Sask. rural municipalities pushing for Ukrainians’ work permits to be expedited | Canadian

As the war in Ukraine surges on, nearly 1,200 Ukrainians have left their homes and livelihoods to settle in Saskatchewan.

However, some of them are struggling to join the workforce and kick-start their new lives due to government requirements.

In a statement to Global News from the federal government, a spokesperson said 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 three years.”

“Ukrainians are eligible for a free open work permit or study permit, which allows them to take a job with almost any Canadian employer or enroll in an education program in Canada,” said Isabelle Dubois of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

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After long journey, Ukrainians in Saskatchewan inch closer to final destinations

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The statement says under the CUAET program, the requirement for Ukrainian applicants to complete an immigration medical exam (IME) before coming to Canada is being waived, where applicable.

“Instead, they may be required to complete a medical diagnostic test within 90 days of arriving in Canada if they were living in Ukraine or another country with a higher incidence of serious communicable disease (e.g. tuberculosis) for 6 consecutive months within the last year before their arrival; or, in certain circumstances, if they have applied for an open work permit,” Dubois said.

The testing “must be completed before they can work in an occupation that could bring them into close contact with vulnerable people, such as child care settings, primary or secondary school teaching, health services or agriculture.”

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) is now pushing for change to help add workers specifically to the agriculture sector more quickly and effectively.

“If we can somehow expedite the process for Ukrainian immigrants coming into Saskatchewan, that would really be helpful,” said SARM president Ray Orb.

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According to Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) executive director Danylo Puderak, the medical testing is not easy to access in Saskatchewan.

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“There are two doctors that are approved as physicians that can administer this program for IRCC,” said Puderak, adding that the inconvenience delays the work permit process by months.

“First of all, the displaced Ukrainian needs to make an appointment with an approved physician. Particularly in rural Saskatchewan, it’s a burden because they have to travel hours because it’s only Saskatoon, Regina, Battlefords or Prince Albert who have doctors that are recognized to conduct those medical exams,” said Puderak.

Puderak said the UCC 100 per cent agrees with what SARM is saying and trying to do for Ukrainians, and would like to see the federal government do something about the situation.

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Owner of Food Safety 1st Russell Scott has been providing free food safety courses for Ukrainians to help them get to work.

From his point of view, the program is only making it harder to make a living for people who have already dealt with enough hardship.

“Hopefully that can be ironed out very quickly so they can have that not as an extra hurdle, that they can get through that very quickly and I think that’s a goal of everybody here,” said Scott.

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Provincial Immigration Minister Jeremy Harrison will be discussing this issue with his provincial and federal counterparts in the coming days during a trip to Saint John,N.B., in hopes of making the push more impactful.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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