Ottawa Needs To Pay Immediate Attention To Birth Tourism Problems In Communities Like Richmond

Birth tourism seems to be happening in various cities all across Canada. However, Richmond seems to be the epicentre of this practice.Under existing Canadian law, a child born in Canada is automatically entitled to Canadian citizenship regardless of the status of his/her parents. It sends a wrong message to the rest of the world. We are telling the world that Canadian laws can be easily flouted or misused without any significant consequences.

By Balwant Sanghera

The on-going problem of birth tourism in communities like Richmond needs the immediate attention of law makers in Ottawa. Recent reports in the mainstream media have highlighted ads promoting benefits to would-be birth tourists to Canada. These ads highlight the multiple benefits and the ways to get Canadian citizenship by arranging to give birth to their child in Canada. As a matter of fact, these ads tout the ‘gift’ of Canadian citizenship in order to entice people.It is totally inappropriate and unacceptable that a number of individuals/organizations are taking undue advantage of Canada’s hospitality and lenient laws.It is about time for our federal government to wake up and bring in strict measures to stop this exploitation and abuse of our compassion and leniency.

Birth tourism seems to be happening in various cities all across Canada. However, Richmond seems to be the epicentre of this practice.Under existing Canadian law, a child born in Canada is automatically entitled to Canadian citizenship regardless of the status of his/her parents. It sends a wrong message to the rest of the world. We are telling the world that Canadian laws can be easily flouted or misused without any significant consequences.

If a foreign resident with deep pockets can buy Canadian citizenship for their new born children .A lot of countries in the world have already banned birth tourism. It is time for Ottawa to take action and stop this practice. In order to get Canadian citizenship for a child born on Canadian soil at least one of his/her parents must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. It is as simple as that.

Canada is a very inclusive, welcoming, compassionate and generous country. Unfortunately, quiteoften, this nation’s generosity is misused and even abused as has been happening in case of birth tourism.This issue has been a major concern especially in communities like Richmond. As Canadians we should all be concerned when our lenient laws, hospitality and compassion are not only misused but also abused by unscrupulous elements. Media reports indicate that birth tourism in Canada is increasing steadily. In B.C. alone, there was a 24% increase in births by foreign mothers to 837 babies in 2017-2018. These foreign mothers just come to this country to give birth to their children who will automatically become Canadian citizens. This entitles these Canadian born children to all of the benefits that Canadian citizens enjoy.

This issue transcends political party considerations. To their credit, both of Richmond’s Members of Parliament representing two of the major national political parties are opposed to this practice. Alice Wong-Progressive Conservative: Richmond and Joe Peschisolido- Liberal: Steveston-Richmond East have been urging Ottawa to stop this practice and have even presented petitions in this regard. Also, Jas Johal, M.L.A for Richmond East-Quensborough has been spearheading a campaign to put a stop to this practice and make appropriate changes to our citizenship regulations/legislation/rules. This is a wakeup call to Ottawa to take appropriate action in this regard promptly.

Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist.

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