Passport for Thunder Bay Woman Denied Due to Lack of Name Change


Priscilla Savas was born Priscilla Cabana, but had a different name growing up, and that's causing her problems at Passport Canada. (CBC)
Priscilla Savas was born Priscilla Cabana, but had a different name growing up, and that’s causing her problems at Passport Canada. (CBC)

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A Thunder Bay, Ont., woman says new security measures, created by the federal government last fall, are preventing her from getting a passport.

Priscilla Savas says she was told by Passport Canada she wasn’t eligible for a passport because her birth name doesn’t match any of her photo identification.

Savas was born Priscilla Cabana. Her adoptive parents never legally changed her last name from Cabana to the family name, even though they used their family name on all of Savas’s identification while she was growing up.

Savas asked that her adopted family’s name not be made public.

She eventually got married, and took the last name Savas.

Passport Canada says in a statement sent to CBC that new security measures implemented in October 2014 require a person’s birth certificate to match the name on the passport in order for one to be issued.

“As of October 20, 2014, the name inscribed in a passport must be the same name on the applicant’s proof of Canadian citizenship (i.e. Canadian Birth Certificate or Canadian Citizenship Certificate). This strengthens the ability of Canada’s Passport Program to confirm the identity of applicants and to reduce the risk of fraud,” Passport Canada said in an email.

Photo ID required

According to the federal government’s website, adults need to provide at least one document to support their identity with a passport application.

The identification document must:

  • Include your name.
  • Include your sex.
  • Include your date of birth.
  • Include a photo of yourself.
  • Include your signature.
  • Be issued by a federal, provincial/territorial/state government authority or equivalent abroad.
  • Be valid.

Savas has no photo ID that matches her birth name of Priscilla Cabana.

Savas says it’s puzzling she can collect payments from the Canada Pension Plan, but can’t get a passport.

“I was born in Canada, I’m a citizen in Canada. I worked in Canada, paid my income tax in Canada. I’ve obeyed the laws of Canada,” Savas said. “I feel that I have certainly earned the right and or the privilege, whatever they want to call it to travel where I want to travel and obtain a passport.”

Savas said she has the options of reapplying for citizenship or paying for a legal name change. Both options come at a financial cost Savas refuses to pay.

A short-form replacement birth certificate in Ontario costs $35 and long-form Ontario birth certificate costs $45 to replace.

Savas also notes that she’s always been a Canadian citizen, so she feels she shouldn’t have to re-apply for citizenship.

‘Have to make exceptions’

John Rafferty, who is running for the NDP in Thunder Bay-Rainy River, says the issue could be addressed, if the federal government created logical security measures.

“Unfortunately we’ve seen with Bill C-51 and a number of other legislative items that have come forward from Mr. Harper that life gets more difficult. It’s almost as if Mr. Harper doesn’t trust Canadians,” Rafferty said.

Liberal candidate Don Rusnak says there needs to be room for policy exceptions.

“The problem with the Conservatives is … they deal in absolutes and the world is not like that. A lot of people know the world is not like that. We have to make exceptions,” Rusnak  said.

Conservative candidate Moe Comuzzi did not return CBC’s calls.

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One thoughtful comment

  1. Very good written story. It will be supportive to anybody who uses it, including myself. Keep doing what you are doing – looking forward to more posts.

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