B.C. moms turned away as birth tourism spikes at hospitals
With reports that more foreign women travelling to Metro Vancouver to deliver their babies, some local mothers feel like they're being pushed out of hospitals in Richmond by a "birth tourism" boom.
According to Vancouver Coastal Health, one in six babies born in Richmond are born to foreign mothers. These children will gain a lifetime of Canadian benefits, including automatic Canadian citizenship and free education when they turn five years old. Sometimes when hospital beds are full, local mothers are diverted to other hospitals.
There were 552 deliveries in Richmond Hospital between Aug. 12 and Nov. 3, 2016. During this same time period, there were 18 diversions to other maternity hospitals due to overcapacity issues.
New mother Yufei Ren had planned to give birth at Richmond Hospital but when she went into labour, the maternity unit was full. Instead, an ambulance took Ren 30 kilometres north, to Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, where her son Hugo was born.
“I [was] very nervous because it [was] my first time to deliver [a baby],” she told CTV News.
Dr. Xin Yong Wang, a family doctor, said he is being inundated with non-resident mothers looking for health care and called the phenomenon “a concern.”
“I have lots of foreign patients,” Wang told CTV News. “Over the last couple of years their numbers have increased significantly.”
Some of those foreign patients are being brought into Canada through underground industries, like one that targets Chinese women who want their babies to become Canadian citizens. Ads call Vancouver a “hot city” and offer up rooms in "birth houses" starting at $7,000 a month.
Kerry Starchuk told CTV News she lived next door to a birth house.
“It was a revolving door of pregnant women,” she said. “It's almost like you can pay your way in here and I don't think that's correct,” she said.
She wants the federal government to change the laws so that one parent must be a permanent resident before the baby can receive a Canadian passport.
There is speculation that a crackdown on birth tourism in Hong Kong and the U.S. may be sending more pregnant women to Canada.
This means more local mothers could be delivered an unwanted surprise when they show up at their nearest hospital.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Mi-Jung Lee