Harper apologizes for Chinese Head Tax again
$100 in 1900 ($2,800 in today’s money), and then to a staggering $500 ($13,500 today) in 1903.
This tax remained in place until 1923, when the government amended the Chinese Immigration Act and effectively banned most Chinese immigrants to Canada until 1947. Newfoundland also imposed a Head Tax on Chinese immigrants from 1906 to 1949, the year Newfoundland joined the confederation.
The Head Tax was legal at the time, as acknowledged by Canadian courts. However, the government of Canada came to accept that the Head Tax was racially-based and inconsistent with the values of modern day Canadians.
“As such, we took responsibility and offered symbolic exgratia payments to living Head Tax payers and living spouses of deceased payers. We also established the Community Historical Recognition Program to help finance community projects that explored the impact of past wartime measures and immigration restrictions on cultural and religious communities,” Harper said.
On June 22, 2006, on behalf of the Canadian government, the Prime Minister first apologized in the House of Commons for the implementation of the Head Tax.
The Government also announced its intention to offer symbolic individual payments of $20,000 to living Chinese Head Tax payers and living spouses of deceased payers.
“These actions helped to heal old wounds and demonstrated that our government is committed to acknowledging historical wrongs and to moving forward, together, to build a stronger Canada,” Harper explained.