‘I want to see my kids, my wife’: More than 300 Ukrainians land in Halifax Thursday

A plane carrying more than 300 Ukrainians fleeing war landed at Halifax Stanfield International Airport Thursday evening.

Oleksandr Slobodianiuk flew from Winnipeg, Man., to meet his family on the plane.

“I’m happy,” said Slobodianiuk Thursday afternoon before the plane touched down. “I didn’t see them for eight months, and I want to see them. I want to see my kids, my wife.”

Others came to welcome the newcomers — despite not knowing anyone on board.

“I’ve spent a lot of time in Ukraine over the past 11 years doing volunteer work and it’s become a second home to me,” said Blair Haverstock.

The plane left Warsaw, Poland Thursday morning with 319 Ukrainians onboard.

The federal government is putting up people in hotels for two weeks.

“Not all people are going to the hotel,” said Jennifer L’Esperance from Nova Scotia’s Office of Immigration and Population Growth in an interview with CTV News Wednesday.

“Some already have arranged accommodations, and for those who don’t there’ll be several options they can choose from in terms of which accommodations work for them after those 14 days.”

Labour, Skills and Immigration Minister Jill Balser says many in the province have pitched in to help with the arrival.

“Conference centers, hotels, landlords, and of course Nova Scotians who have been offering housing,” said Balser. “So, we do have a list of housing options and that’s again growing because of the nature of today and the importance of today.”

Newcomers are also eligible for financial assistance from Ottawa starting Thursday — $3,000 for each adult and $1,500 for a child under 17.

This is the third federal charter flight that has brought Ukrainians to Canada since the start of the war.

The first brought 328 Ukrainians to Winnipeg on May 23 and the second brought 306 people to Montréal, Que., on May 29.

The flights were available to Ukrainian nationals and their family members approved through the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program.

The program provides Ukrainians and their immediate family members of any nationality the opportunity to stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada says from March 17 to May 25, it received just over 259,000 CUAET applications, of which more than 120,000 have been approved.

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