Should foreign mothers be allowed to buy their children citizenship by intentionally giving birth in Canada?

That's the question being asked by a Richmond woman fighting to eliminate birth tourism, backed by hundreds who've signed her petition and by a Liberal MP.

The online petition sponsored by Steveston-Richmond East representative Joe Peschisolido has garnered signatures from across Canada, including nearly 1,000 from B.C. by Wednesday morning.

The call for change was spearheaded by Kerry Starchuk, a community advocate who says the for-profit business of bringing in paying women to have children in Canada a serious issue with a rash of potential unintended and unknown consequences. The petition calls it "abusive and exploitative."

"I'd like them to study the issue and see the complications and then we can make the decision on birth tourism," the Richmond activist said.

Her petition also questions whether babies born in Canada, who are automatically Canadian citizens, should have access to health care and education.

"I would like a committed person to come and contribute and there's no document saying in 18 years how many people are going to arrive. Are we prepared for it?" Starchuk said.

About one baby a day is born at the Richmond Hospital to a foreign mother.

CTV News first examined the issue in 2016, when foreign mothers gave birth to one of every six babies born at the facility.

"Most of the doctors in China don't provide epidural," Dr. Xin Yong Wang told CTV News at the time.

"A significant minority of these patients are here for their babies to have a Canadian passport."

Two years ago, doctors raised concerns about local mothers being diverted to hospitals elsewhere in Metro Vancouver because the Richmond Hospital was too busy with so-called "passport babies."

The petition asks for research into exactly how big the problem is, and to eliminate the practice before it grows into a larger issue. It claims the practice of birth tourism is "fundamentally debasing the value of Canadian citizenship," and can be costly to taxpayers.

Those interested in supporting its cause can add their signatures until July 17.

With a report from CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos