Birth Tourism: Considering the Enhanced Drivers Licence Approach

When the then Conservative government considered limiting birthright citizenship to those born to Canadian citizens or permanent residents in 2011-12, two options were considered: the federal government citizenship certificates to those entitled or incorporating citizenship information in birth certificates.

The latter option was preferred given the prevalence of birth certificates for identification purposes. My earlier article outlines the opposition to this proposed change (What the previous government learned about birth tourism).

This somewhat in-the-weeds piece looks at the earlier successful experience the federal government had with respect to the incorporation of citizenship information in drivers licenses in Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec (which later ended issuing Enhanced Drivers Licences given low demand), and what lessons that might have should a future government decide on curtailing birthright citizenship to children born to citizens and permanent residents..

What intrigued me in researching the matter was that the EDL experience did not appear to inform the subsequent birth tourism consultation and policy processes, even if it was the same group, my former team at IRCC, that was responsible for both.

The other interesting aspect was that governments over-estimated the demand for EDLs and thus provincial governments are essentially subsidizing their EDL programs and yet only Quebec cancelled their program.

Birth Tourism – The Enhanced Drivers License Example

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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