However, some people actually do make their way to Canada. Not because of a new desire to expatriate, or seek political asylum, but to gain anchor citizenship for their soon-to-be newborn babies.
The subject has come to light most prominently in British Columbia where local citizens are frustrated by the number of Chinese nationals giving birth to babies for purposes of citizenship. In fact, Petition e-397 has been filed with the Canadian government by a Richmond, BC woman and endorsed by Richmond’s conservative member of parliament Alice Wong, stating the following:
• The Jus soli, or birthright citizenship, law of Canada enables an abusive and exploitative practice often called ‘Birth Tourism’, which permits expectant mothers who are foreign nationals, with no status in Canada, to gain automatic citizenship for their children born within Canada;
• All but one other developed country in the world has eliminated provision for birthright citizenship because of the widespread abuse it is open to; and
• The practice of ‘Birth Tourism’ can be very costly to taxpayers since it is used to ensure that after the child reaches 18 years of age Canada’s education system can be used at a publicly subsidised cost, and he/she can sponsor his/her parents and many other family members, thus taking advantage of Canada’s public health system and social security programmes such as OAS and the GIS.
The first includes those in Canada on a temporary resident document, such as a tourist visa, work or study permit. They come to deliver a baby “who by birth is then granted Canadian citizenship status.” They do not access Medical Services Plan-funded benefits and “they declare themselves as self-pay at hospitals and to doctors.”
The second category includes permanent residents properly enrolled in MSP, but at some point cease to meet the definition under the Medicare Protection Act. They return to their country of origin but remain enrolled in the MSP. They then return to B.C. to have a baby and since they still have MSP coverage, bills related to the mother and baby are billed to the plan. They stay long enough to obtain a birth certificate, a Canadian passport and enrolment in MSP for the baby before returning to their country of origin.
The problem does not seem to concern everybody. According to a 2014 press release, the BC Civil Liberties Association thinks that “eliminating citizenship by birth on Canadian soil would be a hysterical response to a handful of cases that, in statistical terms, amount to a rounding error.”
Speaking with Vice News, Josh Paterson, executive director of the BCCLA, said that “the fact that someone giving birth here is a foreign national does not mean it’s birth tourism. And there’s very little evidence to show this is a problem requiring action.” He went on to say “Changing our laws would be far-reaching and far costlier than whatever costs are being incurred by people without citizenship having babies.”
Petition e-397 counters that “The practice of ‘Birth Tourism’ can be very costly to taxpayers since it is used to ensure that after the child reaches 18 years of age Canada’s education system can be used at a publicly subsidised cost … thus taking advantage of Canada’s public health system and social security programmes.”
If you are Canadian, more specifically a resident of British Columbia, what are your thoughts? Is this as big a problem as Petition e-397 makes it out to be? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook.