How Canadians Can Help War Displaced Ukrainians in Canada
Canada’s Call to Action
A perfect storm is forming around displaced Ukrainians
Recent shifts in Ukraine, Poland, and Canada have revealed that there is an urgent need for support for displaced Ukrainians.
In Ukraine, an estimated 3.5 million civilians have had their homes destroyed or damaged since the war, forcing over 8 million to cross into neighbouring countries.
Among those European host countries, mounting costs and fatigue are wearing down their ability to maintain their hospitality and generosity. On June 1st , the Polish government and several other EU nations cancelled free transportation for Ukrainian nationals. On July 1st, the Polish government has ceased payments for hosts, reducing the incentive and putting the full burden of hosting onto private citizens in providing temporary accommodations.
While Poland and the EU’s hospitality tapers, non-European options becoming increasingly popular. As of June 22nd, there have been 343,283 Canada Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) applications received, making it twice as popular as the UK’s program, and three times the size of the US’ program cap. Among those applicants, 146,461 have been approved, of whom only 38% (55,488) have landed. Ukrainians are eager to go to Canada, but have not been able to take that step.
Despite enduring many of the same hardships, threats of danger and persecution, and having the same needs refugees, Ukrainians are not being given refugee status. CUAET is an extended travel visa with a 3-year work permit. The institutional supports and funding that comes with refugee status are not on offer, there is no centralized organization for resettling Ukrainians and no database of available hosts. It is up to decentralized, grassroots groups and some social service agencies that are working to fill the gaps — including flights, accommodations, and employment.
Canadians can help by broadening the ways they can support to three key areas: by helping, hosting and hiring Ukrainians trying to get to Canada and onto their feet.
Canada’s Call-to-Action: the HHH Campaign
Our HHH call-to-action encourages Canadians to broaden their thinking of how they can not only help Ukrainian families get to safety, but empower their new life in Canada. Our consortium of national and grassroots organizations are calling on all Canadians to join our HHH campaign to:
- Help Ukrainians get to Canada: The cost of a family’s flight from Poland to Canada can be a prohibitively expensive ‘startup cost’. Your support of funded flights are the ‘seed capital’ the enable Ukrainians to start their journey of a new life. Roughly 2,000 seats on Government charters and programs such as the Ukraine2Canada program have been fulfilled, while other private sponsors and non-governmental organizations have sponsored thousands more. Today, a waitlist at Warsaw Central Station has over 1,000 names of visa-approved, host-matched Ukrainians who continue to wait to start their journey. Helping can also be enacted through supporting landed Ukrainians get oriented and integrated into Canadian society, by volunteering with local organizations that support with language training, social services, mentorship, and cultural exchanges.
- Host Ukrainians in their homes: Once landed, Ukrainians need runway to address their immediate priorities – find work, find schooling for their children, and find their way in Canadian society. Your role as host plays a critical role in providing them with stability, guidance, and friendship in successful resettlement as they get on their own feet, with most seeking only temporary accommodation ranging from a few weeks to 2 months. Canada’s diversity of opportunity, cost of living structures, and universal hospitality means that hosts of all types are eligible. Flight request data suggests that many are headed to major cities: 72% of all Ukrainians seek to go to Toronto, 7% to Montreal, 5% to Calgary and Winnipeg, and 4% to Edmonton and Vancouver. Our interactions with applicants indicate that many decide on Toronto despite having no familial ties or specific employment in the city. If more Canadians from smaller cities, suburban communities, and rural villages offer up new capacity, we can promote greater awareness with Ukrainians about these broader options, and more financially viable living opportunities.
- Hire Ukrainians into their workplaces: Amid Canada’s labour shortage, Ukrainians have a lot to offer Canada. Ukraine has one of the world’s most literate and educated populations, and many of those seeking settlement in Canada (75%) having basic-to-fluent English. Your welcoming of Ukrainians into the workplace will allow them to be self-sufficient, contributing members of your team and our society. Ukrainians heading to Canada are an eager workforce, with 81% indicating they want to pursue 40 or more hours of work per week.