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Canada to provide free flights to refugees

Apr 28, 2022 | News, Canada, Featured

Air Canada and Shapiro Foundation donate Aeroplan miles.

Marco Levytsky, National Affairs Editor.

April 20, Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced new measures to provide free flights for displaced Ukrainians to come to Canada.

Although charter flights are planned to be introduced in the future, the main focus for now is a new Ukraine2Canada Travel Fund, which will be launched in partnership with Miles4Migrants, The Shapiro Foundation and Air Canada.

Canadians and Canadian companies can donate Aeroplan points to the Ukraine2Canada Travel Fund through Air Canada or Miles4Migrants. For those who want to donate cash, the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto will be collecting donations on behalf of the Ukraine2Canada Travel Fund. These partners are inviting Canadians to donate, with the goal of bringing at least 10,000 Ukrainians and their families on flights to Canada. In addition to a significant donation of 100 million Aeroplan points by Air Canada, The Shapiro Foundation will match donations by Canadians, with a donation equivalent of up to 50 million Aeroplan points until July 2022.

The points will contribute towards facilitating transportation and can be used on flights operated by Air Canada and its Star Alliance partners including Lufthansa, LOT Polish Airlines, SWISS, United Airlines and other carriers.

“Together with our employees, we are ready and prepared to assist and support the Canadian Government’s plans to bring Ukrainian people to Canada. With our 100 million Aeroplan points donation, we offer our global network and the strength of our Star Alliance partnerships, in facilitating travel to Canada. We are proud to work with other organizations and international programs to contribute towards a goal to enable up to 10,000 people to travel to Canada as quickly as possible,” said Michael Rousseau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada.

Applications for the Ukraine2Canada Travel Fund are expected to be opened in mid-May. However, if you are a Ukrainian interested in a flight through the Ukraine2Canada Travel Fund you can fill out the form that is available on the Miles4Migrants website (https://miles4migrants.org/canada/) and you will be emailed when applications open. Scroll down to the bottom of the web page and click on the Contact button.

Canadians who would like to donate their Aeroplan points or cash can also do so through the Miles4Migrants website. Cash donations are a big help in addition to miles. While frequent flyer miles cover most airfare expenses, cash is needed for each ticket to cover taxes, departure and arrival fees, and fuel surcharges. Cash donations are handled through the Travel & Settlement Fund at the Jewish Foundation of Greater Toronto, which will distribute these donations for the purposes of sponsoring displaced Ukrainians. Tax receipts will be issued for donations above $10.

“Our vision at Miles4Migrants is a world where displaced persons of all backgrounds can find safety and community in new homes. As we have been seeing Ukrainians become displaced, our community of donors has once again responded, donating to support flights for Ukrainian families to reach safety over the past weeks,” said Diane Padilla, Executive Director of Miles4Migrants.

“We are humbled to be able to play a part in assisting Ukrainian families who are being so warmly welcomed by Canadians. We know that access to flights is a critical need and we are proud to partner with Air Canada. We will double Aeroplan member donations towards Ukrainian travel, and donate the equivalent of up to 50 million Aeroplan points to help more people travel to Canada,” said Ed Shapiro, trustee for The Shapiro Foundation.

Quotes

“The outpouring of support from Canadians coast to coast who are stepping up to support Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s war has been remarkable. This new partnership with Miles4Migrants, The Shapiro Foundation and Air Canada is a testament to the Team Canada approach in supporting the world’s most vulnerable, and will help bring thousands of Ukrainians quickly and safely to Canada. We are grateful for their generous offers to help, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to support Ukrainians before and after they arrive in Canada,” said Fraser.

The program will be open to Ukrainian nationals and their accompanying family members who hold valid Canadian travel documents and who have been approved for travel to Canada. Details on how eligible Ukrainians and their families can access the program will be made available in the coming weeks.

Miles4Migrants is a non-governmental organization that uses donated frequent flyer miles from airlines around the world, credit card points and cash to help people impacted by war, persecution or disaster reunite with loved ones and start new beginnings in safe homes.

The Shapiro Foundation, founded by Barbara and Edward Shapiro in 2000, is a U.S. charitable foundation focused on improving the lives of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
The foundation’s primary focus is on children, refugees and immigrants, as well as education, global health and humanitarian aid.

Launched on March 17, 2022, the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET) provides Ukrainians and their immediate family members of any nationality the opportunity to stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to 3 years.

They are also eligible for a free open work permit or study permit, which allows them to take a job with almost any Canadian employer or enrol in an education program in Canada.

Between March 17, when the CUAET was launched, and April 12, IRCC received close to 141,000 applications and approved over 46,000 applications. Key figures are updated on a weekly basis.

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