Today, the NDP critic and deputy critic for immigration, refugees and citizenship, Jenny Kwan and Blake Desjarlais, made the following statement:
“Since Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, 1.5 million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes. Many came to Canada after the initial invasion eight years ago and have successfully resettled in communities across the country.
Yesterday, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the situation for people on the ground has become unfathomably more dire. With the growing humanitarian crisis in their home country, Ukrainians will be seeking safety and refuge in Canada.
Since 2018, NDP MPs have been calling for visa-free access for Ukrainians and, just last year, our colleague Daniel Blaikie sent a letter to the government calling for urgent action.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is calling for neighbouring countries to keep their borders open to those seeking safety and protection from this act of aggression. Canada is recognized for its historical leadership in humanitarian actions in the global community and we must also play our part now. We are calling for the Liberal government to enact new special refugee immigration measures and work collaborative with the UNHCR to support and resettle those who have been displaced by this escalating humanitarian crisis.
New Democrats are also calling on the government to automatically extend expiring documents and visitor, work and study permits for all Ukrainians currently in Canada. Those who are already here in Canada should not be compelled to return due to the severe risks and danger in Ukraine.
While prioritizing permanent residency applications and travel documents for Ukraine is a necessary measure, the Liberals must not repeat the mistakes they have made with the Afghanistan humanitarian crisis. They must ensure this work is done properly with new staffing resources and immigration levels so that the existing significant backlog for all streams within IRCC is not further impacted.
In light of the escalating crisis, it must be recognized that Ukrainians fleeing the dangers of their homeland do not have months to spare. The most urgent action is required.”