Birth Tourism: Non-resident self-pay 2018-19 numbers

Further to my article last year on birth tourism which used Canadian Institute for Health Information’s DAD to provide a more accurate indication of the extent of birth tourism than StatsCan/Vital Statistics agency date (Hospital stats show birth tourism rising in major cities), I have obtained data for the last fiscal year.

As per the earlier article, it is important to note the overall caveat still applies that non-resident self-pay covers a broader range of births than birth tourists: international students, Temporary Foreign Workers, and corporate transfers.
The increase in numbers, while notable, does not necessarily justify the costs associated with changes to the Citizenship Act to prohibit birth tourism but do continue to justify regulatory and other approaches to curb the practice.
My understanding is that IRCC’s work with CIHI and StatsCan to link health data with immigration records is ongoing. While the linkage will provide more accurate data, it is unlikely to change the overall trend of an increase.
The first slide shows the overall increase in absolute numbers as well as percentage of all live births for all provinces save Quebec (Quebec’s health ministry has not agreed to share its data through CIHI).
The second slide shows the breakdown by province, showing that Ontario and Alberta had the largest increase (Manitoba accounts for about one-third of the “other” category, and non-resident births in Manitoba increased by more than 50 percent).
The third slide looks at the 10 hospitals with the largest number of non-resident self-pay births for the past two fiscal years, by percentage and absolute numbers, the year-to-year change.
Mackenzie Health in Richmond Hill had the largest percentage increase of the top 10. Richmond, the epicentre of birth tourism in Canada, was relatively stable (the percentage increase is largely due to a lower number of total births.
Note: Percentage increases updated following methodology suggestions by CIHI.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

3 Responses to Birth Tourism: Non-resident self-pay 2018-19 numbers

  1. Robert Addington says:

    Birth tourism can be curbed without amendments to the Citizenship Act that would create serious political and administrative difficulties both federally and provincially.

  2. Andrew says:

    I agree. What would be your particular regulatory or other means? Advanced pregnancy grounds for visa denial, provincial regulations on birth hotels, requirement for high levels of medical insurance, increased non-resident fees?

    • Robert Addington says:


      Provincial or municipal regulation of ‘birth hotels’, and higher fees for foreign self-pay obstetrical patients, would probably be effective. VIsa restrictions on foreign pregnant women would be touchy politically.

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