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It’s called “birth tourism” or having “passport babies”. It’s when pregnant foreigners travel to Canada for the sole purpose of having the baby born in this country.
Ther reason is that currently Canada adheres to a policy known as “jus soli” in Latin, loosely translated as “law of the soil (country)” meaning if you’re born here, you get automatic citizenship.
With the general election coming in Canada within a year, the opposition Conservative Party has voted at its recent convention to end such birthright citizenship.
The CBC reports a statistic from a Richmond, British Columbia hospital indicating that in 2016 over 17 per cent of births there were to non-resident mothers, but in 2017 that figure rose to over 22 per cent of births.
There is increasing concern that people are deliberately coming to Canada specifically to get a Canadian passport and its social benefits without having contributed to the country.
Quoted by CTV news “Elena” a pregnant Russian woman staying in Toronto said, “My baby will get Canadian citizenship upon delivery and also with a Canadian passport he will get some benefits like free school and free healthcare,”
An obstetrician in Calgary noted in the 2016 article that there were about 10 “passport babies” born in that city every month.
A search reveals many companies abroad that promise to advise and help women give birth in Canada.
There are immigration consultants in Canada also willing to help people seeking a passport baby.
The costs involved to have a baby for a foreigner can range from $10,000 to $20,000. However, hospital staff note that in many cases, the women and child leave without paying and the hospital and Canadians are stuck with the bill.
Dr. Saul Pytka, a Calgary anesthesiologist, said he’s alarmed by the issue, “I am frustrated — and I have to be honest, angered — by the fact that as a society we are being abused”.
Almost immediately after the Conservative party vote this past weekend, the leader of the socialist New Democratic Party, Jagmeet Singh in a tweet called the new Conservative position as a policy of “division and hate”.
However, most countries in the world do not recognize “jus soli”, including much of Europe, Africa, Oceania, and Asia. The U.K dropped it in 1981 as have Australia and New Zealand with all three now granting citizenship only if at least one parent is a citizen or legal resident.
In 2012, then Conservative minister of immigration Jason Kenney had wanted to end the practice called it an outdated idea from the age of steam when travel between countries was slow and costly, saying “With today’s inexpensive and rapid modern travel, someone can fly in for a couple of weeks, have a child and fly out, and otherwise never actually live in the country and have no intention of doing so”.
In 1998, the Liberals also advanced the idea of ending the practice, although Lucienne Robillard who had proposed the idea, switched positions the following year, praising it.
A 2016 petition to end the practice of jus soli gathered 10,000 signatures. The petition was started by a Vancouver woman who said the house next to hers was being used as “maternity motel for pregnant women from China”.