Myths about easy life in Canada
People flying into Canada on a Canada-Ukraine Emergency Entry Permit risk ending up with nothing in a foreign country.
Reality. Canadian-Ukrainian Emergency Entry Permit (CUAET) is not a refugee program. The Canadian federal government does not promise flight, benefits, or housing.
What does CUAET guarantee you?
- The right to remain in Canada for up to three years.
- The right to apply for a job wherever you are hired.
- The right to study for free in elementary and secondary school.
- The right to apply for permanent residency on general grounds (you will have to prove to Immigration Canada that you know the language, you have money, housing and a job).
So far, only one official assistance program is known: On March 17, the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador sent its staff to Poland to advertise the province, inform Ukrainians about specific provincial support measures and help them contact a suitable employer. This means that if you already qualify for a provincial immigration program such as the Skilled Worker stream, you will be given a free explanation of what awaits you in Canada and what steps you must take to immigrate. Since you are eligible to enter Canada under CUAET, you can go straight to Newfoundland and Labrador and start working for the employer you are matched with.
Canada has food banks, places where people in need are given free food. There are social services and a Christian charity called the Salvation Army. But flying to Canada with no money and young children, relying only on charity, is pretty reckless.
If you have your baby in Canada, you will have to pay for the birth. But your baby will be a Canadian citizen from birth. It won't do anything for the parents — only the child will automatically qualify for conditional free public health care in Canada and free secondary education.
If you get emergency medical care, you still have to pay. Read the story of the girl who owed the Canadian provincial health care system $38,000 CAD after a suicide attempt. It was easier to raise money from people who cared through a crowdfunding platform than to get the debt cancelled or reduced legally.
Myth #3. You can easily learn a language without special courses when you are in a country where everyone speaks it.
Reality. It all depends on you. Some immigrants really succeed. Some live in a foreign country for decades, communicating only with family and compatriots, and have difficulty explaining themselves to the locals.
No one promised Ukrainian-language, Russian-language schools for children either. All the schools where teach children in Russian are private. If children don't know English at all, it will be hard for them to study in an English-speaking school in Canada.
A separate story is the province of Quebec, where without knowledge of French it would be uncomfortable even for an adult. Now in Quebec they want Ukrainian children to study in French schools.
Oddly enough, for a child who knows neither English nor French, it may be a more comfortable option — Quebec has a mentoring system for both students who do not speak English and adult immigrants. And Prince Edward Island, which also has a large French-speaking population, recently launched free online French courses for immigrant parents.
Is it worth going to Canada?
It is worth it if you are ready to work hard and persistently — and if you have at least some options for housing and work in the beginning. It is advisable to soberly assess your chances of obtaining permanent residency in Canada. Also keep in mind that in Canada a lot of things seem unusual for Ukrainian — another mentality, other laws.
If you do not know English at all and do not have a profession in demand, it may be cheaper and more comfortable to stay in Poland or other CIS countries.
And even if you are prepared for the difficulties, try to find housing, jobs, and acquaintances willing to help before you fly to Canada.