A Nova Scotian who will soon be opening her doors to temporarily host a Ukrainian refugee family is calling on the federal government to waive costly medical screening fees upon their arrival.
“(They) have spent every penny that they’ve got, fleeing from their home, and getting flights here. And then all of the sudden, they’ve got to find another $1,200,” Vanessa Powell said.
Powell is participating in a global hosting program that provides temporary housing for Ukrainians forced to flee their homes because of Russia’s war on their country.
As someone who immigrated to Canada herself, she understands the necessity of having an immigration medical exam but doesn’t feel the cost should fall on the shoulders of fleeing refugees.
“I understand the screening. We had to do it before we moved over. But to make them pay for it, or the people who are fundraising and supporting them when they get here — that money, for me, would be much better used getting them settled into life in Canada,” she said.
Powell said the medical diagnostic and communicable disease screening is due within 90 days of their arrival and will cost about $280 per person.
She’s hosting a family of four whose members have been separated since the invasion began.
“I was distracted, unable to concentrate, worried for my family, my two kids,” Bukunmi Damilola Oluwamogbiele said, a dual citizen of Nigeria and Ukraine who was away from his family on a work trip when Russia invaded.
“I told my wife, ‘We have to make it out — we have to make it of Ukraine by any means.'”
Powell has since connected with his family and will host them when they arrive through the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel 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 exam will be waived for open work permit applicantsy, but other screening fees may still be required.
“Instead, they may be required to complete a medical diagnostic test (chest x-ray, or suitable alternative, and blood test) soon after arriving in Canada,” said Nancy Caron, an IRCC spokesperson.
“If required, Ukrainian nationals and their family members will receive instructions to take a medical diagnostic test once they arrive in Canada. The instructions will explain how to contact a physician to book an appointment,” Caron said.
Powell said she plans on meeting with her elected government officials to discuss waiving any fees associated with possible medical diagnostic tests.