Canadian travellers applying for health visas in the country should expect changes in the upcoming days, the Minister of Foreign Affairs says.
Immigration Minister Chrystia Freeland said Thursday the Department of Foreign Trade will be making changes to the country’s visa requirements, including the availability of an expanded range of medical treatment for Canadians.
Her comments came as she announced a pilot program to allow Canadians to apply for a health visa if they are sick and unable to work.
In Canada, health visas allow Canadian citizens to visit family members abroad and travel to countries where they are medically prescribed to be, or where they have been prescribed to receive medical care.
“We are looking to see if we can take a more aggressive approach, and if we do, we will announce a program soon,” Freeland told reporters.
She added the changes could come “in the next few days.”
Canadian doctors have long been able to get temporary health visas, but there are some strict rules, including being a full-time medical doctor and working for at least 10 hours per week.
A new program would allow health visa holders to work and travel without any restrictions, according to the government.
A health visa can only be granted if the health conditions are severe enough to be considered severe, meaning the health condition would require immediate hospitalization.
Freeland said the government will “work with our partners to provide a program that’s both practical and effective for Canadians.”
The government said it will continue to provide information on health conditions of those applying for a Canadian health visa and will continue its efforts to find a way to expedite the process of obtaining a health status document for Canadians in the U.S.
Health Minister John McCallum has said Canada is considering extending a temporary visa program to those who are sick in the United States.
The program would cover people in the 10 days immediately following the date of entry, a person seeking to travel in the next 90 days, and a person applying for the same visa in the second 90 days.