For immediate release
6 February 2014
Citizenship bill makes Canada less welcoming towards newcomers
The Canadian Council for Refugees expressed its concern today over provisions in the citizenship bill (Bill C-24) tabled today that would strip citizenship from dual citizens in certain situations.
“Citizenship is a fundamental status – not something that is ‘deserved’. It is wrong to use citizenship rules to punish people for wrong-doing – that’s the role of the criminal system,” said Loly Rico, President. “Treating dual citizens differently is discriminatory and violates the fundamental principle that all citizens are equal.”
The CCR also opposes the proposal to make permanent residents wait longer before they can apply for citizenship. Extending the wait period undermines efforts to integrate newcomers.
Offering citizenship is a key way Canada embraces newcomers and encourages them to quickly become full participating members of our society. Traditionally this has been an area where Canada excelled.
However, recently there have been increasing barriers to citizenship, many of which have a particular impact on refugees who have suffered persecution and long years of deprivation. Existing barriers include new requirements regarding language competence, the extra and very onerous Residence Questionnaire now imposed on more applicants and long processing delays.
The announcement today adds new barriers that are of particular concern for refugees, including an increase in fees (up to $400 effective today) and extending language and knowledge test requirements to more applicants (14-64 years, from 18-54 years).
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Colleen French, Communication and Networking Coordinator, Canadian Council for Refugees, 514-277-7223, ext. 1, 514-476-3971 (cell), email@example.com