A coalition of Canadian companies is planning to help bring 1,000 Ukrainian families displaced by war to Canada.
The 18 Quebec-based companies will provide Ukrainian newcomers with jobs, access to lodging and support “until the situation stabilizes,” the coalition said in a release. The initiative includes paying for flights to Canada; hotel accommodation until families can find permanent housing; and help setting up things such as credit cards, public transport cards and cellphone plans.
The coalition includes prominent Montreal employers Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., National Bank of Canada, Bombardier Inc., KPMG Canada, and music and media provider Stingray Group Inc.
The initiative was organized by Eric Boyko, chief executive officer of Stingray. His company employs nearly 40 people at its office in Lviv. He said he couldn’t sit by without doing his part. Of Ukrainian descent himself, Mr. Boyko said he is thinking of his family near Lviv, Ukraine’s sixth-largest city, and his cousins who are currently in Warsaw, preparing to travel to Canada.
“I called a few friends and everybody was ready to get involved,” Mr. Boyko said in an interview. “Before the weekend we were just 10 companies. Then one company president spoke to another president, and by Monday, we were at 18.”
Also part of the coalition are the investment firm Investissements Novacap Inc.; technology firms Coveo Solutions Inc. and Plusgrade; construction companies Pomerleau Inc. and SAJO; trucking company Trans-Pro Logistics; delivery company Intelcom Courier Canada; pulp provider Resolute Forest Products Inc.; real estate developer Broccolini; and several manufacturers: CAE Inc., Groupe Helios Inc., JPMA Global Inc. and 5N Plus Inc.
Companies will choose job applicants for a variety of roles, including tech, engineering, accounting, IT, operations and manufacturing. Some companies may bring over employees who already work at their Ukrainian offices, while those that don’t have overseas branches will also work with recruitment firms in Ukraine. Each company will be responsible for its own hiring.
For technology and IT roles, Mr. Boyko said, a typical salary in Montreal is around $120,000. Even if the armed conflict in Ukraine is resolved within a few months, he said, this will give Ukrainians the ability to earn high wages to support their families while cities back home are being rebuilt.
“The good news is all these employees come into work at the same salaries than our team members,” Mr. Boyko said. “At that position, you can easily find an apartment.”
The coalition is pooling human resources functions to build an online portal for Ukrainian applicants, which the companies will use to select workers.
Ukrainians who want to work with coalition companies will still have to apply to come to Canada through government channels. Ottawa announced that Ukrainians seeking safe haven would be allowed to reside temporarily in Canada for up to three years through the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET), after which they can apply to extend their stay.
The CUAET portal is now open. Ukrainians without passports are also able to apply, though they are required to submit a fingerprint scan, which they can obtain from Canadian visa application centres such as VFS Global in Warsaw, Poland. Since the site was launched, it has already had more than 54,000 visitors and 9,000 applications, according to a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister.
Between Jan. 1 and March 20, 10,246 Ukrainians nationals, including Canadian permanent residents, arrived in Canada, according to the Canada Border Services Agency.
The federal government has also set up its own separate “Jobs for Ukraine” portal, inviting companies to post work opportunities to a job bank accessible to incoming Ukrainians.
“From ensuring that children can enroll in school to helping parents join our work force, we want every Ukrainian to find peace, stability and community in Canada,” Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, said in a statement.
The new labour pool will also benefit Canadian companies eager to find staff who are otherwise difficult to reach because of complex work visa systems, Mr. Boyko said.
“Everybody’s looking for workers,” Mr. Boyko said. “There are great employees in Ukraine. They speak English, they are highly educated and are very knowledgeable.”
He estimates the program and onboarding will cost from $10,000 to $20,000 an employee. With a goal of bringing a total of 1,000 employees and their families to Canada, the companies expect to pay between $10-million and $20-million, not including salaries.
Mr. Boyko said the companies hope to bring Ukrainians to Canada over the next six months.
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