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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 child.

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 NDP 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 NDP 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 NDP Trinity—Spadina, ON

That's totally discretionary, right?

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Thank you, Ms. Chow.

Okay, very briefly.

9:35 a.m.

NDP

Olivia Chow NDP 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 Conservative David Tilson

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

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

Not yet. Mr. Chair—

9:35 a.m.

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

Rick Stewart

It's probably less than.... I don't know. Do we know what the number is?

It's probably less than 100 so far, but it's still early. It's only four or five weeks, six weeks.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

Nina Grewal Conservative Fleetwood—Port Kells, BC

I would like to give the rest of my time to Ms. Wong.

9:35 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative David Tilson

Okay.

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

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond, BC

Good morning. Thank you very much for coming.

This is a question for Mr. Griffith or any one of you. As you stated in your earlier introduction, Bill C-37 was passed unanimously by both houses of Parliament and then received royal assent on April 17, 2008. Were these issues, which were brought to today's committee, brought up to any of you previously by any of the witnesses you've seen here?

9:40 a.m.

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

Andrew Griffith

Mr. Chair, in response to that question, obviously when we were developing Bill C-37 a number of consultations took place with a number of organizations that have appeared before this committee. All aspects of the bill were discussed during the process of looking at the bill. Of course, the actions of this committee in reviewing the bill also provided an opportunity for members of Parliament and witnesses to comment on the provisions of the bill. The pre-publication period, in terms of the actual detailed regulations related to the bill, also provided another opportunity for stakeholders to review the provisions of the bill and provide comments.

So in a nutshell, yes, there were certainly opportunities for people to provide comments on the different aspects of the bill. And those were also taken into account as the bill made its way through the process.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond, BC

In other words, the committee then had already reviewed everything before they presented it to the House and the House unanimously passed it. Am I right to say that?

9:40 a.m.

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

Rick Stewart

I think, Mr. Chair, we were all in different jobs when the debate on this took place, so I'm not sure if any of the three of us could speak definitively on what we know about what was said and not said and debated. But I think our review of the record indicates that many of the issues that are currently being discussed, and certainly that were raised in testimony last week, seem to be the same kinds of issues as were under discussion and consideration when this bill was brought forward for deliberation and ultimate passage.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

Alice Wong Conservative Richmond, BC

So in other words, the previous committee should have or could have, by due diligence, reviewed all or raised all of the issues before they actually presented it to the House. Am I right to say that?

9:40 a.m.

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

Rick Stewart

I don't think we're going to comment on what the committee should have or should not have done--

9:40 a.m.

Some voices

Oh, oh!