According to the United Nations (UN) there are approximately 82.4 million people currently displaced across the globe. Less than a year after the Afghanistan crisis, a new humanitarian crisis emerged rapidly in Ukraine. Many individuals and families have since left the country, for their safety, and are seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. The UN estimates over 3 million people are now displaced from the Ukraine since Russia’s invasion, adding to those who are displaced from many regions for a variety of reasons around the world.
As countries mobilize to respond to the growing need, the Canadian government opened a new program on March 17, 2022. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) new Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program has been initiated. This program allows Ukrainian nationals, their spouses or common-law partners, dependent children, and dependent grandchildren to apply for visas to enter, stay, work, or study in Canada for two to three years. The program is not intended as a pathway to permanent immigration status in Canada. As of March 25th, there were more than 30,000 applications currently in process.
On April 6, the Ontario government announced a variety of services and supports for Ukrainians arriving to the province in order to help upon arrival. These include families and children having access to jobs, provincial health care, income support and free education. Ontario can expect about 40,000 Ukrainians to arrive under this new emergency travel authorization. As well, it has been reported that some Russian nationals are migrating from Europe, and there has been disturbing reports of segregation, discrimination and racism against Blacks and people of color seeking to flee from the war which has been confirmed by United Nations. However, at this time there have not been new immigration programs specific to other nationals.
Within Canada, there are several large Ukrainian diasporas across several provinces, including Ontario. As temporary residents, these individuals and families have already started arriving and joining their extended families or communities. Ontario is likely to play a pivotal role in the arrival process, and federal-provincial-regional coordination will be incredibly valuable. For the first time, Ontario is responding to multiple mass migrations occurring at the same time, which will require cross-sector coordination.
There continue to be several layered issues of equity surrounding this crisis and concerns about differential and preferential access to migration streams and services. CWICE will continue to raise equity as a focal point in our collaborative work with government and community partners, to ensure we are welcoming and providing services that meet the needs of all people arriving in Ontario.
Within child welfare, we must be well-prepared to act quickly and equitably based on individual needs. While those arriving from Ukraine are part of a temporary program, they may experience similar needs as those resettling to Canada permanently: developing quarantine plans, locating housing, registering children for school, securing employment and building networks. Children and families arriving in Canada will have had different experiences before, during and after their migration, and may be experiencing trauma.
CWICE continues to be available to support child welfare organizations in the following ways:
CWICE has extensive knowledge in coordinating provincial responses and developing partnerships with key organizations in the resettlement process in Ontario. In recent years, we have coordinated provincial responses to deal with large-scale Syrian and Afghanistan resettlement. We are in the process of identifying Ukrainian-speaking staff and service providers. Our approach emphasizes seamless service for families settling and encourages consistent and equitable practices across regions when families are receiving child welfare services.
CWICE is part of Ontario’s plan for child welfare redesign and supports children and youth under 18 who are receiving services from child welfare organizations in Ontario at any stage of service. Please contact us to schedule an outreach presentation for your organization, or to consult about any questions you have while working with a Ukrainian family.