OCASI Comments on Bill C-6 - Citizenship Bill
Debbie Douglas, OCASI Executive Director appeared before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration to make a presentation and answer questions about our submission on Bill C-6 - An Act to amend the Citizenship Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act.
Bill C-6 was tabled in Parliament by Minister John McCallum on February 25, 2016. It reverses many of the changes introduced by the previous government through Bill C-24 that served to limit citizenship access for many.
OCASI welcomes the proposed changes, and made the following recommendations to strengthen the Act:
OCASI supports reducing the residence requirement. OCASI does not support the strict physical presence requirement. We recommend that a citizenship judge should be allowed to exercise flexibility to approve an application when an applicant has met all other requirements, and a compelling reason for missing certain days of physical presence in Canada – particularly for applicants who are otherwise stateless.
Language and knowledge tests for young and older applicants
OCASI supports limiting language and knowledge tests to those aged 18-54 years. OCASI recommends that particularly older applicants should be allowed the use of an interpreter in the interview with the Citizenship Judge. The Council also recommends that the requirement for upfront proof of language ability should be eliminated, and the Citizenship Judge given the flexibility to determine the applicant’s language ability and knowledge of Canada through an interview.
Other Amendments in Bill C-6
OCASI supports removing the grounds to strip citizenship from dual citizens for reasons of national security. OCASI also supports removing the requirement of intention to reside in Canada.
Other Recommendations not in Bill C-6
OCASI made the following recommendations to address other concerns not mentioned in Bill C-6:
- Citizenship fees should be reduced immediately. There should be discretion to waive the fees for those who can never afford to pay such as certain applicants on social assistance, including those with disabilities.
- Youth who meet all the other criteria, but don’t have a parent or legal guardian in Canada should be allowed to apply and gain citizenship.
- Access to citizenship should be reviewed and amended with a view to removing all barriers that discriminate against persons with disabilities, including an upfront exemption from requirements such as the language and knowledge test.
- Restore the right of citizenship to the second generation born abroad.
Click here for written transcript of the Standing Committee appearance on April 14, 2016.
Click here for the Audio recording of the Standing Committee appearance on April 14, 2016.