May 23, 2013

Bill 35: Québec Ombudsman supports provisions concerning new powers granted to the Directeur de l'état civil

Press Release in PDF

Québec City, May 23, 2013– The Québec Ombudsman has expressed its satisfaction with changes proposed by the Minister of Justice in Bill 35, concerning new powers granted to the Directeur de l’état civil with regard to delivering sex change certificates and death certificates. These changes follow through on requests made in the Québec Ombudsman's 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 annual reports. The Ombudsman has also issued recommendations concerning two other matters.

Changes made to reflect recommendations from the Québec Ombudsman

In 2006-2007, the Québec Ombudsman recommended to the Ministry of Justice: That the Civil Code of Québec be amended so that a person born in Québec can ask the Directeur de l’état civil for a certificate of change of designation of sex even if he or she is no longer domiciled in Québec. The following year, the Québec Ombudsman made a formal request to the Ministry of Justice for a legislative change allowing the Directeur de l’état civil to issue a death certificate without obtaining a declaratory judgment of death.

In a letter to the president of the Commission des institutions, Québec Ombudsperson Raymonde Saint-Germain expressed her satisfaction with these changes, which would allow the Directeur de l'état civil to issue these certificates. She did, however, draw the Commission's attention to two other civil status issues which, in her opinion, require changes to the Civil Code of Québec.

Recommendations concerning two other issues

1. Change of family names of newborns:

In the specific case of changing the family name of a newborn (for example, the request may come from a father who, in keeping with custom in his country of origin, wishes to feminize his daughter's family name), the Québec Ombudsman feels that the parents should be relieved of the requirement to publish a notice. The publication of this notice is to protect third parties who might have financial ties with the person who is changing their name. The Québec Ombudsman is of the opinion that publishing such a notice is of no value in the case of a newborn and that it entails a needless expense for the parents. For this reason, it recommends:

That the Civil Code of Québec be amended to exempt the parents of a newborn less than six months old from the current publication requirements. For this purpose, Articles 63 and 67 of the Civil Code of Québec should be amended to add an exemption from publication in the case of an application for a change of name for a newborn by administrative process.

2. Canadian citizenship and sex change

Since the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec covers the cost of sex reassignment surgery, not only for Québec citizens but also for permanent residents, the Québec Ombudsman feels it would be consistent for these people to be able to obtain legal recognition for their change of sex designation and given name. Consequently, it recommends:

That the Civil Code of Québec be amended so that permanent residents domiciled in Québec and who have undergone the operations required for a sex change can avail themselves of the provisions of the Civil Code regarding the change of given name and designation of sex.

As set out in its mandate, the Québec Ombudsman reviews all draft bills and regulations. When necessary, it intervenes under section 27.3 of its Incorporating Act, which gives it the power to call to the attention of the Government the need for such legislative, regulatory or administrative reform as deemed to be in the public interest.

To be consulted:


Carole-Anne Huot, communications consultant
418 646-7143/418 925-7994

Joanne Trudel, director of communications
418 644-0510/418 580-9259