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Emigrating to Canada? With a Pre-Existing Condition, Maybe Not.

RCMP Musical Ride, Parksville, BC, 21 August 2018

Friends, I’ve had a rough week. An incredible high followed by a crash. I’ll share it with you because I found out something interesting and relevant as a result.

I’ve dreamed of living in a tiny house for years now. I spent my 51st birthday weekend at a Tumbleweed workshop in Vancouver. It’s not practical to try to build it myself; with my physical issues, I’m not lifting plywood panels and whatnot. Living in a condo is also a barrier—my parking space is all the land I have in this world, and I can’t park the trailer bed in my condo parking space and build my house in the parking lot. My nearest land-owning friend who might let me build on his lot is 6 miles away. I know what my own work looks like and I don’t want to live in the tiny house equivalent of a hoopdie (it’s in Urban Dictionary, look it up).

Before I can leave the condo, I need a place to go. With 2 cats, it’s not as simple as couch surfing with friends. I need to be in the new place, or an interim place, before I can sell the condo. I’m not a person who can live in a staged place that’s being shown, plus it needs some work that will be easier to have done with me out of there.

Last week an opportunity dropped out of the sky. My friend on Vancouver Island sent me an ad from a closed Facebook group she’s in, advertising a tiny house for sale. I was planning to visit her last week anyway; I contacted the seller and made an appointment to see the house. I didn’t think a lot of it at the time except that I was excited to go see any tiny house. I never imagined it would be as perfect as it is.

The location is right where I’d keep it—a lovely mobile park a 5-minute bike ride from a glorious waterfall, with lots of river swimming holes easily accessible from the house. It’s a 20-minute drive from my happy place, a sparsely populated seaside beach where I swim often, and there’s an indoor aquatic center for winter swimming. It has a fenced yard for the cats.I know lots of people in the area, I have some good friends nearby, and a close friend an hour north. The price was perfect, and the seller was willing to take an earnest money payment and await the rest from the sale of my condo.

I was moving to Canada! I didn’t spread the news very far because I wanted to get my paperwork started to make it nice and legal first. That’s where I hit the wall—Canadian immigration policy has tightened against US citizens moving in and I do not meet the qualifications for permanent residency. Those qualifications aren’t important here, nor do I feel like explaining them when they don’t make full sense to me, but one thing I found out in the process is relevant to this audience:  you can be medically ineligible for entry! I’ve recovered from my physical issues to the point where I’m nowhere near the expense threshold, but it happens to people.

Because of Canada’s heath care system that provides care to all, US citizens must purchase special insurance to obtain medical services in Canada. I got a quote for the sake of research, and the basic plan with a high deductible was almost $500 a month. And here’s the kicker—you can be denied entry for having an anticipated need for too many services. The rationale for this is that even though you are paying for your services, you’re taking doctor time away from a Canadian patient and increasing the load on the system.

Recently the medical inadmissibility policy came under public criticism and was revised to be more inclusive of people with disabilities. The financial threshold was raised by 300%, from around $6,665 to almost $20,000 a year. The old threshold would have disqualified me; the new one would have until about 2014. Here is more information about the policy if you think it might apply to you:

I understand the policy and I’m not judging it, even though it could have had a negative impact on me a few years ago. Now it won’t; I typically see my pain manager 4 times a year and my other services, like acupuncture and massage, can be obtained from spas or other providers outside the official system. It appears that chiropractic care is optional under a third-party insurer for Canadian citizens, but not part of the nationalized health care system, so the amount I spend on that would not apply toward my threshold evaluation.

I think US citizens considering moving to Canada need to be aware of this policy. It could affect members of this blog’s audience. It won’t keep me out, but alas, I have many other barriers to get through and I may lose this opportunity. I haven’t given up yet!

Emigrating to Canada? With a Pre-Existing Condition, Maybe Not.

Kristin Noreen

Kristin Noreen lives in Bellingham, Washington with two cats and her vintage touring bicycle, Silver. Her triple passions are animal rescue, long-distance bike touring, and writing. Her book, On Silver Wings: A Life Reconstructed, is about reinventing her life following a catastrophic injury.

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, . (2018). Emigrating to Canada? With a Pre-Existing Condition, Maybe Not.. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Aug 2018
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