Volume #25 - 481.|
EUROPE DE L'EST ET L'UNION SOVIÉTIQUE
LES RÉFUGIÉS HONGROIS
Note du ministre par intérim de la Citoyenneté et de l'Immigration|
pour le Cabinet
Cabinet Document 103-57|
le 10 juillet 1957|
Shortly after the Hungarian uprising last October and with the arrival in Austria of large numbers of refugees, the Canadian Government announced that it was anxious to receive and to assist in coming here, from Austria, as many refugees as wished to come. There were no limits placed on the ultimate size of this movement; however, on November 29, 1956, the Austrian Chargé d'Affaires in Ottawa was informed that, while an absolute figure had not been set, the guiding Canadian principle is to take as many as wished to come and can be settled in the Canadian community.1 On December 5, 1956, the Department of External Affairs was advised that from what could then be foreseen, it would be Departmental policy, for the next two or three months, to continue accepting refugees to the limit of the transportation facilities available and that Canada would continue to admit refugees until either the source is exhausted or until the Federal, Provincial and private facilities for their reception became saturated. In a statement in the House of Commons on November 26th,2 the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration stated that the Government was in favour of bringing to Canada all those refugees who would be better off and happier here. In brief, while aimed at relieving Austria with its grave problem of providing reception and care for very large numbers of refugees and at the same time acquiring substantial numbers of new settlers who could be absorbed with advantage into the Canadian community, Canada's policy nonetheless reflected the knowledge that the absorptive capacity for refugees, as with other immigrants, is limited to the capacity of the facilities which existed or could be made for their reception, care and placement here. In late November, the Canadian Government announced that free passages to Canada would be provided for Hungarian refugees accepted for movement to this country. The usual medical examination for immigrants overseas was waived (in the case of refugees in Austria) and such examination took place on arrival of the refugees in Canada. Further Hungarian refugees were admitted without the usual security screening.
In December 1956, the Government made arrangements with the Netherlands to accommodate until spring, when they would be moved to Canada, 2,000 refugees from Austria and for Canada to accept for movement from the United Kingdom and France in the spring, up to 5,000 and 3,000 respectively, on the understanding that those countries would, by that time, have received additional equivalent numbers from Austria. This had the immediate effect of relieving the pressure on Austria by moving refugees from that country and, at the same time, prevented a prohibitive strain being placed on the reception facilities in Canada which were fully occupied with the continuing flow direct from Austria to Canada. The movement of refugees from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom has now been completed and the one from France will be completed by July 31, 1957. In these cases also, refugees were accepted without regard to their medical condition although medically examined abroad.
In March 1957, it was decided to accept 1,500 Hungarian refugees who had found temporary sanctuary in Italy and 1,000 refugees from Yugoslavia. Refugees in these movements were to meet Canadian Immigration requirements apart from security and the Italian Government is to pay the cost of transportation to Canada for those from that country.3
In the case of Hungarian refugees who moved from Austria to second countries of haven in Europe but who indicated a desire to come to Canada, while initially their movement was authorized on the same basis as refugees from Austria, in December, it was necessary to issue instructions that the movement of such refugees be deferred to the spring. This restrictive order was relaxed in January to allow those to come to Canada who could be placed under the winter immigration programme as well as sponsored cases. During April 1957, because of the unusually large flow of immigrants from normal sources and the difficulties encountered in Canada in placing refugees, it was decided to restrict Hungarian refugee immigration as well as other immigration. On May 1st, firm instructions were issued to restrict the issue of visas to:
(1) Refugees being selected in Austria and by special teams in Yugoslavia and Italy.
(2) Hungarian refugees of the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and France quotas or who were selected to meet transportation commitments on the Ascania which had been chartered by ICEM for the transport of refugees to Canada.
(3) Hungarian refugees sent call-up notices for visa purposes prior to receipt of the May 1st instructions.
(4) Close relatives or Hungarian refugees sponsored by residents of Canada together with cases of exceptional merit.
(Free transportation was to be available for sponsored refugees willing to use transportation facilities as arranged by the Canadian Government through the Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration. Hungarian refugees outside of Austria in the exceptionally meritorious category were to be eligible for Assisted Passage).
On May 10, 1957, overseas posts were advised by cable to delay the movement of all unsponsored Hungarian refugees until August at least, whether or not they had been issued visas.
Hungarian refugee arrivals in Canada to July 5, 1957, have been as follows:
In addition to taking a large number of Hungarian refugees from Austria, Canada, unlike the United States, Australia or other immigration countries, has accepted substantial numbers of refugees temporarily resettled in other countries of Europe. Attached as Appendix A? is a table analyzing these movements. It will be seen from this table that of the Hungarian refugees proceeding to other European countries, 15,735 have applied to come to Canada and Canadian visas have been issued to 11,674 including those Canada agreed to take from the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Yugoslavia in countries other than Austria. The difference is made up partly of those who could not come forward in view of our recent restrictions and to a lesser degree it consists of persons who applied to come to Canada and subsequently decided not to migrate or to migrate to other countries. It must be recognized however, that the total number of applications does not represent the total number of refugees in these countries who might want to come to Canada. There is no doubt that because of the restrictive instructions many applications of persons who could not be dealt with were simply not accepted.
Pressure on Canada to admit Hungarian refugees from Western Europe is coming primarily from Ireland and Denmark. In Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium for example while Hungarian refugees have applied to come to Canada the authorities in those countries indicated they are interested in retaining their refugees in view of labour shortages. Canada by agreement has taken specified numbers of refugees from France, the United Kingdom, Italy and Yugoslavia although there may be others, particularly in Yugoslavia and Italy, who would be interested in coming to this country. While Switzerland has a large number of refugees who wish to come to Canada, no particular pressure has been exerted on Canada to rescind its restrictive measures.
In so far as Austria is concerned, at the end of June the situation was as follows:
From April 27th to June 14th of this year, refugee arrivals in Austria averaged 19 per week.
In summary, as of June 28, 1957, 47,919 applications for admission to Canada had been received from Hungarian refugees and 35,413 visas had been issued; of the latter figure, 2,633 refugees were awaiting transportation and 31,737 had arrived in Canada as of June 28th. The difference between the number of visas issued and the number of refugees arrived or awaiting transportation is 1,043, probably representing those persons who received visas and subsequently decided not to migrate. The difference between the number of applications received and the number of visas issued is 12,556, which, taking into account the number of applications which might have been refused and are not reflected in our statistics, represents a visa potential of approximately 10,000, three-quarters of which is made up of refugees from Austria.
As reported in my Memorandum to Cabinet of July 3rd,? dealing with the Immigration Winter Programme for 1957/58, there is an unusually heavy flow of immigrants from normal sources to this country this year. The total arrivals for the first six months of 1957 is estimated at 175,000, including roughly 26,000 Hungarian refugees. Coupled with this extremely heavy flow is the fact that employment conditions during the coming fall and winter are expected to be less favourable than was the case last winter. In addition, experience has shown that the Hungarian refugees, because of language difficulties and the fact that they are not pre-conditioned for migration and have difficulty in becoming adjusted, present particular placement problems. Attached as Appendix B? is a table showing, as of June 28th, the Hungarian refugees receiving accommodation and emergency subsistence from the Department in relation to the total migrants receiving such help as of that date. Of a total of 7,205 immigrants receiving emergency assistance in the form of food and shelter, 6,208 were Hungarian refugees and of a total of 1,422 immigrant workers who were not placed in employment and were receiving such assistance in excess of two weeks, 1,353 were Hungarian refugees. There is no doubt that a large number of the Hungarian refugees now in Canada and yet to arrive under existing commitments will require assistance in respect of accommodation, etc. during the forthcoming fall and winter when employment conditions are more difficult. At the same time substantial numbers of migrants of the regular flow, from volume alone, will require assistance. While a survey is being made to provide extra accommodation for immigrants during the fall and winter, a report from the Department of National Defence indicates it will not be feasible to shelter more than 10,000 in addition to hostels already administered by the Canadian Government which have a capacity of 5,546. If continued freely, the Hungarian refugees will no doubt result in a movement of an additional 12-15,000 refugees in 1957 and this will occupy the greatest portion of such accommodation as may be available, leaving very little for other immigrants who may need such assistance.
It is considered that the extreme urgency of the Hungarian refugee situation has passed. In the future there should be no limit as to the numbers of such refugees admitted to Canada if dealt with under normal immigration programs according to the usual immigration requirements. At the moment, however, it seems evident that to continue the movement unchecked will result in serious problems in respect of the accommodation and maintenance not only of themselves but of other migrants and in addition will prejudice future prospects for successful programs from normal sources through the creation here of unsatisfactory conditions.
It is, therefore, recommended:
that for the balance of 1957
Canada, Chambres des Communes, Débats, 1956 à 1957, Quatrième session spéciale,
pp. 37 à 41.
3Note marginale:/Marginal note:
4Approuvé par le Cabinet le 11 juillet 1957./Approved by Cabinet on July 11, 1957.