Canada to give citizenship rights to ‘lost Canadians’ and descendants

May 23, 2024 | Canadian News, Headlines, News

Immigration Minister Marc Miller tabled the Citizenship Bill that will extend citizenship to “lost Canadians” and their descendants.

Lost Canadians” are those who lost or never acquired citizenship due to certain outdated provisions of former citizenship legislation. Bill C-71, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (2024), would restore citizenship to them.

The amendments in 2009 added the first-generation limit to citizenship by descent, which means a Canadian citizen can pass on citizenship to a child born outside the country if the parent was either born in Canada or naturalized before the birth of the child.

“The proposed legislation will extend citizenship by descent beyond the first generation in a way that is inclusive and upholds the value of our citizens,” Miller said while speaking at Parliament Hill today.

This legislation would automatically confer Canadian citizenship to persons born abroad to a Canadian parent who is also born abroad.

It will also extend access to a direct grant of citizenship to children born abroad and adopted by a Canadian parent beyond the first generation.

“Under the new legislation, children born abroad to a Canadian citizen, who was also born outside Canada, will be a Canadian citizen from birth if their parent can demonstrate they have a substantial connection to Canada as long as a Canadian parent who was born outside of Canada accumulates three years spent in Canada before the birth of the child,” Miller said.

“The current rules generally restrict citizenship by descent to the first generation, excluding some people who have a genuine connection to Canada,” he said.

“This has unacceptable consequences for families and impacts life choices, such as where individuals may choose to live, work, study, or even where to have children and raise a family,” he said.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice, ruled on Dec. 19, 2023, that the first-generation limit is unconstitutional. The Court gave the federal government six months, until June 19, 2024, to amend the act.

Miller also targeted the Conservatives as the 2009 amendment was adopted by the Stephen Harper government.

He said Canadians should not trust them.

“This is an example of Conservatives having taken away Canadians’ rights and something they hold most dear to them in their citizenship,” he said. “So when these conservatives say nothing to fear, Canadians need to take note of what they’ve actually done in the past.”

New Democratic Party’s (NDP) immigration critic Jenny Kwan said she was optimistic the bill addresses the issues of lost Canadians so they don’t have to be second-class citizens.

“It was the Conservatives that stripped children of Canadian parents the right to pass on their citizenship automatically to their children as a result of that the Conservatives have created second-class citizens in Canada,” Kwan said.

She said the Conservatives should support this bill.

“If the Conservatives say they support the community, then I would ask them not to obstruct the progress of this bill. Pass this bill so that (it) can become law,” Kwan said.