(Calgary) Canada may need to consider updating future supports for Ukrainians seeking refuge after the war, federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said Monday.
“I’ve heard from provinces and municipalities across the country that have seen large numbers of people coming in saying they’re having a hard time keeping up,” Fraser said at a press conference in Calgary.
“This is something we’re going to need to better understand before developing the next steps in supporting Ukrainians.
“We want to make sure that we don’t just bring people here, but set them up to be successful when they arrive. »
Ottawa announced in March a three-month extension, until July 15, for evacuated Ukrainians to apply for three-year emergency visas. They will then have until the end of March 2024 to travel to Canada, where the federal government would offer them a one-time income support payment and two weeks of hotel accommodation.
Just over 610,000 people had been approved to come to Canada under the program as of March 16, and about 190,000 have arrived.
The arrival of large numbers of Ukrainians is creating a crisis for immigrant settlement groups who say they are having difficulty finding housing for refugees.
Last week, the Calgary Center for Newcomers announced it was looking for 100 families to sponsor and house people arriving in the city while they try to find jobs, benefits and long-term housing.
The center said Ukrainians arriving in other Canadian cities head to Calgary because rents are lower than in major cities like Toronto and Vancouver.
Minister Fraser acknowledged that groups providing aid are not just struggling with costs, but also with the capacity of the system. He said that in a tough labor market, even finding staff at language training institutions or who offer employment assistance is “a real and serious challenge.”
“This is a unique program in that we developed it in response to events that were happening in real time,” Fraser said.
“As a government, we continue to look at the different options to determine what might happen, trying to understand how many people, as we get closer to the extended application deadline of July 15, will end up making it to the Canada over the next year. »
Minister Fraser said Ottawa will work with municipalities and provinces to identify the right path forward and the role of each level of government.
“Benefits have been extended until the end of March next year for people who make it that far,” he said.
“Additional measures will need to be continuously discussed so that we can identify what the federal government should be responsible for in relation to provinces and communities that attract large numbers of people. »
Fraser said while cities like Calgary and Toronto are struggling to cope with large numbers of refugees, Newfoundland and Labrador is trying to attract more people to fill its labor shortage. ‘work.
“Good solutions in different parts of the country may require a more tailored response, which is why we need to continue to have these conversations at a more local level. »