Though the Russia-Ukraine war has no end in sight, several Ukrainian refugees eye a return home, having learned that Canada is not the be-all and end-all they thought.
As reported by the CBC, Andrei Zavialov, a Ukrainian Canadian Social Services Toronto settlement worker, knows of 15 Ukrainians who have left the Greater Toronto Area for their native homeland.
The social worker surveyed 734 emergency visa holders residing in Toronto, and only 40.2% said they wanted to stay in Canada permanently.
Of the respondents, one in 20 would return to Ukraine, while another 5% would go elsewhere in Europe "at the first opportunity." One in 10 (11.6%) would return to Ukraine after the war, with the rest still deciding.
According to Zavialov, "parents, family, and relatives" motivated respondents to consider returning, while others missed life in Ukraine.
Oleksandra Balytska is one of 60,000 Ukrainians who emigrated to Ontario as an emergency visa holder but is now calling it quits and returning home.
Last year, her employer, a Canadian artificial intelligence start-up, invited Balytska to move to Toronto. After six months, they let her go.
Under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program, the federal government paid each adult a one-time payment of $3,000, while families with children received $1,500 for each child.
However, that money evaporated as soon as many landed in Toronto, with landlords gobbling up the funds by requesting at least three months' rent upfront. Some had to pay more, she said.
When Balytska landed in Toronto last December, she could only afford "two ramens" because of the costly price of groceries.
Amidst a "brutal" job market, she has yet to find employment and has decided to return home.
While over 1.1 million Ukrainians have applied for temporary residency in Canada to escape the war against Russia, Blacklock's Reporter learned that only 166,849 Ukrainians have come as of July 1.
"There is no limit [to how many refugees we will accept]," said a memo, "Information On Ukrainian Nationals Coming To Canada."
Since last February, Immigration Canada has approved nearly 793,804 visas through CUAET. Only 4,500 Ukrainians have immigrated to Canada through regular programs.
According to an internal Department of Finance poll published by Blacklock's Reporter, fewer than a third (32%) of Canadians support more financial aid for Ukraine. 36% of Canadians oppose ongoing help, whereas 33% have no opinion.
Ottawa's budget document, A Made In Canada Plan, said current loans, grants and military aid to Ukrainians totalled $5.4 billion with "an additional loan of $2.4 billion for 2023."
The Cabinet also proposed an additional $200 million in military aid and $84.8 million in civilian assistance to pay Ukrainian pensions and deliver essential services to the country.
In June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $500 million more in military aid for the war-torn nation and an additional $541 million last month.