MEDIA STATEMENT - NDP continued to call for Visa Free travel for Ukrainians

As the impact of the unprovoked war by Russia continues, Canada must provide support to Afghans and other ethnic minorities also fleeing Putin's war in Ukraine and ensure they have equal access to reach and cross borders, including Indian and African students who have faced discrimination in their attempts to find safety. Immigration measures need to be put in place for them so that they can expeditiously seek refuge in Canada.

NDP Immigration Critic Jenny Kwan’s response to minister announcement

As refugees fleeing Ukraine tops 1 million, it is essential that Canada do everything we can to expeditiously assist in this humanitarian crisis.

While I welcome the Minister's announcement today, the NDP has called for Visa Free travel for Ukraine since 2017. I was disturbed to learn at the Immigration committee today that the Minister said the department simply does not have the capacity to expeditiously put in place visa free travel due to regulatory and technological barriers. The Liberal government cited similar reasons about the delay to get support to seniors whose GIS support was cut because they received CERB benefits. This pattern of behaviour needs to change and the Liberals needs to ensure departmental technology is up to date and has the capacity for rapid response at time of crisis.

In the meantime, setting up biometrics collection capabilities in neighbouring countries is a good an interim measure, this practice should be expanded to Afghans fleeing the Taliban. Vulnerable populations in Afghanistan deserve no less. Witnesses at the Afghanistan Special Committee also called for this measure, and it is time for the government to act on it. Vulnerable populations deserve no less and lives depend on it.

Likewise, I am also calling on the government to provide the extended family sponsorship measures for Ukraine to Afghanistan and Hong Kong. They too are faced with a difficult humanitarian crisis. The Minister calls this a new innovation and however, extended family sponsorship immigration stream is not a new. It is a tried and tested initiative. In fact, many immigrants, myself included, am a product of Canada’s extended family sponsorship measure. The NDP believes this program must return, and it must apply to everyone, especially to Afghans and Hong Kongers.

As Ukrainians make their way to Canada with this temporary resident’s measure, while it’s likely than some many want to return to Ukraine once the region stabilities, however, the Minister must ensure the Immigration Refugee Board is equipped with adequate resources to handle a potential influx of inland refugee applications.

The Minister told members of the Standing Committee on Immigration that these new measures would be only have short-term pressures on other immigration streams, but the reality is that without new resources, is inevitable that other streams will be impacted in the long term. The Liberals must not repeat the same mistakes when no new resources were provided to deal with the crisis in Afghanistan. It added to the chaos and escalation of significant delays in processing for all immigrations streams. The government must not repeat this mistake with the announcement of new Ukraine immigration measures.

As the impact of the unprovoked war by Russia continues, Canada must provide support to Afghans and other ethnic minorities also fleeing Putin's war in Ukraine and ensure they have equal access to reach and cross borders, including Indian and African students who have faced discrimination in their attempts to find safety. Immigration measures need to be put in place for them so that they can expeditiously seek refuge in Canada.

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