Canadian law recognizes Birth Right Citizenship. By virtue of this, every child born in Canada is immediately given an automatic citizenship.
Birthright citizenship does not discriminate between babies born by non-residents and babies born by residents of Canada. As such, when a non-resident gives birth in Canada, their child is automatically registered as a citizen of Canada.
This citizenship grants the parents of the child easy entrance into Canada. The children are also entitled to post-secondary tuition fees at rates lower than that paid by non-resident students; they also are entitled to benefit from other social programs and can travel into Canada visa-free.
Because of the rigours in the standard immigration process, and in view of the advantages of Canadian birthright citizenship, many non-residents have taken advantage of this system to obtain automatic citizenship for their babies.
Non-resident mothers now obtain tourist visas for the sole purpose of taking trips to give birth to their babies in Canada. This new trend is referred to as Birth tourism.
Recent statistics have shown that birth tourism is rising fast in Canada. For example, data obtained by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) records a 13% increase in birth tourism in just one year.
The records were obtained from hospitals across the country, except Quebec.
The city of Ontario and B.C. had the highest records of non-resident births. Within the cities of Ontario and B.C., these hospitals recorded a large number of non-resident births:
- Richmond Hospital, BC
- Mackenzie Health – Richmond Hill, Ontario
- Scarborough and Rouge – Birchmount, Ontario
- Paul’s and Mount Saint Joseph, BC
- Joseph’s Health Centre, Toronto, Ontario
- Scarborough and Rouge – General, Ontario
- Trillium Health Partners, Mississauga, Ontario
- Trillium Health Partners, Credit Valley, Ontario
- North York General, Ontario
- Sinai Health System, Mount Sinai, Ontario
The recent increase in birth tourism is, however, causing a strain in the health care system of many hospitals in Canada. This is because non-resident births are not taken into account when hospital budgets are being drawn. Canadian hospital system does not make provisions for services rendered to non-resident.
As a result of this strain, there have been agitations and calls to end birthright citizenship in Canada. However, at the moment, some measures have been put in place to curb the increase of birth tourism in Canada.
One of such measure is the policy that requires non-residents to pay $15,000 upfront for prenatal delivery and post-natal care. The hospitals also bring additional charges for their services.