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March 29, 2014

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act: Extending citizenship to “Lost Canadians”

On January 1, 1947, the first Canadian Citizenship Act came into effect. Before that date, a person who was born or naturalized in Canada was considered a British subject. The Citizenship Act of 1947 established who was, and who could become, a Canadian citizen.

In 2009, the Government of Canada implemented changes that restored or gave citizenship to the vast majority of people who had lost it or never received it due to outdated legislation including to some born before 1947. Yet a small number of “Lost Canadians” such as some first generation children born abroad to war brides and service men were still not eligible for Canadian citizenship.

The proposed amendments to the Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act include extending citizenship to most of the remaining “Lost Canadians” who were born before the first Canadian Citizenship Act took effect in 1947 as well as to their children who were born outside Canada in the first generation.

In practice, Bill C-24 would give Canadian citizenship to individuals who were born or naturalized in Canada as well as to those who were British subjects residing in Canada prior to January 1, 1947 (or April 1, 1949, in the case of Newfoundland), but who were not eligible for Canadian citizenship when the first Canadian Citizenship Act took effect. Retroactive citizenship for these “Lost Canadians” would date to January 1, 1947 (or April 1, 1949, in the case of Newfoundland).

The changes would also retroactively give Canadian citizenship to the children of these “Lost Canadians” who were born abroad in the first generation. Citizenship would also date to January 1, 1947 (or April 1, 1949, in the case of Newfoundland), or to the child’s date of birth if they were born after January 1, 1947 (or April 1, 1949, for Newfoundland).

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