Canada could limit assistance to citizens abroad

Canada is considering residency requirement, taxes for citizens living abroad more than 5yrs or with dual citizenship
By Courtney Trenwith
Thu 16 Jan 2014 10:56 AM

Canada is considering limiting the rights of dual citizens who live outside the country or travel on a foreign passport, including not providing consular assistance.

Senior bureaucrats have advised the government that many Canadian passport holders had little connection to the country and were “citizens of convenience”, according to a briefing document prepared for the Foreign Affairs department and obtained by the national newspaper The Globe and Mail.

The advisers suggest the government impose conditions on dual-citizen Canadians living abroad so they have to qualify before receiving consular assistance.

They could be forced to pay more taxes or be banned from having a Canadian driving licence or bank account in the North American country.

The stricter rules are aimed at dual citizens but could also impact Canadians who live outside the country for more than five years.

It is estimated 2.8m Canadians live abroad, with at least 40,000 in the UAE.

“Consideration could be given to the feasibility of approaches used by other countries such as the imposition of a residency requirement or a tax contribution obligation as a condition to be eligible for assistance abroad,” senior civil servants say in the briefing book.

It also suggests placing restrictions on help given to Canadians with citizenship who travel abroad on another country’s passport.

“Consideration could also be given to differentiating levels of service provided to dual nationals who choose not to use a Canadian passport when travelling or living abroad,” the briefing says.

The suggestions have been made to help the country manage its scare resources as the federal government scales back spending in a bid to move out of debt by 2015.

Foreign Affairs has been asked to help Canadian citizens in 50 international crises in 36 countries in one recent 15-month period alone, the newspaper said.

The department says it is called upon thousands of times to help Canadians in trouble abroad, but the demands are becoming increasingly onerous.

“The sheer number, scope and complexity of consular cases and international crises … [and] the vagaries of country conditions where our citizens travel and live underline the importance of ensuring that the available consular resources are managed appropriately,” the briefing says.

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