Birth Tourism: Non-resident births 2019-20 numbers show steady increase

The 2019-20 numbers, obtained from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) for all provinces save Quebec, show an overall increase of about 7 percent compared to the previous year, with British Columbia showing an increase of more than 20 percent.

Quebec does not authorize CIHI to release their comparable data, unfortunately.

As non-resident numbers are a broader measure than those on visitor visas coming to give birth (e.g., students, temporary workers), my estimate is that about 50 percent are likely birth tourists.

It appears that the efforts underway by IRCC, CIHI and Statistics Canada to link healthcare and immigration data, that would allow identification of those on visitor visas from other non-residents, has stalled given shifting priorities due to COVID-19.

So these numbers remain the best we have.

Vancouver area hospitals (Richmond General: 24 percent, St. Pauls and Mount St. Joseph: 14.1 percent) continue to have the largest percentages of non-resident births, with an active cottage industry supporting women coming to give birth from China. While awareness of COVID-19 in China was greater and earlier than elsewhere, with a corresponding decrease in visitor visas issued and air travel, this did not impact non-resident births, likely given that plans were set.

2020 numbers, of course, are expected to reveal a sharp decline reflecting travel restrictions, particularly with respect to birth tourists on visitor visas.

Hopefully, the work to link healthcare and immigration data will resume shortly, not only to provide more accurate numbers with respect to birth tourism but to improve our understanding of healthcare and immigrants more generally.

My original article on how non-resident birth data provides a better indication of birth tourists, which provoked the government commitment for the aforementioned study, can be found here An analysis of hospital financial data shows that birth tourism is rising, and not just in British Columbia. Two of the critiques are: Revoking birthright citizenship would affect everyone and Birth tourism and the demonizing of pregnant migrant women.

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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.

One Response to Birth Tourism: Non-resident births 2019-20 numbers show steady increase

  1. Pingback: Chris Selley: Birth tourism is up again. Nobody likes it, but who will stop it?-National Post - EONTV

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