OTTAWA — The government will help Ukrainians arriving in Canada find a job and learn to speak English or French, Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said Monday.
Applications opened March 17 for a program to allow an unlimited number of Ukrainians fleeing war in their home country to come to Canada for up to three years while they decide whether they want to apply for permanent residency.
Those who are approved can work or study in Canada during their stay.
The Immigration Department says nearly 60,000 Ukrainians and their family members have applied for the program so far.
"We're expanding the federal settlement program to offer key services such as language training, orientation, employment assistance and other supports for Ukrainians as they settle into their new communities," Fraser said as part of a series of Tweets Monday.
More details are expected Tuesday.
The department estimated it would take about two weeks to process each application, so Ukrainians could begin to arrive under the new program as early as this weekend.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine sparked a mass exodus of mainly women and children who fled the violence that erupted one month ago.
The UN refugee agency estimates 3.8 million people have fled Ukraine since Feb. 24.
The temporary program for people who have left Ukraine is unlike the regular process for refugees, which includes help to find housing and community orientation.
Fraser's department is working on more ways to help settle the potentially thousands of Ukrainians who could come to Canada over the next several weeks.
"We’ll continue to support Ukrainians, before and after they arrive in Canada," the minister tweeted.
Beginning Friday, help will be available at certain airports to welcome Ukrainians, with assistance and arrival information in their language.
The Ukrainian Congress has called on the government to provide the new arrivals with financial support for food and shelter during a three-month transitional period.
On Monday the government announced a special grant program for graduate students and post-doctoral researchers affected by the invasion.
"We are establishing this measure as another way of demonstrating our support for Ukraine, to help Ukrainian researchers and students working in Canada to continue their important work," Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said in a statement.
"It will also help protect the future growth of the Ukrainian scientific community."
The program will provide grants of up to $45,000 for Ukrainians who wish to continue their studies and research in Canada, as well as Ukrainians in Canada who can't return home because of the war.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2022.
Laura Osman, The Canadian Press