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Bill C-71, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (2024)

Bill C-71, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (2024)


Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.


Remarks delivered on May 23, 2024 in Ottawa, ON.

Good morning.

I would like to begin by recognizing we are gathering today on the traditional and unceded territories of the Algonquin Anishnaabe People.

I am pleased to be joined by my colleagues Parliamentary Secretary Chiang, MP Zahid, MP Kayabaga, MP Dhaliwal, MP El-Khoury, MP Ali and MP Jenny Kwan. And I am also please to welcome Kathryn Burton and Carol Sutherland-Brown, advocates and parents directly affected by our announcement today. And Don Chapman from the Lost Canadians.

We can become citizens in different ways. Some of us are lucky enough to be born in Canada. Others are newcomers who chose Canada, join our communities and earn their citizenship – sometimes referred to as naturalized citizens.

And we have citizenship by descent: Individuals who are born outside of our country to a Canadian parent.


Canadians are such a diverse group, but we all share a common set of values, take pride in who we are and what our country stands for. We are welcoming, inclusive and generous. A country that supports human rights, equality and respect for all people.

There is no doubt that Canadian citizenship is highly valued and recognized around the world. We want our citizenship system to be fair, accessible, with clear and transparent rules. That’s why when issues arise around our citizenship laws, it is important that Parliament addresses them.

Changes to the Citizenship Act in 2009 imposed a first generation limit to citizenship by descent, which means that a Canadian citizen parent can pass on citizenship to a child born outside of Canada if they were either born in Canada or naturalized before the birth of the child.

As a result of the first generation limit, Canadian citizens who were born outside of Canada cannot pass on citizenship to their child born outside of Canada, and cannot apply for a direct grant of citizenship for a child born outside of Canada and adopted.

Today we introduced Bill C-71.

The proposed legislation will extend citizenship by descent beyond the first generation in a way that is inclusive and upholds the value of our citizenship. If passed, the Bill extends automatic citizenship to anyone who was born outside of the country to a Canadian parent before the legislation comes into force.


We also introduced amendments to respond to issues raised at Parliamentary committees, as well as in the courts. They will restore citizenship to those we call “Lost Canadians.” That could be someone who was never able to become a citizen, or lost citizenship, because of previous and outdated legislative provisions. While the Government previously brought forward changes that fixed the status of most Lost Canadians, a small, impacted cohort remained.

These changes will address most, if not all, of the Lost Canadians and their descendants, seeking to regain their citizenship. The changes also address the status of Canadian descendants who were subject to the first generation limit.

Today’s legislation also proposes clear rules for acquiring Canadian citizenship by descent. Once it becomes law, the first-generation limit will no longer be valid and individuals will have to prove that they have a substantial connection to our country.

Under the new legislation, children born abroad to a Canadian citizen who was also born outside of 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 has accumulated three years of time spent in Canada before the birth of the child, they will be able to pass down their citizenship to their child.

Finally, we wanted to take this opportunity to continue to minimize differential outcomes, as much as possible, for children born abroad and adopted by Canadians, compared to children born abroad to Canadians. Any child adopted abroad by a Canadian parent before the coming into force date of the legislation will be able to access a grant of citizenship, even if they would have previously been excluded by the first generation limit.


And for children born abroad and adopted by Canadian citizens, the same test will apply once the legislation comes into force. If the adoptive parent who was born outside of Canada can demonstrate their substantial connection to Canada, the adopted child will be able to access a grant of citizenship.

Bill C-71 will restore citizenship to those who had lost it, and it will create a clear and consistent process for the future for our rules for citizenship by descent.

The amendments build on the good work the House of Commons and Senate have done on Bill S-245, while improving on the proposals in the Senate Public Bill, and comprehensively addressing the issues raised by the Courts.

Canadian citizenship is part of our identity, something that connects us around shared values of democracy, equality and inclusion. With today’s legislation, we are working to provide a better Citizenship Act.

I will now pass it over to MP Kwan.

Thank you.


Link:, dated May 23, 2024 3:00 pm

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