April 26, 2018 – The federal government has made important changes to Canada passport rules with the aim of protecting children under 16 and preventing the document being misused.
Key changes include giving power to the Canada immigration minister to issue without the need for an application or refuse to issue a passport to a child, if they believe it is in the child’s best interest.
The minister can also cancel a child’s passport if they believe it is in the child’s best interest
Under the changes, the minister is also given the power to refuse to issue a passport if they believe it will be used by someone other than the bearer.
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“The amendments address concerns raised by the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights that the Order did not do enough to help ensure the protection of children,” government notes alongside the order read.
The notes go on to highlight how cases arise where it is in the interest of a child to have a passport, but their parent or legal guardian is unwilling or unable to apply. This may occur where a child needs to travel to escape abuse.
“When determining the best interest of a child … the child’s physical, mental, cultural and emotional safety and well-being are considered,” the report reads.
There are also examples of cases when it is in the interests of the child to revoke their passport, such as if a child has been abducted and travel needs to be prevented.“A provision has been added to provide authority to refuse, cancel or revoke a passport issued to a child if the minister has reasonable grounds to believe that it is in the child’s best interest,” the report reads.
The latest changes come after the federal government implemented gender neutrality on passports and other immigration documents in August 2017.
Those who do not identify as male or female can now indicate their gender with an ‘X’.
The move comes after the Canadian Human Rights Act was amended to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.
The Canadian government says it will work towards a ‘consistent federal approach’ when it comes to gender neutrality.
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