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Ukrainian newcomers in Canada struggle to make ends meet


Toronto –

Sabina Abilova and Andrii Koziura sit on the dinner desk of their basement condominium, laptops open, trying to find jobs that may assist them pay for subsequent month’s lease.

The Ukrainian newcomers arrived in Toronto just some weeks in the past, trying to escape the battle of their nation, and have been burning by their financial savings as they’re confronted with the excessive price of residing within the metropolis.

“The costs listed below are fairly excessive,” Abilova, 28, says in an interview. “If we do not discover a job, we can’t have the ability to keep right here for lengthy.”

The price of housing is proving to be one of many prime points for Ukrainian newcomers arriving underneath a particular federal program introduced in March that permits them to work or research in Canada for 3 years.

Abilova and Koziura have been on trip in Argentina when Russia started invading Ukraine in February. The couple determined to use to return to Canada since Abilova’s sister already lived in Toronto, having arrived as a pupil eight years in the past.

Being authorized underneath this system was comparatively simple, however getting info and assist on issues like housing, public transit and employment has been powerful, Abilova says.

“In Ukraine, we had an excellent, regular life and now we’ve to go and discover assist all over the place, to ask for assist, reductions and every little thing and it is not a very good scenario,” she says.

“It is tough as a result of I wasn’t anticipating Canada to be like that.”

Abilova and Koziura now stay in a two-bedroom basement condominium in west Toronto with Abilova’s mom and 13-year-old brother, who already had customer visas for Canada earlier than the warfare started.

They pay $2,000 in lease monthly and are at present counting on financial savings to pay for his or her bills, Koziura says.

The couple has utilized for a $600 month-to-month social assist cost from the Ontario authorities and a one-time $3,000 cost from the federal authorities whereas in search of jobs, he says.

Koziura, 27, says he used to work as a software program product supervisor in Ukraine and is hoping to discover a job in his area.

“Our preliminary plan was to return right here, keep right here for a number of months and resolve the place we’re going to keep, how simple it’s to remain in Canada, and we have not managed to discover a job but,” he says.

“The scenario with the warfare is kind of difficult. We do not know when it ends. And we do not know what our long-term plans are. Are going to obtain the citizenship right here … are we going to get again residence ?”

Ihor Michalchyshyn, the chief director of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, says housing is the primary problem dealing with Ukrainian newcomers, particularly in Ontario.

Refugee settlement companies funded by the federal authorities aren’t technically allowed to assist Ukrainian newcomers with housing as a result of these arriving underneath the particular program aren’t acknowledged as refugees, he says.

“They do not have entry to the identical, as an example, full suites or full providers {that a} refugee from wherever would have,” he says.

“We would name them refugees, (however) they are not technically, legally within the eyes of the government-funded companies, refugees.”

His group and the Ontario Council of Businesses Serving Immigrants wrote final month to Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser calling on him to permit settlement companies to make use of federal funds to assist Ukrainian newcomers’ housing prices.

Michalchyshyn says his group has additionally been pushing for earnings assist for Ukrainian newcomers.

A spokeswoman for Fraser says the federal authorities has a program that gives Ukrainian newcomers with one-time monetary help of $3,000 per grownup and $1,500 per youngster.

“These funds will assist Ukrainian nationals and their members of the family meet their fundamental wants—corresponding to transportation and longer-term housing—as they arrive in communities throughout Canada and discover a job,” Aidan Strickland wrote in an announcement.

“We acknowledge that main city facilities throughout Canada are at present dealing with difficulties in securing momentary lodging this summer season, in addition to housing challenges from each an affordability and an availability standpoint.”

Janet Dench, the chief director of the Canadian Council for Refugees says the particular program for Ukrainians has the benefit of being open to an infinite variety of individuals however doesn’t include the assist government-sponsored refugees sometimes obtain.

“From a political perspective, it has some great benefits of being actually fast and being open,” she says in an interview.

“(Ukrainian) individuals could also be ‘okay, nicely, we’ll come to Canada and we’ll have the ability to have all of our wants met,’ however they weren’t essentially knowledgeable or realizing that each one they have been getting is a piece allow and a customer visa. They don’t seem to be getting an entire system of assist.”

Michalchyshyn, of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, says the housing scenario for Ukrainian newcomers is more difficult in Ontario than different provinces. The typical month-to-month rental worth for a one-bedroom condominium in Toronto was $2,133 in June, knowledge from Leases.ca confirmed, in comparison with $1,538 in Montreal and $1,669 in Halifax.

“In all probability greater than 60 per cent of (Ukrainian) individuals in Canada are arriving in Toronto, to the GTA, after which … struggling to search out housing of any type,” he says.

Ukrainian neighborhood teams, together with church buildings and neighborhood companies and organizations, are looking for host households, empty residences and emergency shelter areas, he says.

“There’s only a very excessive demand and really low availability,” he says.

Ontario Labor Minister Monte McNaughton, who’s chargeable for immigration, says his division is working with different authorities departments and municipalities to assist these Ukrainians.

“Definitely, it is a problem,” he says in an interview.

“We’re working with our municipal companions … to establish the housing stock so these individuals have secure shelter and a secure place right here in Ontario.”

Based on the federal authorities, 55,488 Ukrainians arrived in Canada between Jan. 1 and June 26.

The federal government says it obtained 343,283 functions underneath the brand new program for Ukrainians between March 17 and June 28, and 146,461 have been authorized.


– with information from Holly McKenzie-Sutter.


This report by The Canadian Press was first revealed July 10, 2022.

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