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Canadian Immigration Policy During The 1950's

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Robert’s story did not occur in isolation and is, instead, is situated in the specific social, political and economic context of the late 1940s to 1950s. By this time, World War Two (WWII) had subsided, the economy was recovering, and Canada found itself fairly well situated to accept new immigrants (Hawkins, 1988, p.99). Fuelled by the expansion of certain industries (e.g. construction), this period “saw the beginning of a significant economic boom in Canada” (Kelly & Trebilcock, 2010, p.316; Troper, 1993, p.250). Therefore, what had previously been characterized by a relatively restrictive climate for immigration, due to the fear during WWII, was gradually replaced with more “libera[l]” (Kelly & Trebilcock, 2010, p.318) immigration policies…show more content…
Immediately following WWII, the need for labour was relatively indiscriminate; skilled and unskilled young men were recruited to remedy the labour shortage (Kelly & Trebilcock, 2010, p.318; Green & Green, 2004, p.114; Walsh, 2003, p.794). As Green & Green (2014) state, immigration was essential a way of “filling [the] skill gaps” (p.114) that existed in Canadian society at the time. However, as the labour ‘crisis’ waned in the 1950s, there became a greater emphasis on skilled labour in particular (Green & Green, 2004, p.114; Kelly & Trebilcock, 2010, p.318). One manifestation of this economic focus in Canada’s immigration policies was the creation of a “contract labour scheme” (Kelly & Trebilcock, 2010, p.340) in the late 1940s; a program similar to the modern Temporary Foreign Worker Program (Kelly & Trebilcock, 2010, p.340). Immigrants who may have been previously viewed as undesirable (i.e. due to race or lack of financial security) were brought into Canada for temporary work to fulfill a need in a particular area of the labour market (Kelly & Trebilcock, 2010, pp.340-342). The sheer scale of Canada’s reliance on immigrants to bolster the workforce is evidenced by the fact that “from 1950-1995, immigration accounted for two-thirds of the total labour force increase”…show more content…
King articulated this impetus for immigration in his speech where he mentioned “the danger that [lay] in a small population attempting to hold so great a heritage as [Canada]” (King in Walsh, 2003, p.794). The large landmass of Canada in combination with the “low birth rate,” (Kelly & Trebilcock, 2010, p.340) particularly during WWII, required a larger population to ensure its prosperous future (Green & Green, 2004, p.113; Satzewich & Liodakis, 2007, p.42). This was particularly true for less desirable rural Canada, where the government specifically recruited Dutch farmers to occupy this relatively uninhabited area (Kelly & Trebilcock, 2010, p.340). Furthermore, Canadian immigration policies were created to encourage individuals to immigrate “as settlers rather than…temporary residents” (Walsh, 2003, p.795). The focus on growing Canada’s population appeared to be successful; by 1960, Canada’s population had nearly doubled in size from the 1940s to 18.5 million people (Kelly, 2010,
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