March 30, 2018 4:51 pm

B.C. says it’s concerned about ‘birth tourism.’ It’s still not cracking down

WATCH: Petition against 'birth tourism' gains steam

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B.C. won’t take any action against so-called “birth tourism,” despite concerns from Richmond residents and a local MP, said the province’s health minister.

Birth tourism is a practice that sees pregnant women travel to a country in order to give birth, thereby securing citizenship for their child.

Critics have launched a parliamentary E-petition against the practice, which they say can be used to “gain access to Canada’s publicly subsidized post-secondary education system” and the country’s public health care system, “all without having to contribute much to the funding of these systems and programs.”

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READ MORE: ‘Birth tourism’ uses Canadian hospitals to make non-resident babies into citizens: petition

Wwhile that the province does have concerns about the practice, it’s up to the federal government to make changes, said Health Minister Adrian Dix.

“The responsibility and role of the health care system is to provide services. The responsibility of federal members of parliament is to deal with issues such as immigration and I appreciate that they may be raising them, but that’s their responsibility,” he said.

“So we’re doing what we think needs to be done.”

LISTEN: Concerns over so-called ‘birth tourism’

There were 384 babies of non-resident parents born at Richmond Hospital between 2016 and 2017, and Steveston-Richmond East Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido said one in five babies born there in 2016 were to non-resident parents.

However, immigration lawyer Richard Kurland told Global News that birth tourism numbers have been stable for years, and that apparent growth has been driven by new definitions of non-residents.

READ MORE: Government hiring outside contractor to create Canada’s new citizenship test

Dix said that despite the concerns, so-called “birth tourists” aren’t having a negative impact on the province’s health services.

“Some people have expressed some concerns that there isn’t space at times. But that is something that is a rare proposition here in Vancouver Coastal Health. So we’re concerned about it. We don’t support it in any way as a government,” he said.

The petition called on the House of Commons to make a public statement opposing birth tourism, to determine the full extent of the practice throughout Canada and implement measures to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate the practice.

It remains open until July 17, and nearly 5,800 people have signed so far.

  • With files from Sasha Zeidler

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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