When Manitoba's booming trucking industry needed long-haul drivers, British-born Chris Mason answered the call. Now, after injuries have left him crippled and unable to work, he's been told he's an economic burden and will be deported.

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This article was published 12/1/2009 (4637 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

When Manitoba's booming trucking industry needed long-haul drivers, British-born Chris Mason answered the call. Now, after injuries have left him crippled and unable to work, he's been told he's an economic burden and will be deported.

"I feel like I've been sentenced to death..." said Mason, who found work as a truck driver in Canada in 2001.

After the wear and tear of that job damaged his lower back and left him unable to walk, modifications were made to the rig and he went back to work as a driver, then later as a dispatcher.

Two years later, he was struck by a wheelchair taxi at a crosswalk near the Health Sciences Centre.

On Friday, Mason, 35, was informed he will be removed from Canada today to his native Britain where he hasn't lived since he was eight years old. At that time, his parents split up and he moved to Greece to live with his dad.

"I have my mother and my sister (in Britain), but all my support and friends are here in Winnipeg," he said.

Mason's mom and sister live in walk-ups in Manchester that -- like much of England -- aren't wheelchair accessible, he said.

"In England, there's such a shortage of accessible housing that there's a two-and-a-half-year waiting list for (it)."

He said he's still battling Manitoba Public Insurance over an insurance claim and is grateful for a network of friends and support in Manitoba that have helped him start over twice -- once when he first became a paraplegic and again when he was hit in his wheelchair at a crosswalk and "everything collapsed again."

Laurie Helgason, who befriended Mason when they became disabled at about the same time, said she feels Mason should be allowed to stay on compassionate grounds.

"It feels like Canada's throwing him away," she said. "We don't want to deal with the problem. We want him back in England and make it their problem."

She said Mason is like a brother to her and her husband, and she worries about his well-being.

"England's not well-known for their supports for the disabled... it's hard to believe he'd find housing and supports," she said. "He's a good man in the community"

Mason applied for permanent residency after he started working but didn't properly complete the paperwork. The second time he applied, he was disabled, out of work and, ultimately, rejected.

Now, the man has to leave his two cats, his friends and his wheelchair-accessible home.

"It doesn't seem right," Helgason said. "I really wish something could be done about it. I'd like to see him stay -- that would be the best thing."

A spokeswoman for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) said she couldn't comment on the specifics of Mason's case because of privacy legislation. Generally, everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process before the law, and all removal orders are subject to various levels of appeal, she said in an email.

Prior to removal, individuals may seek a judicial review, as well as an administrative review, to assess the potential risk or hardship they may face if returned to their country of origin.

"It is imperative for the integrity of this system that once individuals have exhausted all avenues, they respect our immigration laws and leave Canada," the spokeswoman for CBSA said. "In cases where there are medical concerns, CBSA officials will consult with medical professionals... to determine if a person is in a condition to travel."

 

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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