Welcoming the Sick and Afflicted: Canada’s Tubercular Admissions Program, 1959-1960

  • Jan Raska The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21


In the 1950s, the United Nations lobbied Canadian officials to help close Europe’s remaining displaced persons camps and resettle “hard core” refugees—individuals who were unsponsored, sick, infirm, or disabled. As part of Canada’s contribution to World Refugee Year (1959-1960), the federal government appeased public demands for a humanitarian response by implementing a special program that brought 325 tubercular refugees and 501 family members to Canada. Despite federal concerns about the financial cost and potential burden on the health care system, the resettlement scheme represented a notable departure from existing immigration policy for unsponsored immigrants with tuberculosis and became an early antecedent to broader reforms in the 1960s.

Themed section: The Historical Borderlands of Health and Mobility