A new report says Canada needs to change its federal visa policy to speed up the admission of Ukrainian refugees, which has slowed to a trickle.
The University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy study released Thursday indicates that, compared to other countries, Canada has taken in a small number of the millions of Ukrainians who have been displaced since Russia invaded. this Eastern European country in February.
“Applications from Ukrainians are starting to far exceed the number that is granted by the Canadian government and we don’t even have a really clear picture of the number of Ukrainians entering the country,” said author Robert Falconer.
Statistics show that the Canada-Ukraine Emergency Travel Authorization Program (CUAET), which expedites visas and temporary residence permits for Ukrainians and their families, is not enough, he said .
As of June 22, about 190,000 Ukrainians had pending applications to come to Canada, up from about 140,000 a month earlier.
Falconer said the scheme, requiring those arriving to have a visa, is to blame for Canada’s lagging behind other countries, including Ireland, which has waived its visa requirement.
“One of the objections in the parliamentary committee was that if we let the Ukrainians in, Russian spies would use them to infiltrate the system,” he said.
“Russian espionage exists, but the refugee channel is one of the most ineffective ways to try to infiltrate a Russian spy into the country.”
Falconer said federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, with appropriate resources, would be able to manage security risks involving the visa process. He recommends that Canada adopt the Irish model or another option for carrying out visa checks once people arrive.
“If we don’t follow the Irish model, I would say we follow what’s called the arrival model, which many countries do. When you get to the airport, you have to wait a little while while the government officials do the security checks,” Falconer said.
“You do risk assessments and can probably control this eight-year-old who is probably not a Russian spy while an unaccompanied man in his mid-twenties…you could hold him while you process the background check and let him in Let them get here to safety first, then deal with them from there.
Falconer said an overwhelming number of Canadians support the arrival of large numbers of Ukrainian refugees and that our country has the highest percentage of people of Ukrainian descent after Ukraine and Russia.
The report says Canada and the UK have similar processes for admitting Ukrainian refugees and the numbers are comparable.
It says around 13 times more Ukrainian refugees per capita arrived in Ireland than in the UK in the first two months of the invasion.
Falconer said the report’s findings needed to be passed on to the federal government, but he’s not sure that would result in a relaxation of the requirements.
“I think they’re probably aware. I think they’re very, very, very concerned – less about Ukrainians and more about how the immigration file is going in general.”