November 26, 2018 – New figures show Canadian birth tourism numbers are much higher than official figures suggest.
A study by Policy Options author Andrew Griffith found that while Statistics Canada reported 313 births to mothers residing outside Canada in 2016, the actual number could be more than five times greater.
It means the issue – where non-resident women intentionally come to Canada to give birth to secure citizenship for their babies – is significantly more serious than many had believed.
“The impact of this practice can no longer be described as insignificant given its effect on the integrity of citizenship and public perceptions that birth tourism is a fraudulent shortcut to obtaining citizenship,” Griffith writes.
The discrepancy came to light when non-resident birth figures produced by a single health facility – Richmond Hospital in British Columbia – exceeded the officially reported numbers for the whole of Canada.
Griffith used numbers from the from the Discharge Abstract Database (DAD) of the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which showed there were 3,223 non-resident births in Canada in 2016.
This figure is not representative of birth tourism alone, as it also includes other temporary residents (including corporate transferees and international students) and Canadian expatriates returning to give birth. The total also does not include Quebec, which refused to release the information.
But it does show birth tourism is not only a bigger problem than first thought, it is also a growing problem.
Griffith’s DAD figures show an increase from 1,354 non-resident births in 2010 to 3,628 in 2017, an increase of nearly 170 per cent in seven years.
In 2017, non-resident births accounted for 1.2 per cent of all births in Canada.
When Griffith broke the data down by hospital, he found some where more than 10 per cent of births were to non-resident mothers.
But why such a large difference between official data and the DAD figures? Griffith writes: “The likely explanation for the discrepancy between hospital financial data and vital statistics agency data is that birth tourists use their real addresses for hospital payments but their temporary Canadian addresses on birth registration forms.”
The new numbers are likely to interest Canadian politicians. It was the subject of a recent Liberal MP petition, while the Conservatives passed a resolution to withhold citizenship from children without a parent with Canadian citizen or permanent residence.
US President Donald Trump also says he wants to stop citizenship by birth.
Griffith offers three potential solutions to help tackle the issue:
1) Make birth tourism grounds for visitor visa refusal
Griffith suggests introducing a question about intent to give birth on the visitor visa form, with visa officers given power to request a pregnancy test in high risk cases.
A woman who has not declared her pregnancy could be found guilty of immigration fraud, with the child’s citizenships subsequently obtained fraudulently.
While the approach would create a deterrent, it would be difficult to enforce, Griffith says.
2) Qualified birthright citizenship
Canada could copy Australia’s 2017 move to change its citizenship act to introduce qualified birthright citizenship. This would mean a person born in Canada only gets citizenship “if the parent is either a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident and if the child has lived in Canada for 10 years after birth.”
The downside to this approach would be costly changes to the way births are registered, with parental pictures and proof of residence currently not required.
3) Regulatory and financial approaches
Griffith suggests taking financial action against non-residents who give birth in Canada. “While financial measures do not address objections to birth tourism in principle, they could discourage some birth tourism and would address the cases where birth tourists are not paying their hospital bills,” he writes.
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Montreal is now home to 4 million people. The latest population estimates from Statistics Canada upgraded the region’s population to 4,027,100 as of July 1, 2014. Greater Toronto’s population increased by a million to 6 million between 2013 and 2014.
Foreign immigrants have been the main driver of growth in cities as was seen in the recent past.
According to a release from the stats bureau, “International migration was responsible for just over two-thirds of the population growth of census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in 2013-2014. All CMAs with over 1 million inhabitants reported growth rates from international migration of 1 per cent or higher, accounting for most of their population growth (71 per cent).”
The metro areas that gained the most people continue to be in the Prairies and Western Canada, with Calgary, Edmonton, and Saskatoon seeing the most growth. Over one year, their populations grew by 3.6, 3.3, and 3.2 per cent, respectively. These metropolitan regions also boast the highest economic growth in the country.
The metro area with the largest loss of people was Saint John, N.B, which saw a decrease of 0.5 per cent. Montreal continues to see people moving to other provinces (interprovincial migration) and other areas of Quebec (intra-provincial migration). Between 2013 and 2014, the metro area had a net loss of 10,000 to other provinces, and 7,000 people to other municipalities within the province.
Losses in other large CMAs such as Toronto and Vancouver were the gains of smaller CMAs like Barrie, Ont. and Kelowna B.C. In Quebec, larger CMAs like Quebec City, Sherbrooke and Trois Rivières also had net gains.
However, Montreal gained 42,800 immigrants or 18 per cent of all immigrants to Canada. This is a decrease from past years which also saw a steady decline. Between 2012 and 2013, Montreal received 46,400 and 44,800 immigrants respectively.
Most Canadians by now are aware of the ‘erroneous’ report released by Statistics Canada according to which the economy had created only 200 jobs in the month of July. This week they have come out and acknowledged that it was a big mistake. Foreigners and international workers who are intending to work in Canada under a Canada based work visa, work permit or a related immigration project should be especially comforted by this development.
The reports released by Statistics Canada have data on everything from beer consumption in Alberta to mushroom farming in Ontario. But it is the monthly numbers on employment that seem to have the most crucial impact on the economy. These numbers are widely used by both the private sector and the government.
The international currency traders ended up pushing the Canadian dollar down by half a cent based on the July report and had to push it back up again after hearing of the error. Similarly, Ottawa has not been able to process any employment insurance claims and says they will do so only after they receive the revised numbers, since the eligibility for these claims depends on the local unemployment rate.
Considering the importance of this data to Canada, one wonders how such a huge error could be made.
According to Philip Cross, former Statistics Canada chief economic analyst, the reason is “summer vacation”. “When mistakes happen, they tend to happen in summer,” says Cross. “There’s less eyeballs and fingers pointing.”
Summer vacations also leads to fewer samples. In summer it is difficult to contact Canadians who are interviewed for the jobs survey as many of them are also away on holiday. “It corrupts your samples. You phone somebody and they don’t answer because they’re on holiday. So what do you do? You just have fewer samples,” says Cross.
However it’s not just the summer holidays that cause statistical imbalances in employment data. July and August are the months which see major changes in the jobs front. During these months, many high school and university students take up short-term summer jobs, and some switch from part-time jobs to full-time employment. Also several schools lay off their staff in the summer and rehire them in September in order to avoid dealing with the bureaucracy of vacation pay. For instance, in 2010, Statistics Canada reported that 68,000 teachers were laid off in July and retired in August. The problem is different for construction workers – their numbers go up in summer and drop in the winter.
Statistics Canada uses a process of ‘seasonal adjustment’ to update its data to compensate for these type of predictable changes. However if one looks at the unadjusted data from previous years, it shows how drastically things can change in the summer.
To understand how Statistics Canada made this big mistake, it is important to see how the agency collects its highly influential jobs data. To collect data for the monthly labour force survey, the surveyors have to go and knock on the door of 56,000 Canadian homes, which are chosen from the latest census data. They then quiz their inhabitants about their working lives.
Usually starting after the 15th of every month, the interviews take place during the same week every month. The answers are then analyzed and compared to baseline data on population and job market and then transformed into “representative” samples of the entire country. The answers are “weighted” to ensure they accurately represent their age, gender, occupation and where they live.
It is at this point that there is a big room for error. So that 56,000 people can accurately reflect the working lives of more than 34 million Canadians, the surveyors have to compare them against a baseline set of data of the entire Canadian population. The census provides these numbers – local population counts, numbers of workers in different age groups, number of people working in various industries etc. Whereas the labour force survey is done every month, the census is updated only once in five years. As a result Statistics Canada has to estimate the changes happening to the population and the job market in the intervening years.
And when the new census comes out, it takes time for Statistics Canada to update all of its statistical models and past data. It can take several years from the time the most recent census is released to the time they can be input back into the employment data. And the further we get from the previous census, the more guess work has to be done by Statistics Canada. The monthly job surveys of 2014 are using data based off the 2006 census. This implies that Statistics Canada is comparing the answers of 56,000 Canadians in July to a situation in Canada eight years ago and then taking a guess on how things have changed. This process will obviously leave a significant room for error, especially in those parts of Canada where there have been major population changes or industrial upheavals.
According to Statistics Canada, here is how the switch from 2001 to 2006 census affected its employment numbers in the provinces at the time:
In 2010, employment levels were revised downward by 1% or more for New Brunswick (-2.3%); British Columbia (-2.1%); Newfoundland and Labrador (-1.5%) and Prince Edward Island (-1.0%) whereas estimates for Alberta were revised upward, by 1.0%.
Eventually, Statistics Canada does go back to revise all of its past data to adjust it to reflect actual population changes and thus make it more accurate. However this process takes time. The next such update was due in January 2015, when all Canadian jobs numbers were to be revised so that they would be based off of the 2011 census.
There is a chance that it was this update that caused last month’s jobs errors. According to Cross, such errors are few and far between and that Statistics Canada’s data has actually been getting more accurate over the years. He also refers to former chief statistician Munir Sheikh as someone who really improved the efficacy of the agency’s data verification process, including tying the error rate to job performance reviews. Cross says that those processes have continued to improve under the new chief statistician Wayne Smith.
Statistics Canada’s most prized divisions are the ones that produce the three most important numbers in the country: the GDP (economic growth), the Consumer Price Index (inflation) and the Labour Force Survey. According to Cross, these divisions were spared from budget cuts and the CPI is actually on a hiring spree. Even the labour force survey was not affected by the Conservative government’s decision to swap the mandatory long-form census for a voluntary survey, since it’s based off of the short-form census, which is still mandatory.
The error in July numbers however show much our understanding of the job market still depends on ‘guessing’ and is therefore subject to plenty of human error and assumption. This is true of most of the data collected by Statistics Canada. “There isn’t one major data point that over time I haven’t seen a mistake,” Cross says. “It’s a huge place. It processes a lot of data. It’s full of human beings and human beings make mistakes.”
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
International workers who may be interested to work in Canada under a work visa, work permit or a related immigration program are invited to contact us and receive a free consultation of their qualifications.
Statistics Canada has restated its July employment report, saying there has been a miscount in the number of job losses. The agency says it was an isolated incident.
According to the agency, the July report did not count certain people as being in the labor force, as a result of which the number of full-time job losses in the month got inflated.
Last week, Statistics Canada issued revised data along with a statement. They mentioned few details about why the revisions were important but said that they were having an internal review and will publish the findings in the next two weeks.
The original July jobs report that was issued on August 8 showed that Canada had added only 200 new jobs in the month. However, the restated report mentions that the country had added 41,700 or more jobs which was more than double the market expectations.
“I am fully confident in the integrity of the labor force survey. This was an isolated incident. Statistics Canada does and will continue to publish high-quality and relevant statistical information on all aspects of the Canadian economy and society,” said Wayne Smith, head of Statistics Canada.
A scheduled upgrade of its system coincided with the July jobs report and failed to update one program, says Statistics Canada. The data agency called it a “human error”, and said that it only affected the results reported in the July release.
The error caused certain survey respondents, who should have been classified as employed, to be counted as not being in the labor force. This resulted in the agency estimating that there was a decline of 59,700 full-time jobs in the month of July. A revision of the data however indicates that the decline was closer to 18,000 full-time jobs.
Statistics Canada’s employment report is based on a survey of 56,000 households, conducted in the span of one week. The July survey was done between July 13 and July 19. Since the estimates are based on a sampling, the monthly figures will show more variability than trends observed over longer time frames, says Statistics Canada.
Attorney Colin Singer Commentary:
The miscount seems credibly explained and is an endorsement of the Canadian labour market. Recent developments seem to follow the improving US labour market. Canadian employers across Canada are expressing increasing concerns about labour shortages. This is especially the case in Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. It favours those interested in applying for entry to Canada under a work permit or Canadian permanent residence (Alberta immigration, Saskatchewan immigration and British Columbia immigration programs).
Source: Wall Street Journal
If you are considering relocating to Canada (Canada permanent residence or Canada work permit) and you want to improve your odds of getting a high-paying job after finishing your education, forget that English degree. A new report by Workopolis suggests that nursing and pharmacy students are most likely to gain employment in their field after graduation. The study, which analysed more than seven million resumes on the job search website, found that 97 per cent of those who studied nursing, whether it was at the bachelor, masters or PhD level, are working in jobs related to their education.
Other degrees that showed the highest return included pharmacy (94 per cent); computer science (91 per cent); engineering (90 per cent) and human resources (88 per cent). Although health-care jobs may be the most plentiful, the study also looked at data from Statistics Canada and found that engineering jobs were the highest-paying. Engineering graduates, on average, earned $76,000 as a starting salary, followed by health-care graduates with $69,600; computer science graduates with $68,000; and law and math graduates with $67,600.
Tara Talbot, vice-president of human resources at Workopolis, says that while students should follow their passions they should also be aware that their choice of study could affect how easy or difficult it will be to get a job. She says that it’s not surprising that skilled positions in the health industry are most in demand. Talbot adds that it’s also important to keep in mind that along with hard skills, like a specific degree or ability to operate certain programs and equipment, employers also value graduates with ‘soft skills’ such as communication, teamwork and problem-solving abilities.
“I believe that employers may not look just for someone with a degree in engineering, they look for people who have critical thinking skills, communicate well, and can problem solve. Often you get those through an education system, but also through experience.”
The study also suggests that Canadians are more educated now than they were in 2000, despite the majority saying their degrees are not relevant to their current jobs. Workopolis found that 16 per cent more people list a bachelor’s degree as their top level of education on their resumes in 2014, compared with resumes in 2000. Forty-three per cent more Canadians have master’s degrees listed on their resumes versus those in 2000, while 25 per cent have listed a PhD more than 14 years ago.
Despite spending longer in school, 73 per cent of those who recently answered a poll on the job site say their degrees are not related to their jobs. While over half believe they’re overeducated for their position. Between May 15 and June 2, over 3,600 people participated in the poll.
The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.
Source: HR Reporter