Premier Doug Ford wants to fast-track potential Ukrainian refugees to Ontario, where he says jobs and settlement services will be waiting for them. 

Ford said Friday he’s discussing with Ottawa how his province can help resettle people who are fleeing the Russian invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

“We need to speed things up, expedite people fleeing the tyranny that Russia has put on Ukraine,” Ford said in London, Ont.

“I’m going to be speaking to the federal government over the weekend and hopefully this afternoon to see what Ontario can do to speed the process up.”

Canada has already promised to prioritize immigration applications from Ukraine. On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the creation of a new hotline for people with immigration questions related to Ukraine.

Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said companies have been in touch to offer up job openings for Ukrainian refugees. He said 20,000 spots have already been offered from one union, and the province is open to welcoming more people.

“We’ve had dozens of employers reaching out to help these people and the government’s going to have their backs,” he said with Ford.

McNaughton said he spoke with federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser about options for a settlement stream to Ontario that would involve jobs for new arrivals from Ukraine and possibly other services.

Ford’s call for Canada to accept Ukrainians seeking refuge from the Russian invasion was echoed by the group representing mayors of Ontario’s largest cities. 

Ontario’s Big City Mayors passed a resolution at a Friday meeting recognizing Ukraine’s sovereignty. The group resolved to “call on the federal government to welcome those fleeing the conflict with Ukraine into our country with open arms.” 

Ontario has pledged to spend $300,000 in humanitarian aid to support Ukrainians in need. The Canada-Ukraine Foundation is to distribute the funds. 

On Friday, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath called on the province to commit more money. She said the province should make a “base donation” of $3 million and commit to match each dollar donated in Ontario to the Canada-Ukraine Foundation.

The provincial government has also directed the LCBO to stop selling Russian products.

Ford said his government also looking into other economic measures against the country. He said his government is assessing all the trade Ontario does with Russia and he plans to discuss options with Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“I’ll throw everything in the kitchen book at these guys,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2022.

Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press



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