Empire Settlement Act (Canada) (1922)


With the dramatic decline of immigrant admissions and rise in alien deportations during World War I (1914–18; see World War I and immigration), the Canadian government tried several means of attracting agriculturalists and domestics. Its first choice of source country was Great Britain. In 1922, the Canadian and British governments reached an agreement leading to passage of the Empire Settlement Act in the British Parliament, a measure encouraging immigration to Canada of British agriculturalists, farm laborers, domestic laborers, and children under 17. Inducements varied according to specific schemes devised under the measure but included the sale of land on credit, agricultural training, and most prominently, establishment of a special transportation rate for the targeted groups. Numerous amendments and extensions to the act during the 1920s eventually covered a number of specialized programs, including the unsuccessful plan to resettle 10,000 unemployed British miners, giving them jobs in the Canadian west harvesting wheat. Threequarters of the 8,000 who came to Canada eventually returned. More successful was the program providing transportation assistance and guaranteeing standard wages and transition support for more than 22,000 domestic workers. Child immigrants remained in high demand in Canada, though increased scrutiny by government and humanitarian groups led to tighter restrictions in 1924. Eventually about 130,000 British immigrants were given assistance under the measure during the 1920s and 1930s, though Canadian support faded from the late 1920s on.

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