Volume #21 - 519.|
EUROPE AND THE SOVIET UNION
Memorandum from Minister of Citizenship and Immigration|
CABINET DOCUMENT NO. 228-55|
November 15th, 1955|
FINANCIAL MEASURES TO ASSIST IMMIGRATION|
1. During the first nine months of 1955, 86,607 immigrants have been admitted to Canada. This is approximately 32% less than during the corresponding period of 1954. Some of the reasons for this decrease appear to be the adverse publicity given in Canada and abroad to employment conditions in Canada last winter, the improved economic conditions resulting in a high level of employment in many European countries, and more complete social security benefits available in most European countries, particularly in the United Kingdom.
2. On December 14, 1950, Cabinet authorized the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to advance on a recoverable basis part or all the cost of transportation for immigrants whose services were urgently required.25 The Assisted Passage Loan Fund Regulations were promulgated as a result of Cabinet's decision, providing for the granting of loans to heads of families and single persons whose services were urgently required in Canada. These loans are repayable over a period of two years by monthly instalments, determined in relation to the immigrant's earnings and family circumstances.
3. Since its inception 32,255 persons had availed themselves of the Assisted Passage Loan Scheme up to the end of September, 1955. This represents an expenditure of $5,231,702.07 of which, by the end of September last, $4,874,754.36 had been collected; that is, for every dollar actually paid in loans, 93.2 cents had been recovered by the end of September, 1955.
4. It is significant that immigration to Australia is remaining at a high level and the important factor is undoubtedly the subsidized passages that are available under their assisted programme. It is believed that Canada should adopt somewhat similar arrangements if immigration to this country is to be increased to a useful proportion. In this connection, two proposals have been considered:
(a) Broadening the scope of the Assisted Passage Loan Scheme; and
(b) Participation in the British Empire Settlement Scheme.
5. Assisted Passage Loan Scheme
(a) It is suggested that loans under this scheme be made available to all immigrants and to wives and unmarried minor children of immigrants, and that the amount to be advanced be according to the needs and circumstances of each case. Under this plan, loans on behalf of dependents would be made whether or not the head of the family is himself taking advantage of the loan; but in the case of those who have preceded their family to Canada and who came forward by means of an Assisted Passage Loan, further loans with respect to the dependents would be made only if the head of the family was up to date with his payments.
(b) The period of repayment should be determined on an ad hoc basis, as in some cases the total amount of the loan, if it had to be repaid within a period of twenty-four months, might be a serious handicap to the proper establishment of the immigrant in Canada.
(c) It is believed that the main advantage accruing from a liberalized Assisted Passage Loan Scheme is that it would attract immigrants who are interested in migrating to Canada but have not done so because they are unable to pay transportation costs or are reluctant to leave their families behind or lack sufficient funds to make the move to this country as a unit. Another important advantage would be that any change in our policy with regard to Assisted Passages would certainly receive favourable publicity abroad which in itself would stimulate an interest in immigration to this country.
6. The British Empire Settlement Scheme
(a) The Empire Settlement Act which is in force in the United Kingdom provides for joint assistance for suitable persons of the United Kingdom intending to settle in any part of the overseas Dominions under:
(i) a development or land settlement scheme; or
(ii) a scheme for facilitating settlement in or migration to any part of the overseas Dominions,
by assistance with passages, initial allowances, training or otherwise; provided that the United Kingdom's contribution shall not in any case exceed one-half of the expenses of the scheme and provided that the total amount extended by the United Kingdom should not exceed £1,500,000 a year. This Act will be in force until 1957. It is understood that Australia is the Commonwealth which has taken the largest number of immigrants under this Scheme.
(b) With a view to reaching an agreement on subsidizing immigration from the United Kingdom in combination with our Assisted Passage Loan Scheme, an approach could be made to the United Kingdom authorities suggesting that Canada would be willing to take advantage of the Empire Settlement Act under the following conditions:
(i) British immigrants from the United Kingdom would pay the first £10 of their ocean and inland passage, the balance being provided for under the Canadian Government Assisted Passage Loan Scheme.
(ii) At the end of one year, upon evidence that the immigrant is properly established in Canada, the amount advanced under the Assisted Passage Loan Scheme for his ocean and inland transportation would be paid by the United Kingdom and Canadian Governments on a fifty-fifty basis. Payments made by the immigrant on the repayment of his assisted passage loan would be returned to him. This would help the immigrant in his establishment here.
7. The advantage of combining the British Empire Settlement Scheme with our Assisted Passage Loan Scheme and imposing the aforementioned conditions would be to ensure that those immigrants participating in it were sincere in their desire to settle in Canada.
8. Should it be agreed that an approach be made to the British authorities along the lines suggested, then it is deemed appropriate to offer a similar arrangement to the French authorities.
THE UNDERSIGNED, THEREFORE, RECOMMENDS:
(1) THAT assisted passage loans be made available to all immigrants, and to the wives and unmarried minor children of immigrants who are accompanying their family to Canada or have preceded them to this country; the amount to be advanced to be determined in each case according to the needs and circumstances. The period during which such loans are to be repaid, to be fixed administratively on an ad hoc basis.
(2) THAT the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration be authorized to discuss and conclude arrangements with the United Kingdom authorities whereby Canada will take advantage of the Empire Settlement Act on the basis of the immigrant paying £10 towards the cost of ocean and inland passage, the balance to be provided under the Canadian Government's Assisted Passage Loan Scheme, to be reviewed in one year's time and, if the immigrant is properly established in Canada, the amount of the assisted passage loan to be paid by the Government of Canada and the United Kingdom on an equal basis, with any payments that might have been made being refunded to the immigrant.
(3) THAT the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration be authorized to offer the French authorities an arrangement similar to that offered to the United Kingdom authorities.26