OTTAWA – With new research showing that more children are born in Canada to foreigners than the statistics channel, the federal government is investigating the issue of "birth turmoil" hoping to better understand how many women travel to Canada to have children born Canadian citizen.
Using figures from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which captures billing information directly from hospitals, researchers found Andrew Griffith over 3,200 children born here to non-Canadian women in 2016 compared with the 313 infants registered by Canada statistics.
The result does not just indicate that the numbers are higher than previously reported, but that there is a growing trend, says Griffith.
"Data" shows the steady growth in the number of children born in hospitals to women residing in other countries, with absolute numbers and percentages, for all provinces except Quebec, "wrote Griffith in an article in Policy Options, published by the Institute for public policy research. "These born a total of just over one percent of all living births in English Canada."
"Not a widespread practice": Hussen
A petition recently submitted in parliament by Liberal MEP Joe Peschisolido urges Canada to take stronger measures to end childhood tourism and say it is abusing Canada's social welfare system.
Foreign Minister Ahmed Hussen responded by saying that his department has ordered research to get a better picture of the extent of the problem in Canada.
"Although these statistics indicate that this is not a widespread exercise, the Canadian government acknowledges the need to better understand the scope of this practice and its effects," Hussen said in his response, presented to Parliament.
The department has ordered CIHI to carry out this research.
The issue of so-called birth turmoil has polarized in Canada, with the liberals defending the current law that automatically provides citizenship to someone born in Canadian land except for children of foreign diplomats.
(Data) shows the steady growth in the number of children born in hospitals to women residing in other countries, with absolute numbers and percentages, for all provinces except Quebec.Andrew Griffith
Conservative party members approved a political resolution during its two-year convention this summer, calling on the government to cease childbirth citizenship "unless one of the parents of the child born in Canada is a Canadian citizen or permanent resident in Canada."
Leader Andrew Scheer said at that time that one of the goals would be to stop the woman who comes to Canada just to feed a child who will automatically have Canadian citizenship.
Harpers government considered the change policy
Other countries have ceased or changed their origin laws, including Great Britain, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, India, Dominican Republic, Thailand and Portugal. United States President Donald Trump has recently threatened to end childbirth in the United States, even though critics have argued that such a change could contradict the country's constitution.
Canada explored to change Canada's existing birth policy under Stephen Harper's conservative government. This work eventually found that any change in the law would have significant effects, according to a senior government official who spoke to The Canadian Press on the background.
Many Canadians – 40 percent or more – do not have passports and use birth certificates to prove their citizenship. Changing the right to citizenship would mean that they would need new forms of identification to prove their citizenship and receive state services.
A 2013 estimate hung the cost of changing the $ 20 million to $ 30 million, plus $ 7 million in additional costs for the federal government each year, the senior official said. He further noted that this did not cover costs to the provinces and territories, which would be even higher because they are responsible for more personal actions than the federal government is.
Andrew Francis Wallace via Getty Images TORONTO, 3 DECEMBER – Ahmed Hussen, Immigration Minister, Refugees and Citizenship Prior to Publication of the Federal Government's Plan to Speed Up the Live-In Caregiver Program Inventory by 2018, December 3, 2017. (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, 3 DECEMBER – Ahmed Hussen, Immigration Minister, Refugees and Citizenship Prior to Publication of the Federal Government's Plan to Speed Up the Live-In Caregiver Program Inventory by 2018, December 3, 2017. (Andrew Francis Wallace / Toronto Star via Getty Images)
The Conservatives did not change the policy. Neither the liberals, Mathieu Genest said, a spokesman for Hussen.
"The principle of birth on earth has been introduced in our legislation since the Canadian citizenship first came to existence in 1947. A change of this principle was planned by the Harper Conservatives, but abandoned after consulting expert councils," said Genest. However, the immigration department still wants a better understanding of what is happening.
Griffith said he was inspired to dive into the question of how prevalent birthraism is in Canada after he noted the number of non-residents born to Richmond Hospital in B.C. was disproportionate to the rest of the country, as estimated by Statistics Canada.
The data he collected from CIHI caught the number of mothers who paid out-of-pocket for their hospital bills, which was at least five times higher. He acknowledged that this would include Canadian foreigners and foreign students whose hospital expenses were not covered by Canadian medical practitioners.
It seems extremely criminal, even misogynistic, probably to say that no woman should become pregnant or be pregnant unless you are a permanent resident or citizen in Canada.Scott Campbell
Ontario Immigration Attorney Gordon Scott Campbell said that he has had several clients in recent years who have born in Canada while in the midst of legitimate refugee or immigration processes.
He said, for example, that some women with visiting status live with their spouses while applying for spousal sponsorship, and some refugees get pregnant or become pregnant while waiting for their claim to be processed.
"It seems to be extremely punitive, even misogynistic, probably to say that no woman should become pregnant or be pregnant unless you are a permanent resident or citizen in Canada," says Campbell.
"Are we talking about three people a year, four people a year, flying to Canada (to feed)?" he asked. "It is not certain that we even have evidence of it. There may be anecdotal evidence out there in media articles, but if we speak two or three people a year, it's hardly a national crisis that justifies the legislation."
Women can not be denied entry due to pregnancy
Vancouver Coastal Health, the authority that oversees Richmond Hospital, said Thursday that taxpayers do not pay for foreign born. The agency left its own statistics, which differed somewhat from Griffith's findings, but were also incapable of the number of foreign born in Canada reported by Statistics Canada.
Statistics Canada states that it generates data from demographic data provided by vital-statistics registries in the provinces and territories. The parents fill in these registry and are responsible for filing them with local registrars, the agency said. Griffith believes that statistics can record lower numbers of foreign born because parents place local addresses on these forms that are not their real permanent addresses.
As part of his response to Parliament, Hussen said that Canada does not collect information about whether a woman is pregnant when she comes into Canada or a woman can be legally denied entry only because she is pregnant or able to feed in Canada.
With files from Laura Kane in Vancouver
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