I meant to finish this up yesterday, but somehow the time just simply got away from me.
December 22, 2011 was the date upon which Ms. Marlene Edmond of the Citizenship and Immigration Canada visa office in New York City, NY, USA officially rejected my application for permanent residency.
Thus, on this the first anniversary date (plus one) of the rejection I am looking back. Things have changed dramatically in the past year.
When she has to refuse an application I wonder if she worries if she has made a mistake. Perhaps in a case such as mine she doesn’t – though the subsequent events suggest to me that in fact the rejection – or at least the procedure leading up to that rejection – was a mistake. I have no idea if such cases are ever reviewed internally at CIC to see if they are actually “doing things correctly” or not. I do know that it seems like once they lose a case, they bend over backwards to correct whatever the fundamental flaw was in the original process. Still that doesn’t guarantee that the application will be granted.
In Ms. Edmond’s case, my opinion is that her mistake was in not pushing back on the medical officer’s decision. That even a casual reviewer – let alone an immigration officer of her many years of experience – would look at this and say “wow, how can you reach a conclusion that someone is inadmissible when they have multiple overlapping plans for payment that don’t require on personal promises to pay and cover 100% of more than 4x the estimated current cost?” suggests to me that she should have been asking that question.
Or perhaps another way of looking at it Ms. Edmond: if you were going to reject me simply because of the policy of British Columbia, why did you ask me to submit anything to you in the first place? I could have saved the thousands of dollars I spent in responding to the fairness letter and you wouldn’t have needed to waste your scarce resources on reviewing that response. Indeed, looking back at it now, I find it difficult to see how a Federal Judge wouldn’t have asked that question – and therein concluded that there really was no “individualized assessment”. After all, the decision simply required referring to the provincial policy.
In Sapru, the Court concluded that the immigration officer could not “fix” the poor decision of the medical officer. In my case, the Medical Officer Hélène Quevillon really didn’t have any other reason in her original written notes to indicate this was related to me – it really was about BC’s public funded drug policy. Ms. Edmond didn’t even go as far as the officer in Sapru did – she certainly didn’t push back on Ms. Quevillon’s determination and there is absolutely no indication that she reviewed that decision, especially in light of her duty to do so under the Sapru decision. She certainly didn’t try to invent additional rationale for reaching the decision. Thus, she acted more like a rubber stamp – with even less “value add” than was the case in Sapru – a case in which the Court overturned CIC’s decision.
So while I seriously doubt that Ms. Edmond will ever review her decision in my case, if I could communicate directly with her I would say that I am disappointed – not in the outcome, but rather in her execution of the process.
I am quite fortunate – I had the drive and resources available to challenge her decision. Most people in such a position likely just walk away from the decision. That is why it is so important that people like Ms. Edmond do their best to ensure their decision is fair and equitable.
In the interveningyear, I’ve had the honour to assist several people with their cases, and one is a case similar to mine: a federal skilled worker application in which the spouse was found to be HIV positive. The medical decision is still pending – they have now furthered it once again, because the test results indicate that without treatment this individual does not require treatment under current guidelines in their intended province. Of course, if they were coming to BC it would be easier – CIC could just reject them, since the provincial policy is to provide treatment to everyone, regardless of their lab results. It saddens me to see how difficult this is for people – leaving their lives hanging in the balance for months and years.
So Ms. Edmond, it’s been one year now since you wrote that rejection letter. Even now as I read the closing (“thank you for your interest in Canada“) I feel a certain degree of bitterness with the snide nature of that closing line. Canada deserves better – it deserves immigration officers and medical officers that remember there are real people behind those files.
While I didn’t win the victory I really wanted, I have managed to achieve sufficient victory for me to be satisfied with the outcome. I hope both you and Ms. Quevillon do your very best for Canada now and in the future.