Canadian hospital is suing a Chinese woman for nearly $1 million after she skipped out on her bill following an extremely expensive birth.
The woman, Yan Xia, experienced serious complications while giving birth back in 2012. Because she was a non-Canadian resident, the Richmond Hospital claims that she agreed to pay non-residential rates with her maternal and neonatal care tallying up to a bill of CAD$313,000 ($238,000). However, rather than paying up, Xia instead took her baby and fled the country. Since then, the amount she owes has continually increased due to a 2 percent monthly interest rate, leaving the woman now CAD$1.2 million ($920,000) in debt to the hospital.
The Vancouver Health Authority filed a lawsuit against Yan in April. However, she has yet to respond to the court.
Under Canadian law, any child born in Canada is considered a Canadian citizen. In recent years, this has caused a significant rise in the number of wealthy and pregnant foreigners traveling to the country, as well as the creation of so-called “birth houses,” which allow non-resident mothers a place to stay before and after they give birth. This “birth tourism” industry is mainly centered around the coastal city of Richmond in British Columbia.
According to the Richmond News, a decade ago there were only 18 non-resident births a year at the Richmond Hospital. That number has since ballooned to 379. While the nationality of mothers is not something that is routinely tracked, hospital officials say that Chinese nationals account for around 98 percent of these births.
There is nothing illegal about the “birth houses”—their services are even openly advertised in China by specialized tour groups charging a hefty sum—nor is it illegal for a foreign woman to travel to Canada to give birth, however, some locals have created petitions calling for the bustling birth tourism business to be brought to an end.