Marc Miller’s Official Announcement and Legislative Path for New Canadian Citizenship Legislation

In a significant move aimed at addressing long-standing issues within Canadian citizenship laws, Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, Marc Miller, is set to introduce new legislation to amend the Citizenship Act. This proposed change primarily targets the “first generation limit- Lost Canadians,” a clause that has been a source of concern for many Canadian families with children born abroad.

Minister Miller to introduce legislation

From: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Media Advisory

Ottawa, May 22, 2024—The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, will hold a media scrum regarding the introduction of a citizenship bill. Minister Miller will be joined by Jenny Kwan, Member of Parliament for Vancouver East, and Kathryn Burton, advocate and parent.

Date:

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Time:

10:30 a.m. ET

Location: Foyer of the House of Commons of Canada
111 Wellington Street, West Block
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

On Thursday, May 23, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. ET (Toronto time), immigration minister Marc Miller will convene a media scrum to discuss the presentation of a new citizenship bill. Jenny Kwan, a Vancouver East member of parliament, and Kathryn Burton, a well-known parent and advocate, will be joining him.

Together, they will offer analysis and respond to inquiries about the recently proposed legislation.

Understanding the First Generation Limit

The “first generation limit” in the Citizenship Act currently stipulates that children born outside of Canada to Canadian parents can only inherit citizenship if their parents themselves were either born in Canada or became Naturalised Canadian citizens. This means that the children of Canadians who were also born abroad do not automatically receive Canadian citizenship, creating a generational cutoff that can complicate family planning and create legal uncertainties for many Canadian expatriates. As enacted by the Senate, Bill S-245 gave citizenship to a group known as Lost Canadians, or those born overseas to Canadian parents between February 15, 1977, and April 16, 1981. These individuals may not have been aware that they needed to apply to maintain their citizenship before turning 28 even though they were naturalized citizens of Canada at birth.

In a landmark decision on December 19, 2023, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled that the “first generation limit” in Canada’s Citizenship Act is unconstitutional. This decision has significant implications for Canadian families with children born abroad and has prompted swift action from the Canadian government.

Court Ruling and Government Response

The court’s ruling in December found that the first-generation restriction for people born abroad unconstitutionally establishes two classes of Canadians. Recognizing the profound impact of this decision, Minister of Immigration Marc Miller announced in January 2024 that the government would not appeal the court’s decision. Instead, they would work to amend the Citizenship Act in accordance with the ruling.

Deadline for Legislative Change

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice granted the government until June 19, 2024, to amend the Citizenship Act. This deadline underscores the urgency of addressing the constitutional issues identified by the court and ensuring that all Canadians, regardless of where they are born, have equitable access to citizenship.

New Legislation on the Horizon

In response to the court ruling and dissatisfaction with the slow progress on Law S-245, which aims to address similar issues, the government has drafted new legislation. Canada’s leading news publisher, The Globe and Mail, reported on the government’s efforts to expedite the process by writing a new law that aligns with the court’s decision and meets the June 19 deadline.

Minister Marc Miller’s announcement reflects a commitment to modernizing Canadian citizenship laws and addressing the inequities faced by Canadian families with children born abroad. By eliminating the first-generation limit, the new legislation aims to ensure that Canadian citizenship can be more readily passed on, thereby reinforcing the values of fairness and inclusivity that are core to Canada’s identity.

Minister Marc Miller’s initiative to amend the Citizenship Act represents a crucial step in addressing the inequities faced by Canadian families with children born abroad. By tackling the “first generation limit,” the proposed legislation will help to ensure that Canadian citizenship can be more readily passed on, reflecting the values of fairness and inclusivity that are core to Canada’s identity. As this legislative proposal makes its way through Parliament, it stands as a beacon of hope for many, promising a more inclusive future for Canadians worldwide.

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