Ontario Opposes Federal Proposal to Remove Citizenship by Birth

The Ontario government has stated publicly that it will not support the proposal of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to remove citizenship rights for children born on Canadian soil to non-Canadian parents.

Currently, Canadian policy states that any person born in Canada receives automatic Canadian citizenship. CIC believes this policy may threaten the privilege of being a citizen of Canada due to “birth tourism,” when pregnant women from around the world travel to Canada to give birth to their child. The child is automatically a Canadian citizen, and this connection is later used for the rest of the family to immigrate through family sponsorship.

Citizenship is the sole responsibility of the federal government in Canada, however, birth certification is issued on a province by province basis. Should the “citizenship by birth” policy be removed, each province will be required to change their documentation and procedures to include citizenship.

However, Ontario thinks that the lack of a birth citizenship policy would require birth registration to come under responsibility of the federal government, and that the overhaul would be expensive and time-consuming.

The government of Ontario believes this decision cannot be made by the Federal government alone, because of all the major changes that will need to be implemented by the provinces. For example, if the process of obtaining citizenship becomes more restricted, there could be delay in issuing proof of citizenship, and therefore dangerous delay in access to provincial services, like health care.

Ottawa has responded with several introduced programs to lessen the strain on provinces should the policy in question be removed. CIC has created an e-verification portal that is essentially a database with all Canadian citizens, accessible when citizenship needs to be verified.

Per year, fewer than 500 cases a year of children born on Canadian soil to foreign nationals are documented, and there is no documentation of fraudulent “birth tourism” activity. The provincial government of Ontario has stated that this lack of evidence does not sufficiently support the cost alone of developing and updating the IT systems for verifying citizenship in each province. Should citizenship by birth be removed, some children born in Canada may not even be registered because illegal parents could have their status identified in the process.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander plans to consult with all of Canada’s provinces and territories before moving forward. Of the potential policy change, Minister Alexander states that “[the government] ha[s] to make sure we get it right in a way that doesn’t disrupt the vast majority of Canadians who are having their legitimate births in hospitals, but does detect and deter those cases where our generosity is being abused.” Those who desire the removal of the “citizenship by birth” policy believe Canadian citizenship is an honor and a privilege, and should be treated as such.

FWCanada is a Montreal-based immigration law firm that provides professional legal services on Canadian immigration. For more tips and updates on Canadian immigration follow FWCanada on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin.

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