The180

Are elderly immigrants a burden on Canada's healthcare system?

Last week on The 180, we heard from an immigration lawyer who said it's a bad idea to increase the number of elderly immigrants to Canada. This week Avvy Go, director of the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, argues elderly immigrants are much more benefit than they are burden.
Grandparents embrace grandchildren they have never seen before, at the Halifax airport in 2014. (CBC)
Listen7:27

On our last program, Toronto immigration lawyer, Sergio Karas, argued against increases in the number of elderly immigrants to Canada.

Karas warns that if Canada plans to accept 10,000 parent and grandparent immigrant sponsorship applications, then it has to be prepared for the burden those immigrants will place on the health care system over time.

But Avvy Go disagrees.

Go, the director of the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, says she isn't aware of any evidence to support the claim that elderly immigrants draw more on Canada's health care system.  

On the contrary, there are many studies, as a group immigrants tend to be healthier than the Canadian population, partly because all immigrants including sponsored parents and grandparents are subject to a medical exams before they are even allowed to come to Canada. - Avvy Go

In Go's view, if we talk about the costs of elderly immigrants, then we must weigh that against the contribution they make as well.

Citing a study done by the federal government itself, Go says often elderly immigrants allow their sponsors, and in some cases spouses as well, to increase their labour market participation. 

More importantly in her view, Go says, the idea that people should only be judged by their net economic impact is an affront to Canadian values. 

We want a society that embraces compassion. We want a society that cares for our families and communities — and parents and grandparents are part of that community.- Avvy Go

Click on the play button above to listen to the full interview with guest host Jason Proctor.

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