By Camille Bains, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Settlement agencies across the country have joined forces to support Ukrainians arriving through a federal emergency program at three airports, Canada’s immigration minister said Tuesday.
Sean Fraser said 41,000 people had been approved under an emergency travel initiative launched last month to help people resettle after many fled to Europe to escape war in the Russia versus Ukraine.
They have been arriving at Toronto and Edmonton international airports since April 1 and Vancouver since April 8.
Fraser said most applicants are now in Warsaw or Berlin and many may temporarily settle in Canada while they access services such as language training, childcare and assistance with look for a job.
Many of the newcomers could end up in Western Canada because of their ties to that part of the country, he said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, at the end of the day, if we saw a significant number of people ending up in smaller communities in the prairie provinces.
Chris Friesen of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance said a central online portal involving 500 national agencies will be available later this month so Canadians can offer support such as housing, employment and donations. Newly arrived Ukrainians can also access the site to ask for help.
“Displaced Ukrainians arriving under the Canada-Ukraine emergency travel authorization program pose unique challenges for the post-arrival phase,” Friesen said, adding that those arriving from Ukraine are a hybrid between temporary visitors and those in need of refugee-type support.
“While immigration is a shared federal-provincial jurisdiction, most settlement supports for newcomers to Canada focus on permanent, not temporary, residents. Additionally, provincial and territorial laws and regulations are not necessarily in place to support temporary residents and visitors.
Friesen said that could include income support and access to a health card with no three-month waiting period.
To complicate matters further, the urgent federal measures put in place to expedite the arrival of Ukrainians did not include any targets or limits and deadlines for their arrival in Canada or even a destination plan, such as this is the case for resettled refugees, he said.
“That’s why the arrival of Ukrainians with temporary resident status is truly a unique humanitarian operation in Canadian history.
B.C. Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen said the province is working with the United Way to provide Ukrainian refugees with a 24-hour helpline and provide supports like kindergarten to kindergarten education. Grade 12, national tuition for post-secondary students as well as mental health services. .
Residents offer their vacation rentals and suites through settlement agencies, but housing is a big issue in British Columbia, Cullen said.
“Our first, second and third challenge in British Columbia is housing. Our ability to have housing across the spectrum, from market housing to very affordable housing, is proving (to be) a challenge. We build a lot, but the needs are greater.
The federal government has already announced that newcomers will receive six weeks of income support and two weeks of hotel accommodation for those who have no place to stay.
Fraser said unlike Ukrainians, those who fled Afghanistan for another country, such as Pakistan, face difficult challenges getting to Canada, as they may need travel documents like a valid Afghan passport. , which they can only get if they cooperate with the Taliban.
“There are thousands of people who have been approved to come to Canada and who are still in Afghanistan today. If it was a matter of political will, there would have been 40,000 Afghan refugees here months ago.
Canada’s goal is to have that number of Afghans arrive next year as part of its “moral obligation” to the country, Fraser said.
About 80,000 refugees have already been resettled in Canada, he said.