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Monday August 17, 2020

Canada Expands Definition of “Parent” under the Citizenship Act

Authored by: Terrance G. Sheppard, QC Authored by: Scott T. McGirr Posted in: Family Law Immigration

On July 9th, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marco E. L. Mendicino, announced a change in the interpretation of “parent” under the Citizenship Act. The change now allows non-biological legal parents at birth to pass down Canadian citizenship to their child, with or without a genetic or gestational link to their children. The change is relevant to children born outside of Canada and the child acquiring Canadian citizenship by descent.  

The government says the change is a result of recognizing the diverse needs of Canadians. For example, many Canadians engage in assisted human reproduction (AHR), including surrogacy arrangements. Oftentimes, this results in children born abroad who are not biologically related to the Canadian parent.  

“In these cases, the birth certificate and/or documentation issued at the time of the child’s birth will be assessed to confirm the parent’s eligibility to pass down Canadian citizenship by descent,” as stated on the Government of Canada website. “For those who are not recognized as the legal parent at birth, but who have claimed a biological connection with their child, DNA testing or hospital records may be requested to support the biological connection.”  

The Minister also acknowledged how the change in interpretation will assist the LGBTQ+ community and those with fertility issues who have children through alternative avenues.  

Those wishing to pass down Canadian citizenship will need to provide the child’s birth certificate and birth records recognizing the Canadian parent(s) at the time of the child’s birth. Children born through AHR who do not have a legal parent at birth or biological connection with their Canadian parent(s) are not eligible for citizenship by descent.  

Lawyers at BOYNECLARKE LLP can help you navigate these legal issues. To speak with a member of our Fertility Law practice, contact Terrance G. Sheppard at For Immigration Law, contact Scott McGirr at  

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