Evidence of meeting #23 for Citizenship and Immigration in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was citizenship.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Andrew Griffith  Director General, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Rick Stewart  Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Nicole Girard  Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Okay. Don't I need some financial means?

9:30 a.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Rick Stewart

You have to meet the usual sponsorship requirements.

9:30 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

Yes, which means if I so happen not to be working, I wouldn't be able to bring my child with me to Canada. Am I correct?

I could be permanently separated from my kid unless I have a very substantial amount of dollars to do this family class application. I've seen cases even with spousal applications where there are supposed to be no criteria for income level. I've seen spouses being turned down because the income level was not high enough. These are cases that would mean there's permanent separation between mother and daughter or father and mother with daughter or son.

9:35 a.m.

Director, Legislation and Program Policy, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Nicole Girard

I think it's important to say there is no desire here or intent to see families separated.

That being said, I think you raise the important issue of what happens if the one avenue of sponsorship isn't feasible because, for whatever the reason, the person may not meet the criteria to be eligible as a sponsor. The new statelessness grant of citizenship is there exactly for cases like that, where a Canadian parent, for whatever reason, may not be eligible to sponsor their child. Sponsorship is certainly a route we strongly recommend families consider, particularly because where the sponsorship route is feasible, once the child arrives in Canada, he or she is granted permanent residence and there is no waiting period to apply for citizenship.

Where that isn't feasible, then the other route that's open is the statelessness grant of citizenship. As Mr. Griffith has indicated, the department can issue a single-journey travel form to enable the child to have a travel document to travel to Canada. In addition, the department would also be able to issue a temporary resident permit overseas to enable that child to have a status for the three-year period of time in which they're required to apply.

9:35 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

That's totally discretionary, right?

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

Thank you, Ms. Chow.

Okay, very briefly.

9:35 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow Trinity—Spadina, ON

I mean it's discretionary. We see in subsection 5(4) that by the discretionary power you can say yes or no. You could get one if you are stateless, but you may not. It depends on undue hardship.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair David Tilson

I'll go to Ms. Grewal and then Ms. Wong.

June 16th, 2009 / 9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I do have a few questions here.

Many people were granted Canadian citizenship as a result of Bill C-37. Can you please tell us what types of people these would be?

9:35 a.m.

Director General, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Andrew Griffith

Thank you.

I think we've covered one case in terms of the border babies. That probably is a very common case. That's probably the largest group we've had. There may be other people in that situation. One of the things we don't quite know, just given the nature of the fact that the grant is automatic, is any firm numbers in terms of the people who may be granted citizenship.

We have some estimates in terms of those in the United States. There are apparently some 240,000 people who count in the U.S. census as indicating Canada as their country of origin. That gives one sense of the population. There are other estimates floating around in terms of the number of Canadians living abroad. Probably the border babies are the largest category.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

How many special grants for citizenship have occurred?

9:35 a.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

Rick Stewart

As a result of the coming into force of Bill C-37?

First of all, it is a proof of citizenship; it's not a grant. It's confirming citizenship status that always existed under the provisions of Bill C-37.

Secondly, these are still early days. It only came into force on April 17. At this point, we have not yet seen a large number of applications come in, but it is still early days. We will continue to monitor this, and at some point in the future it will be appropriate to update this committee in terms of how many people have availed themselves of the provisions under the act.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

You don't have the exact number of people who became citizens under Bill C-37?

9:35 a.m.

Associate Assistant Deputy Minister, Operations, Department of Citizenship and Immigration

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Not yet. Mr. Chair—