It is unknown how many refugees will arrive in Newfoundland or when they will arrive.
As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, driving more than one million people – and counting – to escape their homes, Newfoundland and Labrador is preparing for an inflow of refugees.

Megan Morris, executive director of the Association for New Canadians, told CBC News on Thursday that the group has already begun discussions with the federal and provincial governments.

“We’re getting ready to welcome folks,” Morris added. “Because we have a lot of expertise with relocation projects, the planning is well underway.”

Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced on Thursday that the government is lifting most visa limits and will admit a “unlimited number” of travellers under the Canada Ukraine Authorization For Emergency Travel programme.

Accepted applicants will receive a two-year open work or study permit if they produce biometrics and pass a background check. In two weeks, applications will be available.

Making preparations
Morris stated that the group was ready to relocate more than 150 Afghan refugees in Newfoundland and Labrador last autumn, and that it will be ready to do so again when Ukrainian migrants come.

“We have the infrastructure and the programmes,” she explained. “If we know we’re going to be called to stand up and resettle a bunch, we’ll be ready.”

This involves everything from finding housing to programmes for children to psychological counselling for persons leaving harsh situations.

Provincial Immigration Minister Gerry Byrne told CBC News that the province is also planning to invite refugees to the province. He stated that he will meet with Fraser directly to convey his desire in bringing Ukrainian refugees to the province.

“Newfoundland and Labrador will welcome Ukrainians and those living in Ukraine with open arms,” Byrne stated.

According to Statistics Canada statistics from 2016, there are now over 1,300 Ukrainian Canadians in Newfoundland and Labrador. The provincial government has established a help centre to assist citizens who are attempting to bring relatives from Ukraine to Newfoundland and Labrador.

While this is the first time the government has used a help desk of this type, Byrne stated that it may do it again in the future.

“If a comparable event, such as a humanitarian disaster, arises, we will use it again.”

Morris stated that the Association for New Canadians got “amazing” support from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians when Afghan refugees came last autumn, and she anticipates a similar level of support when Ukrainian migrants come.

“Our community has often proved its willingness and openness to assisting immigrants and refugees,” she remarked.

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