Canadians demand action as birth tourism operators go global

By Lisa Tanh

Canadian citizens are demanding that federal government curb the practice of birth tourism as several underground businesses expand into global operations.

Kerry Starchuk, a Richmond resident and anti-birth tourism activist, highlighted that some global operations have offices in Canada and the U.S., such as and One local business has even received an award from the City of Richmond for their business contributions.

“It’s something that has been allowed to manifest into something bigger,” Starchuk said. “Companies blatantly advertise we’ll teach you how to lie and how to get into Canada. They’re professional people.”

On, various posts advertise giving birth overseas is one of the easiest ways to immigrate and how people can take advantage of government benefits, including employment insurance and the Canadian Child Benefit. They also encourage clients to give birth in Canada instead of the U.S. since the immigration policies are more relaxed.

David Chen, a former mayoral candidate and independent certified financial planner, said that some parents are buying properties in trust for a Canadian born baby to bypass foreign buyers tax and other government measures.

“This allows laundered money to continue to impact our real estate markets unfettered by these types of control measures,” Chen said. “It is illogical that other industries are required to report who the source of capital came from and how they acquired it when amounts over $10,000 are involved.”

Chen highlighted that the birth tourism industry needs to comply with these prudent practices to make it less vulnerable to money laundering and tax evasion. He estimates that the businesses have processed transactions up to a total of $450 million across Canada.

In the past, Chen and other participants in a group investigation uncovered court documents from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office on a birthing hotel operation. Investigators detected $4.5 million USD of currency transfers over two years and discovered evidence that real estate, luxury cars and goods were purchased with the money — all of which are trademarks of money laundering.



Yousif Samarrai, an SFU graduate who analyzed policy options to address birth tourism, recommends that the federal government make it mandatory for at least one parent to submit their social insurance number to obtain citizenship for their child.

“It works in the sense that you’re using an established process,” Samarrai said. “And realistically, if you’re in Canada without having or waiting for a social insurance number, what necessarily is your purpose here?”

Samarrai highlighted that implementing this policy would soil the plans of people who do not plan to contribute to Canada’s economy and birthing hotels’ business aspirations.

Starchuk and other Richmond residents are now asking their community to sign an online petition that asks the federal government to address birth tourism before it expires. The petition was sponsored by Conservative MP Alice Wong and will expire on June 30th.