‘That’s what British Columbia is doing’: Secretary Cullen praises public response to Ukrainian refugees

As the Russian invasion continues, more and more refugees from Ukraine are arriving in British Columbia. Municipal Affairs Minister Nathan Cullen said he expects the refugees to come in waves.

More than 160,000 Ukrainians have applied for resettlement in Canada as part of Permission Canada-Ukraine for emergency traveland 60,000 have been approved so far. The priority is to resettle as many refugees as possible, making it difficult to track where the refugees end up.

“The numbers are starting to go up,” Cullen said. “We don’t know when, who, how much and where Ukrainians arrive until they arrive, and sometimes even after they arrive, when they show up to send their children to school or contact a local group of settlements.”

Cullen said early arrivals are likely to involve friends and family to ease the resettlement process, but the next waves of refugees are likely to rely more heavily on government and non-profit support.

When the Ukrainians arrive, they will receive the right to health care and education as soon as possible. British Columbia recently removed the three-month waiting period for MSP-covered medical care for all Ukrainian refugees settled in the province, although refugees will still be required to apply for MSP insurance upon arrival.

“While their applications are being processed, people can go to hospitals and doctors if they need to,” Cullen said. “We suspect people will need both physical medical needs and mental health – these people are fleeing a brutal war and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they’ll need help when they land.”

So far, refugees have been welcomed to British Columbia with open arms, with many residents offering housing, donations and job opportunities. Belongs to the government Welcoming Ukraine The webpage is a section for British Columbians to donate and offer housing if they so desire.

Accommodation is checked One waywhich manages most of the support to provide suitable and safe housing.

“There are also alternative streams where community groups self-organize, arrange accommodation and support, and connect with Ukrainians fleeing the war to help them settle in communities across British Columbia,” Cullen said.

If housing is found to be unsuitable, refugees may contact the provincial government or the resettlement agency they have worked with to find alternative housing.

“It happens to every group of refugees that we have settled. You keep working on the problem and you keep working on the situation to bring it into line. The situation with the refugees themselves will also change,” Cullen said. “There are initial needs when they are here for the first few months, but what they hope for and what they desire may change in the following months.”

Along with the efforts of ordinary British Columbians, Cullen said municipalities have taken responsibility by providing municipal housing and developing community-based support.

“This is what British Columbia does. Some will say that we did not do enough, but we never claimed that we did too much. Even with a tight housing market and other pressures on the system, ultimately giving, supporting and being generous is what we do and what we should do because it is the best of us.”

All provincial and federal programs are temporary. Cullen did not speculate about what would happen if the war required permanent resettlement of Ukrainians in the future, but he noted that British Columbia would need new immigrants in the coming years.

“It would not surprise me if a fair number [of refugees] decided to stay in Canada given the support we see.”


@SchislerCole
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