Study shows birth tourism much more prevalent in Canada than reported by StatCan

Click to play video: 'What is birth tourism and how birthright citizenship works in Canada'
What is birth tourism and how birthright citizenship works in Canada
WATCH: What is birth tourism and how birthright citizenship works in Canada – Aug 27, 2018

A new study shows that the number of births in Canada by nonresidents, known as “birth tourism,” is much higher than previously reported by Statistics Canada.

The study was done by Andrew Griffith for Policy Options, a policy think-tank.

Griffith explored the number of births through hospital discharge data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), rather than Statistics Canada’s data, which is derived from birth registrations.

What he found was that the level of birth tourism nationally in Canada is at least five times greater than the 313 births recorded by Statistics Canada in 2016, sitting at 3,223.

WATCH: New numbers show more ‘birth tourism’ in Canada than thought

Click to play video: 'New numbers show more ‘birth tourism’ in Canada than thought'
New numbers show more ‘birth tourism’ in Canada than thought

Statistics Canada’s data also showed the number of births by nonresidents decreased since 2012, but Griffith’s data shows it is steadily increasing.

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Under current Canadian law, anyone who is born on Canadian soil receives citizenship, even if your parents aren’t Canadian citizens, but there has been concern that some are taking advantage of the law by flying to Canada specifically to secure citizenship for their children.

The Conservative Party of Canada voted to end the birthright citizenship policy at a party convention in August, making it likely a part of the party’s campaign platform in 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump has also announced a plan to end birth tourism in the U.S.

The federal government has announced that they are investigating birth tourism after the release of Griffith’s report.

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The hospital discharge data Griffith reported is based on services provided to “nonresidents,” which are coded in hospital financial data as “other country resident self-pay.”

However, Griffith notes that temporary residents, such as corporate transferees and international students, as well as Canadian expatriates returning to give birth in Canada, are also included in the data for nonresidents, which may make the number deduced higher than what is actual birth tourism.

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Refugee claimants and permanent residents who are within the three-month waiting period for coverage are not considered nonresidents.

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The data shows the most births to mothers who reside outside of Canada were in Ontario at 2,524 births in 2017, or 1.8 per cent of the province’s total births, followed by British Columbia at 689 births in 2017, or 1.5 per cent. In total, according to hospital data, birth tourism represented 1.2 per cent of total births in Canada, or 3,628 births.

The hospital with the most nonresident births is The Richmond Hospital in B.C., which has previously been reported as the epicentre of birth tourism in Canada. A petition from Richmond, B.C. that began in March received over 10,000 signatures calling on the federal government to end birth tourism, and received the support of Liberal MP Joe Peschisolido.

The second hospital with the most nonresident births is the Scarborough and Rouge Hospital in Ontario, with 163 nonresident births.

Griffith says in his report that the discrepancy between Statistics Canada’s data and the data he collected is likely due to birth tourists using their real addresses for hospital payments, but their temporary Canadian addresses on birth registration forms.

WATCH: Conservatives look to end birth tourism in Canada

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Conservatives look to end birth tourism in Canada

The report outlines three different solutions for birth tourism.

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The first is to make birth tourism grounds for visitor visa refusal, and can be identified by including a question about intent to give birth on the visitor visa, and any person who has not declared this as the purpose of their visit could be found guilty of fraud, making the child’s citizenship fraudulent.

Second, to introduce qualified birthright citizenship similar to what Australia did in 2007, which could specify that a person born in Canada is a Canadian citizen only if the parent is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident and if the child has lived in Canada for 10 years after birth.

Finally, the report suggests financial action against nonresidents attempting birth tourism to discourage it, such as hospitals requesting substantial deposits from nonresidents.

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