Health circles and the Canadian media have recently unveiled the so-called “illegal medical tourism scandal”, with foreign women carrying babies in their own country and giving birth at Canadian hospitals. They receive a tourist visa by circumventing the immigration laws, for the apparent reasons of visiting a relative or attending a wedding or art festival or to visit the country’s landmarks, and within them to receive two things: one is obstetrics in a hospital.
The Canadian Health Regulations allow the reception of foreign women and the delivery of their babies, particularly in emergency situations. But they leave the hospital surreptitiously, without paying any bills or extra according to commentary to a Canadian newspaper, which entails hospital and related expenses, but more importantly, the arrival of a foreign baby getting Canadian citizenship. These women know that Canadian law allows a child born on Canadian territory to obtain citizenship.
Although Canadian immigration laws prohibit pregnant women from obtaining a tourist visa, some women circumvent this prohibition in a smart and deliberate manner.
For example, a woman avoids the procedures for obtaining a visa and completing travel transactions after the first months of pregnancy, so as not to show signs of pregnancy. When she receives a tourist visa, she becomes more cautious and tries to hide the fact that she is pregnant.
The same scenario is repeated when she boards the plane and arriving in Canada, and stay there until the day of birth, knowing that the expiration of the visa makes it illegal. Such abuses of Canadian laws also appear to be practiced by asylum-seekers who have not received legal status for permanent residence.
In this context, it is reported that “medical tourism” is not limited to a country in itself, but is a global phenomenon spread in European countries, the United States and others. For example, the Los Angeles and the International Herald Tribune reported that hundreds of women of different nationalities resorted to this method called “baby tourism,” hoping to obtain citizenship.
One common practice in Canada is that hospitals receive a request from a pregnant woman to book a room and determine the doctor who is giving birth. The Health Ministry reports that only four hospitals in the province of Quebec have conducted more than 700 births for foreign women. Hospital bills bear the costs and burdens not covered by the Ministry of Health, such as laboratory tests, radiographs, photographs, anesthesia, and doctors’ loss of professional dues. Operation costs of about $500 – meaning that the loss includes the entire health sector, hospitals, government, and doctors.