A new study came out last week suggesting the number of “anchor babies” in Canada, especially in Richmond, is much higher than previously expected, and MLA Jas Johal said he will introduce a petition to the B.C. government to “address the problem.”
An anchor baby is a term used to refer to a child born to a non-citizen mother at the time of the child's birth in a country that has birthright citizenship.
Policy Options magazine published a new study last Thursday from the Institute for Research on Public Policy, suggesting every year, there are 1,500 to 2,000 “anchor babies” born in Canada.
Among all the hospitals in Canada, Richmond Hospital has the highest volume of babies born to non-resident mothers – 469 last year, taking up Richmond’s number of such births to 21.9 per cent of the total births in the hospital.
“I’m glad this national organization was able to shed light on this issue. It acknowledges for the first time everything everyone suspected and builds on the reporting the Richmond News has done,” said Johal.
“Every level of government has to acknowledge the issue and work together. We can’t just be polite Canadians and not deal with it. It has nothing to do with political correctness, but got everything to do with our healthcare system, for and by Canadians. Period.”
Johal said he is very concerned about the birth tourism industry, which “is not only allowed to exist, but to flourish.” He is working with some local residents to put together a petition, which he will introduce to the province in spring.
“There is a whole industry built on marketing these practices, attracting these individuals, housing these individuals, making sure they get proper medical treatment and care services,” said Johal.
“What are the companies being set up to bring these women here? How much do they charge? What’s the money they make? We need to shine some sunlight into an industry that’s being done in the shadows.
“And there is cost to taxpayers. I know they pay for natural birth and C-section, but the potential capacity could be used for somewhere else in the health care system in Richmond.”
The petition, according to Johal, will ask the provincial government to acknowledge that birth tourism exists and have a public say that the government does not support it.
“It will also ask the government to take concrete measures, to eliminate or very much reduce the practice,” he said.
Johal said as an immigrant moving from India when he was little, this issue upsets him on the personal level.
“I value the Canadian passport more than anything in my life, but this fundamentally debases the value of Canadian citizenship,” said Johal.