OTTAWA — The new immigration minister is still considering a controversial option to allow new Canadians to take their oath of citizenship with the click of a button, but there are no immediate plans to implement it, he said Monday.
The government asked for public feedback in February about the idea to allow new Canadians to skip a virtual or in-person ceremony and opt instead to take the oath with the click of a mouse.
Consultation documents posted online say the new regulations were expected to come into force in June 2023, but the government has been mum about its plans since then.
The department is still mulling it over, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said Monday, and he thinks it’s a good idea.
“You don’t want to take these moments lightly, but we do need technological options,” Miller said on his way into Question Period.
“The department has been criticized, rightly, for not being adjusted to the 21st century and that option is one I think that we should preserve.”
It’s particularly important for people who live in remote or rural communities, who shouldn’t have to drive long distances to swear their oath, he said.
Earlier this year, then-immigration minister Sean Fraser pitched the idea as a temporary option to help work through backlogs of people waiting for their citizenship.
The change is expected to save people up to three months of processing time, the government consultation documents said.
The responses to that consultation offered mixed views on the idea: some called it a forward thinking approach, while others thought it would degrade the value of in-person ceremonies.
The department said in a statement Monday that the comments will “inform the next steps and the development of implementation plans.”
“I’ve heard from Canadians and advocates of the importance of actually being in person. I’ve also seen the importance of virtually, when there’s no question about someone’s loyalty or citizenship or oath or the seriousness he should take the Canadian citizenship,” Miller said Monday.