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Ottawa to compensate Chinese-Canadians
(Canadian Press)
Updated: 2005-11-20 08:57

TORONTO A group of Chinese-Canadians said Thursday it has negotiated a deal with the federal government for the head tax Chinese immigrants were once forced to pay, but the move is being condemned by other groups who want Ottawa to do more.

The agreement with the National Congress of Chinese Canadians is to be signed Nov. 23. CBC News reported the federal government has agreed to acknowledge the head tax discriminated against Chinese immigrants and pay $12.5 million into a new foundation.

But several other Chinese-Canadian groups representing head tax payers and their families said the deal is inadequate. The Chinese Canadian National Council is among the groups asking the federal government to issue a formal apology as well as provide compensation to head tax payers and their families.

"This issue has been absolutely churning in the Chinese language media so we would be surprised that the prime minister and his government have missed the vocal opposition among head tax payers and families and throughout the community," said Victor Wong, the council's executive director.

"We call on Prime Minister Martin not to repeat the mistakes of the past and enter into good-faith negotiations with the head tax payers and families."

The Canadian government collected $23 million from more than 80,000 Chinese immigrants between 1885 and 1923, with the tax ranging from $50 to $500 per person. At the time, $500 was equivalent to two years of wages for a Chinese labourer.

Chinese immigrants were then turned away in 1923, with families separated for decades until the Exclusion Act was repealed in 1947. Several dozen people who paid the tax are believed to still be alive.



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