Canada prepared to welcome an 'unlimited number' of Ukrainians fleeing war, minister says_freckle removal cream uk

Canada prepared to welcome an 'unlimited number' of Ukrainians fleeing war, minister saysImmigration Minister Sean Fraser announced Thursday the federal government has created two new pathways for Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country to come to Canada — part of a plan to accept an "unlimited number" of people who want to leave.

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Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says Canada is waiving most typical visa requirements

John Paul Tasker · CBC News(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Immigration Minister Sean Fraser announced Thursday the federal government has created two new pathways for Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country to come to Canada — part of a plan to accept an "unlimited number" of people who want to leave.

To start, Fraser said his department has created a new visa category that will allow a limitless number of Ukrainians to come to Canada to live, work or study here for up to two years.

People accepted under the Canada Ukraine Authorization For Emergency Travel program will have an open work or study permit and employers will be free to hire as many Ukrainians as they want.

Fraser said the federal government is waiving most of the typical visa requirements but applicants will still need to supply biometrics and undergo a background screening process before leaving for Canada. The application process will open in two weeks' time.

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Fraser said the department is prepared for a possible influx of Ukrainians and there are biometric kits and personnel ready to assist would-be applicants at diplomatic posts in Warsaw, Vienna and Bucharest and at 30 other locations throughout Europe. Canada is also waiving application fees for all Ukrainians who want to avail themselves of this program.

NDP wants Canada to drop visa requirement

Fraser also announced the government is introducing an "expedited path" to permanent residency for Ukrainians with family in Canada. The minister said a "wider circle of family members" will be able to sponsor Ukrainians who want to come to Canada on a more permanent basis.

Some critics, including NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, have called on the government to drop the visa requirement altogether to allow all Ukrainians to travel to Canada unencumbered.

Asked about the possibility of visa-free travel for Ukrainians, Fraser said that sort of change would require 12 to 14 weeks of work to implement because the department's IT systems would need "certain renovations" and airlines would have to change their normal processes. He said the situation is urgent and there's no time for a three-month delay.

WATCH | Fraser speaks to CBC's Power & Politics about plans to waive most visa requirements

Feds waive most typical visa requirements for Ukrainians, but stop short of waiving visas completely

15 hours agoDuration 10:11"We don't want to open the door for folks who might cause damage to our national security interest...and, it would have taken a couple months longer to implement a visa waiver," says Immigration Minister Sean Fraser on why the feds are not waiving visa requirements for Ukrainians.10:11

Fraser also said it's prudent to conduct background checks on all applicants to weed out any Russian collaborators. He said a blanket visa waiver would mean some people could "slip through the cracks," including people aligned with Russia who have attacked Ukrainian forces in the breakaway regions of the Donbas.

The Ukrainian Canadian Congress said the new pathways will help some of the nearly one million people who've already fled the country.

"Canada, together with all civilized nations, is mobilizing in support of efforts to help these innocent people. Our community is grateful," the group's president, Alexandra Chyczij, said in a media statement.

"Russia is trying to destroy Ukrainian cities and towns from the air. These are crimes against humanity that are causing a humanitarian catastrophe not seen in Europe since World War II."

Canada slaps massive tariff on all Russian imports

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland also announced Thursday more measures to tighten the screws on the Russian economy.

As punishment for what Freeland called a "barbaric" invasion of Ukraine, Canada is slapping a steep 35 per cent tariff on all exports from both Russia and Belarus — a country that has been used as a staging ground by Russian troops. The change could effectively halt all trade between Canada and these former Soviet bloc countries.

Canada is also levying sanctions on two major Russian oil and gas producers, Rosneft and Gazprom. The move follows an earlier decision to halt all petroleum imports from Russia.

With the addition of these two major oil companies, Canada has now sanctioned more than 1,000 Russian individuals and entities.

WATCH | UN planning for up to four million refugees

UN Refugee Agency plans for up to 4 million Ukrainians to leave the country

15 hours agoDuration 7:05As more than a million Ukrainians flee the war, Deputy High Commissioner Kelly Clements of the UN Refugee Agency says they're planning for up to 4 million people to leave the country. "We're all quite astounded with how quickly the situation within Ukraine has deteriorated."(Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

Two major credit rating agencies, Moody's and Fitch, have downgraded Russian government debt to junk status, which will make it increasingly difficult for Putin and his regime to borrow any money to fund its war machine. The country's currency, the ruble, has been on a precipitous decline since the invasion and the resulting sanctions, dropping in value by some 30 per cent against the U.S. dollar.

"The economic costs of the Kremlin's barbaric war machine are already high and they will continue to rise," Freeland said. "I do want the Russian leadership to understand that we're going to keep going. There is a tremendous willingness among the world's democracies to just continue ratcheting up the pressure."

Government promises to address tariff fallout

At a separate announcement on support for small businesses, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government is prepared to help any companies that experience disruption as a result of Canada's aggressive economic actions against Russia.

While Canadian companies have relatively little exposure to the Russian economy — two-way trade plummeted after Putin's seizure of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 — there could be some fallout for some importers now faced with a maze of red tape and eye-popping sanctions on the goods they bring in from the region.

With oil out of the picture, Canada's largest import from Russia is platinum.

WATCH: Trudeau says Canada's response to Ukrainian refugees is built off the Syrian refugee crisis

Trudeau says Canada's response to Ukrainian refugees is built off the Syrian refugee crisis

21 hours agoDuration 2:17Trudeau said 'we are guided by the same values, the same principles but adjust to what the needs are on the ground.'In Lviv, Ukraine, civilians take resistance to Russia into their own hands

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