A Nova Scotian who will soon open her doors to temporarily house a family of Ukrainian refugees is asking the federal government to waive costly medical screening fees upon arrival.
“(They) have spent every penny they have, fleeing their home and flying here. And then all of a sudden they have to come up with another $1,200,” Vanessa Powell said.
Powell participates in a global shelter program that provides temporary housing for Ukrainians forced to flee their homes due to Russia’s war on their country.
As someone who immigrated to Canada herself, she understands the need for an immigration medical exam, but doesn’t think the cost should fall on fleeing refugees.
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“I understand screening. We had to do this before we moved. But to get them paid, or the people who fundraise and support them when they get here, that money, to me, would be much better spent settling them into life in Canada,” she said.
Powell said medical diagnosis and testing for communicable diseases is due within 90 days of arrival and will cost about $280 per person.
She is home to a family of four whose members have been separated since the start of the invasion.
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“I was distracted, unable to concentrate, worried about my family, my two children,” said Bukunmi Damilola Oluwamogbiele, a dual Nigerian and Ukrainian citizen who was away from his family on a work trip when Russia invaded.
“I said to my wife: ‘We have to get out of this, we have to deal with Ukraine by all means.'”
Powell has since contacted his family and will greet them upon arrival under the Canada-Ukraine Emergency Travel Authorization Program, or CAUET.
According to the federal Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, CAUET is the most efficient way for displaced Ukrainians to immigrate to Canada.
A department spokesperson said the requirement for an immigration medical will be waived for open work permit applicants, but other screening fees may still be charged.
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“Instead, they may be required to undergo a medical diagnostic test (chest x-ray or appropriate alternative and blood test) shortly after arriving in Canada,” said Nancy Caron, spokesperson for IRCC.
“If necessary, Ukrainian nationals and their family members will receive instructions for taking a medical diagnostic test once they arrive in Canada. The instructions will explain how to contact a doctor to make an appointment,” Caron said.
Powell said she plans to meet with her elected government officials to discuss waiving fees associated with possible medical diagnostic tests.
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