VANCOUVER -- Many B.C. residents are tuned into the practice of birth tourism in Canada and most want the federal government to launch an investigation into it, a new poll suggests.

According to a survey conducted by Research Co., 49 per cent of B.C. residents have been following media coverage of birth tourism – a practice of travelling to a specific country for the purpose of giving birth and securing citizenship for the child.

Canada is one of fewer than three dozen countries that follow the practice of citizenship based on birthplace and some – including Australia and Britain – have modified or ended automatic birthright citizenship in recent years

"Residents of British Columbia are more likely to be paying attention to this issue, partly because of the situation that has unfolded in the city of Richmond," said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., in a news release.

"Almost half of British Columbians (49 per cent) are following stories about 'birth tourism,' compared to just 34 per cent of Albertans."

But most B.C. residents polled don't have favourable views of the practice.

According to the survey, 77 per cent of British Columbians say they feel birth tourism can be unfairly used to gain access to Canada's education, health care and social programs. Meanwhile, 64 per cent worry that birth tourism could displace Canadians from hospitals.

Additionally, 67 per cent of those polled feel birth tourism "can degrade the value of Canadian citizenship," while 71 per cent agree with the statement that the practice of granting birthright citizenship may have made sense at one point, "but now people have taken advantage of existing rules."

With that, 82 per cent of B.C. residents said they agree with the federal government establishing a committee to investigate the extent of birth tourism in the country. Just eight per cent disagreed with the idea, while 12 per cent said they weren't sure. 

According to the nation-wide poll, however, support for a new approach to birthright citizenship in Canada is highest in Manitoba and Saskatchewan at 66 per cent. Alberta follows at 60 per cent, with B.C. standing at 56 per cent hoping for new regulations. 

Results are based on an online study conducted from Aug. 28 to Aug. 30, 2020, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

With files from The Canadian Press