other family members stepped in to look after her as best they could but could not be with her the 24 hours a day that she required.

Idan's cousin, Mohamed Arpha, and his wife, Zarine, came to Canada in 2007 and began to provide full-time care for Idan in her Toronto apartment.

The couple applied for refugee protection on humanitarian and compassionate grounds but the application was rejected and they were ordered deported.

A government-funded care worker currently comes to Idan’s home for two hours a day, which is a help to the Arphas but the family said falls far short of Idan's needs.

Zarine Arpha said she and her husband want to stay in Toronto to care for Idan, and are afraid what will happen to her if they are deported.

Zarine Arpha helps Hallima Idan drink a glass of water. Paralyzed from the chest down and with limited use of her arms, Idan requires around-the-clock care. (CBC)

"I am very close to her and now, I feel she is part of me," said Arpha. "I love her so much. I don't know if I leave her what could happen. I'm stressed out so much.

"I am very scared to leave her. She can't stay by herself. She can't even take a cup of water. I would like to stay and take care of her. That's all I'm asking … We can't leave her."

Judith Pilowsky, a Toronto psychologist who specializes in treating people who have suffered acute trauma, wrote a letter in support of the Arphas staying in Canada for compassionate reasons.

In her letter, Pilowsky said if the Arphas are deported, "Ms. Idan is highly susceptible to a complete psychological breakdown from which she will not recover."

Unable to afford private home care, Idan fears she will have to a return to a nursing home if the Arphas are sent back to Guyana.

"I'd rather die than go back [to a care home]," she said.

"I'm happy here because I'm in my own place and I have my own family with me. My doctor said the care I have here I could not have in a nursing home."

CBC News contacted citizenship and immigration officials for comment on this case. A spokesperson said because the case is an active file, it would be inappropriate to comment.

In an emailed statement in response to CBC's interview requests, the ministry said the following: "A temporary resident permit may be issued in exceptional circumstances ... for compelling humanitarian and compassionate reasons. These decisions are made on a case-by-case basis."

And while they haven't given up hope, the Arphas have purchased plane tickets to provide proof they intend to return to Guyana.