By the end of March, Canadians can expect Ukrainian refugees to reach our shores by the tens of thousands.
Since March 2022, 936,293 temporary emergency visas have been issued to Ukrainians amid the ongoing war with Russia. Only 210,178 people have come to Canada as of November 28, reported The Canadian Press.
Those who applied circa July 15 for the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program have until March 31 to travel to Canada.
As many as 90,000 more emergency visa holders are expected to come before the deadline, according to pre-arrival surveys by the Department of Immigration.
"There is no limit [to how many refugees we will accept]," said the memo, Information On Ukrainian Nationals Coming To Canada. The United Nations Refugee Agency estimated more than 6.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine since February 2022.
"We don't have the level of public interest that we did two years ago," said Sarosh Rizvi, the organization's executive director. Instead, support has come via taxpayer handouts mandated by the federal government.
The Department of Foreign Affairs estimated "immigration measures" including free flights and grants to refugees cost at least $1 billion.
"It’s one thing to promise the money," Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters August 25, 2022. "It’s another thing for that money to hit Ukrainian bank accounts. You don’t need to trust me about this."
Upon arrival, Ukrainians received taxpayer grants of up to $3,000 per adult and $1,500 per minor under the CUAET program. They also received a whole slew of benefits, including shelter aid, Social Insurance Numbers and work permits.
"These funds will help Ukrainian nationals and their family members meet their basic needs such as transportation and longer-term housing as they arrive in communities across Canada and find a job," said the December 1 briefing note Service Canada Support To Ukrainian Newcomers by the Department of Employment.
The Department of Finance asked Canadians if they agreed with providing Ukrainians more financial aid to defend against Russia. Only 32% agreed.
But the money received by visa holders evaporated upon arrival, with landlords siphoning the funds by requesting at least three months' rent upfront.
In December 2022, Oleksandra Balytska landed in Toronto and could only afford "two ramens" because of food inflation.
A "brutal" job market eventually sent her packing after her employer let her go last summer.
"I think every element is about to be tested," added Rizvi, from settlement staff to hotel capacity and even food banks.
As reported by CBC News last August, Andrei Zavialov, a Ukrainian Canadian Social Services Toronto settlement worker, knew of 15 Ukrainians who have left the Greater Toronto Area for their native homeland.
Zavialov 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.