BC premier urges patience as Ukrainian refugees head to Canada – Penticton Western News

The British Columbia government is examining its options for temporary housing and trauma counseling for thousands of refugees from the war in Ukraine, Premier John Horgan said Friday.

The numbers are not yet known as the federal government is working with European countries to deal with an estimated 2.5 million people who have fled Ukraine as Russian armed forces continue to bomb and invade its cities. Horgan met with representatives of the Ukrainian community and settlement organizations this week and spoke with other prime ministers to discuss needs.

They’re reporting a huge outpouring of public support, more than they can keep up with, and the province is establishing a toll-free phone number to help match aid to needs, Horgan said. Women and children are probably most of the refugees who will come to Canada, and they need housing as well as medical assistance.

“If you don’t get a callback, if you don’t get a response to your email, it’s not because the need isn’t there,” Horgan told reporters in Victoria on March 11. “It’s because, frankly, the volunteers are overwhelmed.”

For accommodation, options for using student residences and off-season spaces in ski resorts are being studied. Premiers and federal officials agreed that translation services are essential, so that social workers and doctors can help. Horgan said Canadian immigration authorities are still dealing with refugees who fled the civil war in Syria, its dictator also backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We ask for patience from the general public as we put in place an infrastructure to accept the kindness and generosity of British Columbians towards the brave and gracious people of Ukraine who are enduring the most unimaginable horrors at a time when we thought that kind of activity was behind us,” Horgan said. “I reinforce what I believe is the view of all British Columbians that Vladimir Putin should step down, step back and get the hell out of Ukraine.”

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