Since 1869, Canada has had an Immigration Act meant to encourage certain kinds of settlers to the country, while keeping out those who are criminals and security threats or those that have particularly contagious, fatal diseases. The criteria affect those allowed in has changed over time depending on economic and political factors. The federal government also placed limits on certain ethnic and religious groups early in the twentieth century.
Measures were introduced in the Immigration Act, 1906 to prevent other groups of people the government feared would place a strain on the federal government. On top of pre-existing rules meant to keep the insane or criminally minded out of Canada, this act was expanded to include former inmates of mental hospitals or jails, or anyone who'd been charged but not convicted of serious crimes.
Immigration laws were also strengthened in 1906 and 1910 to allow the government to deport unwanted immigrants, like those suffering from severe illness. A probation period of three years was additionally set in place for every immigrant coming to Canada in 1910. If immigrants committed crimes in Canada within that three-year period, they risked being sent back to their home countries.
Around the same time, Canada experienced a mild economic recession. A measure was introduced in which all immigrants to Canada would have to possess at least $25 upon landing as a way of proving to government officials that they weren't destitute.
After the war, the federal government enacted new measures to keep out immigrants who were deemed unsuitable for life in Canada. The Immigration Act, 1919, included a new rule, Section 38, which allowed the government to limit or prohibit the entry of undesirable races and nationalities.
Section 38 formed the basis of an order-in-council paper later in 1919 that prohibited the entry of Austrians, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Turks, and others who fought against Canada in World War I.
This section was also used to prohibit the entry of Doukhobers, Hutteritesand Mennonites because of their particular religious customs and habits. (The government repealed both of these prohibitions, however, in 1922-23.)
Section 41 of the act gave the government increased powers to deport activists who were against government policy or big business interests. This was particularly important to the government with the rise ofcommunism and socialism in Canada following the 1917 Russian Revolution and Winnipeg General Strike in 1919.
In 1946, the federal government created an act called the Canada Citizenship Act, which came into effect on January 1, 1947. This law officially created Canadian citizenship. Prior to this, all Canadians were considered to be British subjects. Under this new legislation, though, Canadian citizenship was extended to most residents who hadn't been born in the country but were now living full-time in Canada.
After this act was created, however, Canada still gave preferential treatment to white, European or American residents who wanted to immigrate to the country. This was evident in the Immigration Act, 1952.
This 1952 act allowed the following groups of "preferred classes" into the country:
Asians who wanted to reunite with their immediate relatives in Canada.
However, the act discriminated against:
Asians without close relatives already living in Canada. homosexuals and prostitutes. the mentally handicapped. those suffering from epilepsy. other ethnic groups of the government's choosing. The act allowed for the passage of orders-in-council that placed quotas on those from India, Pakistan and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
Thanks to a growing social awareness in Canada throughout the late '50s, the requirements that discriminated on the basis of race or country of origin were dropped by 1962.
In 1967, Canada introduced a Points System that gave preference to immigrants who, among other things: