SARM calling for Feds to cut red tape for Ukrainians

Sask Today

Rural municipalities expressing concerns that Ukrainian immigrants are delayed in getting work permits

John Cairns - about 20 hours ago

REGINA - The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities is expressing concern that Ukrainian immigrants to Canada are encountering significant red tape in trying to obtain jobs.

The organization states in a news release that they are “proud that Canada was quick to act and allowed Ukrainian nationals into the country under the Canada- Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program.”

But SARM noted these new arrivals still face challenges, particularly around securing employment. 

They point out there are medical caveats around vaccination status, the prospect of up to fourteen days in quarantine, and additional medical exams. They note Ukrainians who have not had medical exams prior to arrival may be asked to undergo additional tests by a physician approved by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. 

The organization states that just nine federally approved Panel Physicians are able to provide this service in Saskatchewan according to the federal government's website: six in Saskatoon and one each in Regina, Prince Albert, and North Battleford. 

Then, once Ukrainians receive their medical results, they can apply to IRCC to remove the restrictions from their work permit but must re-apply for an open work permit in Canada. 

SARM expressed these additional steps are causing delays and creating barriers to entering the workforce. They are calling on the Feds to “evaluate its process and the requirements for newcomers to get proper permits to enter the Canadian workforce. Focus on efficiency and reduce barriers so employers can access readily available employees. The time is now to build a more resilient workforce and strengthen the economy.“

“Our government has welcomed more than 1,000 Ukrainian citizens to Saskatchewan since the conflict began, providing a supportive environment with access to community supports and job opportunities,” said Minister of Immigration and Career Training Jeremy Harrison in a statement. "We are calling on the federal government to remove these onerous medical restrictions to allow an expedited transition for displaced Ukrainians into the growing Saskatchewan workforce so they can support their families and secure their financial future right here in Canada."

"Help wanted signs are everywhere right now, so it is a shame to think that we have newcomers seeking employment, unable to enter the workforce because of bureaucratic red tape that may be unnecessary," said SARM President, Ray Orb in a statement. "This has dire financial consequences for those seeking refuge, and it's not good for employers either. I routinely hear from Saskatchewan farmers and ranchers looking for skilled labour to join their operations. Ukraine is known to have strong agricultural ties, and Saskatchewan is poised to welcome those workers that can bring that knowledge and experience here."