‘Birth Tourism’ on the Rise in Canada: Immigration Research

‘Birth Tourism’ on the Rise in Canada: Immigration Research
A Canadian passport is displayed in Ottawa, in a file photo. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)
Isaac Teo

An estimated 2,500 cases of suspected “birth tourism” a year are are taking place on Canadian soil, according to a report by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

The report said the number of estimated deliveries by short-term visitors, i.e. “residual” deliveries, shows a sharp upward trend in recent years, “from around 800 annually in 2010 to around 2,500 in 2017.”

Numbers were drawn by cross-referencing immigration records with hospital births by foreign mothers who paid out of pocket for medical care under the category of “Other country resident self-pay.”

“[T]he advantage of this analysis is to identify and separate, when possible, the deliveries by Canadian citizens by birth, immigrants, temporary residents and short-term visitors,” wrote researchers of “An Examination of In-Hospital Deliveries Outside Quebec,” as first reported by Blacklock’s Reporter.

The report was published in September 2022 and the research period spanned from 2007 to 2018. Results showed that around 265,000 out of 285,000 yearly hospital deliveries (92–93 percent) were by mothers who are Canadian citizens or landed immigrants.
About 6,000 annual deliveries (around 1–2 percent) in recent years were by temporary residents (TR) in Canada. “[M]ore specifically, around 4,000 births were by temporary foreign workers, more than 1,000 by international students, and around 1,000 by refugee claimants and TR permit holders, annually,” researchers wrote.

‘Considerable Public Attention’

The report noted that birth tourism has drawn “considerable public attention” in recent years.

“There have been frequent media reports on the issue and there were also e-petitions that called on the government to implement measures to reduce or eliminate the practice,” it said.

“However, which births/deliveries in Canada should be attributed to ‘birth tourism’ has not been officially defined.”

According to Blacklock’s Reporter, the IRCC commissioned in-house polling in 2014–15, asking respondents whether the Canadian Citizenship Act should be amended to limit citizenship based on the immigration status of parents.

“Some say that Canadian citizenship should only be granted on an automatic basis to those born in Canada if their parents are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Others say that Canadian citizenship should continue to be granted on an automatic basis to anyone born in Canada even if their parents are only here temporarily or illegally. Which is closer to your view?” asked the survey, which was obtained by Blacklock’s through an Access to Information request.

Of the 3,028 Canadians who participated in the poll, 57 percent said they support the revocation of citizenship from children born to temporary residents or illegal immigrants. Only 39 percent supported the law as it stood, the poll found.

Under the 1947 Citizenship Act, babies born in Canada are entitled to full benefits as Canadians.