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Opposition calls for action to help Ukrainians come to Canada

Feb 23, 2022 | Featured

NP-UN National Affairs Desk.

Both Conservatives and New Democrats are calling upon the Government of Canada to grant visa-free travel for Ukrainians facing a possible escalation of the war.

Jasraj Singh Hallan, Conservative Shadow Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and Laila Goodridge, Conservative Shadow Minister for Families, Children and Social Development have called upon the Government of Canada to offer visa-free travel to Ukrainians and issued the following statement on the rising tensions in Ukraine:

“Canada and Ukraine share a close bond with strong people-to-people ties. More than a million Canadians today can trace their ancestry back to Ukraine. As the situation facing Ukraine from Russian aggression continues to become more dire, Canada must take action to support those Ukrainians who want to come to our country,” stated Jasraj Singh Hallan, Conservative Shadow Minister for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and Laila Goodridge, Conservative Shadow Minister for Families, Children and Social Development in a February 17 media release.

“We fear that there is no plan to deal with a potential crisis in Ukraine that could leave our allies stranded in a country occupied by a hostile force.

“That is why, as tensions rise and the threat of a Russian invasion looms, priority must be given to temporarily implementing visa-free travel from Ukraine to Canada and to expedite other current immigration applications from Ukraine nationals. IRCC must also offer a streamlined process for Ukrainian visa holders to extend their stay if they are already in Canada,” they added.

Canada has granted citizens of more than 60 countries and jurisdictions visa-free access to this country, and while Canadians can visit Ukraine for up to 90 days without a visa, Ukrainians require one to travel to Canada.

NDP foreign affairs critic Heather McPherson echoed this call.

“There is a looming humanitarian disaster in Ukraine and thousands are urgently seeking refuge in Canada,” Ms. McPherson said. “I have spoken with many Ukrainian Canadians who want this prioritized. New Democrats continue to call on the Liberal government to do everything possible to help people fleeing the threat of violence in Ukraine,” she told The Globe and Mail.

Earlier this month, Conservatives sent a letter calling on Sean Fraser, Minister of IRCC, to take the necessary steps to make it easier for Ukrainian people to come to Canada. They have yet to receive a response. New Pathway – Ukrainian News sent an email to Fraser’s office asking for a comment on the Conservative proposal. We too have yet to receive a response. The Globe and Mail also asked the minister’s office why the government has not granted visa-free access for Ukraine. It did not offer an explanation. However, spokesperson Aidan Strickland said Canada has two visa application centres, one in Kyiv and one in Lviv, which are “operating at full capacity” to process requests for study and work permits, applications for temporary residence, permanent residence and proof of citizenship documents.

“Now is not the time for political statements or empty promises. The Trudeau government must act now, and they must not repeat the same mistake they made in Afghanistan,” stated the Conservatives.

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