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Alberta UCP, NDP address Ukrainian community issues

May 17, 2023 | Featured, Politics, Ukrainian World Congress, News, Life, Community, Immigration, Canada

NP-UN Western Bureau / UCC-APC

New Pathway – Ukrainian News, in conjunction with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, prepared a questionnaire related to key issues of importance to our community and UCC-APC sent it out to the two major parties contesting the May 29 provincial election. Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro responded on behalf of the United Conservative Party, while the Alberta New Democratic Party’s response came from their policy committee.

Multiculturalism

Do you believe that the Premier’s Council on Multiculturalism should reflect the full ethnocultural diversity of Alberta, including European cultural groups? If elected, would you expand the council to include groups that have been omitted?

Tyler Shandro UCP: Further to my previous conversation with you, I have had it confirmed from Premier’s Office that your feedback on this oversight was appreciated and after the election there will be an additional appointment to this Council from the Ukrainian community.

Alberta NDP: We agree it is important to ensure the Premier’s Council on Multiculturalism is expanded to reflect the diversity of Alberta, and that it is important Ukrainians have a voice – particularly given the number of displaced people arriving here in recent months.

War in Ukraine

Do you support the full sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, meaning no peace agreement that would involve territorial concessions to Russia by Ukraine?

Tyler Shandro UCP: Our province and our country must support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity unconditionally and no one from the West should ask Ukraine to concede any territory in a peace agreement. That includes Crimea. If there are any concessions, and I hope there are none, it should be Ukraine’s decision alone without pressure from any allies in Europe or the West.

Alberta NDP: While foreign relations are the jurisdiction of the federal government, we’re proud that Alberta has provided a safe harbour to many people fleeing conflict, especially Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine. We must continue to support the Ukrainian people against this aggression. The Alberta NDP has been a strong advocate for Ukrainians who have had to resettle in Alberta due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On March 7, we raised the issue during question period of asset verification blocking Ukrainian refugees in Alberta from receiving the support they needed. It was through the advocacy of Ukrainian Albertans and people who support refugees bringing this to our attention, and our unique position at the time as opposition MLAs that we were able to push the UCP to commit to reversing this harmful policy. This is just one example of our efforts to support Ukrainians in Alberta and our deep pride that we are able to do this work.

Displaced Ukrainians

Currently there is no support for disabled and senior Displaced Ukrainians. What would you do to rectify this situation?

Tyler Shandro UCP: Further support, including support for those suffering from a disability, seniors and summer camps for children, that might all be questions we’d need to ask the Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services. Is that all right if we got back to you on that one after the election?
Alberta NDP: While the CUEAT program is run by the federal government, we agree it is important to provide support for seniors and people with disabilities. The Alberta NDP will:

● Increase funding for Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) by 50%, which funds many nonprofit supports for these communities.

● Significantly increase support and eligibility for all settlement services, including language training, education, credentialing, and employment, support resource hubs and community navigators to help match people to necessary services.

Would your government be willing to dedicate funding and/or resources to expanding existing Ukrainian-Canadian community summer camp programs (organized by youth organizations, churches, dance groups, arts groups, sports organizations, and other non-profit groups) to enable war-traumatized children newly-arrived in Alberta to experience a week or two of the joys of childhood that have been so brutally, senselessly, and mercilessly denied them by relentless and indiscriminate Russian shelling and bombing of villages, towns and cities all across Ukraine for over a year?

Tyler Shandro UCP: See above response

Alberta NDP: We’ve also recently announced plans for Hometown Alberta, which is new funding to support museums, arts and cultural centres, and sports and recreation. We would increase community grant funding by 50 per cent to $75 million annually. Through this program, funding will be available for any infrastructure needs of existing Ukrainian Canadian community summer camp programs (organised by youth organizations, churches, dance groups, arts groups, sports organizations, and other non-profit groups).

The Alberta NDP will also establish a refundable tax credit of up to $500 per child each year that can be applied to the cost of any recreational or extracurricular programming, including sports, music lessons or camp fees.

Education

For most of the past 400 years, virtually everything the world has come to know of Ukraine has been provided through the lens of official Russian historiography, and state propaganda. One of the few positive developments since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been the emergence of a growing global interest in Ukrainian history from the perspective of Ukrainians. Would your government support an increase in high school and university level funding for Ukrainian studies to begin the process — at least in Alberta – of correcting centuries of misinformation about Ukraine and her people?

Tyler Shandro UCP: Additional resources that have been committed to the CIUS to combat the centuries of misinformation regarding the history of Ukraine.

Alberta NDP: When it comes to education, the Alberta NDP has committed to:

● Hiring an additional 4,000 teachers and 3,000 support staff

● Building and modernizing dozens of schools across the province

● Developing an inclusive K-12 curriculum that reflects Alberta’s diverse population. You will have the opportunity to provide input as part of a curriculum review and renewal that will begin during our first 100 days in office. We want to hear from affected communities on how best to support student learning about Ukraine and its history.

A significant percentage of the displaced persons arriving in Alberta from war-torn Ukraine comprise single parent families headed up by young mothers whose husbands have either perished in the war, or who stayed on to continue to defend their homeland against Russian imperialism. Would your government support expanding the Ukrainian Bilingual School Program in Edmonton and the roll-out of the program to Calgary, to assist with the education and integration of the large number of incoming children whose parent(s) will be seeking work but who wish their children to maintain their native language while becoming fluent in English as quickly as possible?

Tyler Shandro UCP: Expanding the Ukrainian Bilingual School Program and extending it to Calgary would need a conversation with the Minister of Education. I’m not sure we can commit to that during the campaign. A big part of the reason will be because it will depend on the school divisions and we won’t know at this time what’s possible. But we can look into it after the election.

Alberta NDP: We would be pleased to work with school boards and local communities to determine if the Ukrainian Bilingual School Program in Edmonton could be expanded to meet the needs of families in other communities.

This year is the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor. Would your government assist the Ukrainian community to commemorate this monumental historical tragedy by making provision for additional educational resources to be dedicated to this task and for special educational materials/lectures/programs to be prepared for junior and/or senior high school students?

Tyler Shandro UCP: My understanding is that (Education) Minister (Adriana) Lagrange was already looking to do this. I think this is in the works already.
Alberta NDP: We would also engage with you on how best to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor this year.

War Crimes

Given the magnitude and complexity of the task, if asked, would your government commit resources to aid Ukraine in investigating, tracking down and prosecuting Russian war criminals (as part of the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague)? Closely related, would your government be prepared to sponsor — in collaboration with the federal government and others — an international symposium on how best to ensure, that Russian war criminals and the tens of thousands of war crimes they have committed in Ukraine, do not go unpunished.

Tyler Shandro UCP: Yes, although of course we could only investigate and track down war criminals who might be in Alberta.
Alberta NDP: Did not answer this question.

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