Concerns raised over potential lack of support for Ukrainians arriving in Canada

As Ivan Lypovyk waited at the airport for Ukrainian loved ones he’s sponsoring on their journey to Canada, the sponsor wanted to clear up misconceptions he keeps hearing about the resettlement.

By Carly Robinson

Over 60 Ukrainians fleeing war were warmly welcomed as they arrived in Edmonton Monday.

When you hear Valentina Gogvoz’s story of hiding in the basement with her two children to avoid shelling in central Ukraine, before fleeing her home country to live with family in Red Deer calling her a ‘refugee’ seems natural. But Ukrainian nationals arriving in Canada are not going through refugee or immigration streams. They are instead arriving on temporary and emergency visas.

“The challenge is, of course, coming under a temporary permit doesn’t provide the same support as someone coming under a permanent pathway,” explained Sharon Yeo, director of immigration and settlement service at Catholic Social Services.

Visas being given to Ukrainian nationals under new emergency programs, along with work permits – are essentially the same as temporary foreign workers.

With provisions, Ukrainians can work in Canada for up to three years, with the possibility of an extension, as well as getting healthcare, but no government financing or assistance in settling.

“I keep hearing Ukrainians get special treatment and honestly, I’m quite upset,” said Ivan Lypovyk, who had a personal experience navigating the system from when he immigrated to Canada.

“Sin number, Alberta healthcare and right now, it’s a pretty stressful process. Just imagine that mom that is fleeing the war zone with the kids for 1 month,” added Lypovyk.

READ MORE: More than 60 Ukrainians fleeing Russian invasion land in Edmonton

While Monday’s plane was sponsored by community groups under this program, unlike government-sponsored refugees who would get a travel loan, Ukrainians need to pay their own way to Canada.

“We do know there are talks at the federal and provincial levels about additional supports for folks fleeing Ukraine, but we don’t have those details yet,” said Yeo.

To help those navigating sponsoring a loved one fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine Catholic Social Services is hosting an info session Wednesday to work through uncertainty.

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