Alberta seeks more control over provincial immigration system

“We have the opportunities that Ukrainians are looking for and we know that many are still eager to come here, whether short-term or long-term,” Smith said.

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Premier Danielle Smith is pushing for greater control over the provincial immigration system, advocating for Ukrainian evacuees who she believes will improve the province’s economy and alleviate skilled labor shortages.

Last week, the federal government informed the province that it would only receive 9,750 spots by 2024, down from the 10,140 the federal government had originally allocated.

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“I wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today asking for an increase in our nomination slots for this year from less than 10,000 to 20,000 effective immediately. Additionally, we are requesting 10,000 new spaces specifically for Ukrainian evacuees,” Smith said.

Smith said the province was told it would not see an increase in the number of provincial nomination slots through the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program. “This will make it difficult for our government to give Ukrainian evacuees the certainty that they need to build a future here by helping them become permanent residents.

“We don’t believe this is fair and we are concerned that it is yet another example of the federal government’s interference in our provincial jurisdiction.”

The program nominates people for permanent residency in Alberta. Nominees must have skills to fill job shortages or be planning to buy or start a business in Alberta, and must be able to support their families. The program is run by the governments of Alberta and Canada.

“Although we are only 12 percent of the population, we receive 23 percent of Ukrainian evacuees seeking refuge in our country; That is why we want to have a special program that allows us to settle them. ”said Smith.

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Smith said he also asked Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Minister Marc Miller for a meeting to discuss concerns around the immigration strategy.

“We have the opportunities that Ukrainians are looking for and we know that many are still eager to come here, whether short or long term,” he said. “And we are working to ensure they can access supports and services to help them adjust to life as needed.”

‘Growing economy demands’ welcoming more newcomers: Smith

When Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago, Alberta bounced back immediately, Smith said.

“We have welcomed tens of thousands of Ukrainian evacuees seeking refuge in our province, under the Canada-Ukraine Emergency Travel Authorization program.”

CUAET is a temporary travel visa introduced by the Canadian government that allows Ukrainian citizens and their family members to travel, study and work in Canada for up to three years, or until it is safe for them to return home. Applications closed last summer.

“As of my most recent update, more than 57,000 Ukrainian evacuees have arrived in Alberta alone, and that number continues to grow every day,” Smith said. “We are proud to be a beacon of hope and security for those fleeing the war in Ukraine. And we are proud to welcome newcomers from around the world – our growing economy demands it.”

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Smith said Alberta businesses are “struggling” to fill vacant positions in various industries and that more skilled workers are needed to boost the economy.

“We know that Alberta is also an attractive destination and we want to offer long-term stability and certainty to all newcomers who have chosen to settle in Alberta. However, Ottawa prevents us from being able to do so.”

The Ukrainian community is “part of the government’s DNA”

Danylo Moussienko, president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Calgary, said he welcomes the idea of ​​Alberta accommodating more of the country’s refugees.

“I think yesterday there were already several bombings in cities in central and western Ukraine,” Moussienko said. “Day by day, no one is safe in Ukraine.”

Moussienko said Ukrainian forces, especially air defense units, are doing the best they can, but they are still always a risk. “No matter where you are in Ukraine, you can be targeted by Russian missiles and drones, etc.

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“Community is part of the government’s DNA; we were essentially part of the establishment of Alberta; the first immigrants of Ukrainian descent were in Alberta and that was over 130 years ago.”

Under the War Crimes Program, the RCMP launched a national structural investigation into allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.

“Allowing Ukrainians to stay, work and contribute to society also aligns with the Ukrainians’ goal of trying to identify war crimes that have occurred in Ukraine. Being able to stay in Canada and work here, it is also up to the RCMP and other intelligence agencies to obtain this information,” Moussienko said.

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