N.S. speeds up application process for Ukrainians, partners with YMCA to offer supports

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Labour, Skills and Immigration Minister Jill Balser speaks at a news conference Wednesday, April 20, 2022. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)
Labour, Skills and Immigration Minister Jill Balser speaks at a news conference Wednesday, April 20, 2022. (Robert Short/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government says it is "urgently" processing applications from Ukrainian nationals hoping to come to the province.

It is part of efforts to streamline the immigration process for Ukrainians fleeing the war in their country and make it easier for newcomers to settle in Nova Scotia, said the province Wednesday in a news release.

Those efforts also include working with the YMCA to help Ukrainians arriving in the province access employment and community supports, including settlement and language services.

Jill Balser, the province's immigration minister, said the provincial government is working with the local Ukrainian community and partners to identify gaps in supports for Ukrainians coming to Nova Scotia.

"Language training, information sessions, guidance to help access the labour market and services tailored to the needs of women, seniors, youth and 2SLGBTIQ+ [two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, questioning] people will better support Ukrainians looking to settle in our communities," she said.

Adapting to 'an evolving situation'

The province said in the news release that Ukrainian newcomers will be eligible for all provincially funded settlement programming.

Lorrie Turnbull, chief development officer for the Halifax YMCA, said the charity has a long history of supporting the settlement of newcomers across the province and it's preparing to support Ukrainians arriving at the airport.

"It's an evolving situation," Turnbull said in an interview Wednesday. "I expect that over the next several weeks we'll start to see more Ukrainians arriving in Nova Scotia, and I think that our province is ready to help."

Turnbull said the YMCA has set up a translated website where Ukrainians arriving in Nova Scotia can see critical information and links to resources.

In March, the provincial government donated $100,000 to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation to provide humanitarian aid and support to people in Ukraine.

The Nova Scotia Office of Immigration will be hosting online information sessions on how Ukrainians can access its programs.

While the number of Ukrainians arriving in Nova Scotia is unknown, Premier Tim Houston said the province hopes to eventually welcome thousands of newcomers from the country.

"We're working to make sure our arms are open to them and that we make that transition as smooth as possible," he said.

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