Skip to main content

Canadian Wrongs: Redressing the Chinese Head Tax

Redressing the Chinese Head Tax

In 2006, the government of Canada under Prime Minister Harper issued a formal apology to the Chinese-Canadian community and the descendents of those who were subjected to the Chinese Head Tax.  The Prime Minister acknowledged that the tax was discriminatory.  The federal government also promised to pay $12.5 million to create a new foundation designed to educate Canadians about the wrongs suffered by Chinese Canadians and other ethno-cultural groups.

The government of British Columbia issued its own apology in 2015.

Lingering Concerns

The compensation for the Chinese head tax attracted criticism.  Some organizations, such as the Ontario Coalition of Head Tax Payers and Families, felt that they had been shut out of the process of negotiations.  (The primary negotiations were undertaken by the government of Canada and the Congress of Chinese Canadians, a group that had been appointed to negotiate the compensation.) Other organizations, like the Canadian Taxpayers Association, opposed paying compensation to any group, fearing that it would trigger an onslaught of groups claiming wrongs and seeking compensation.

See: "Chinese descendants to receive compensation for head tax", CBC News Online (Nov. 17, 2005), online:

Other issues arose five years after the federal government's apology, when it was learned that half-a-million dollars of the total $12.5 million earmarked for the Community Historical Recognition Program was never spent and set to be clawed back by the government.

See: Joe Friesen, "Chinese head-tax redress funds clawed back", The Globe and Mail (Feb. 27, 2013, online: