B.C. ready to welcome Ukrainian refugees

Premier John Horgan said preliminary work is already being done to welcome Ukrainian refugees in B.C., but that it remains unclear how many could eventually settle in the province.

Horgan told reporters Thursday he’s been in touch with the Prime Minister’s Office since Ottawa announced expedited streams to help Ukrainians fleeing the war come to Canada on both a temporary and permanent basis.

“I’m confident that British Columbians are ready, willing and able to absorb as many Ukrainian refugees as we possibly can,” Horgan said at a news conference.

Much of that work happens at the grassroots level, with agencies helping refugees settle, find housing and get work. The premier pointed out the influx comes with a cost.

“We’re going to be continuing to fund those organizations as we have in the past and offering whatever guidance we can to the federal government about what numbers we can absorb here in B.C.”

At the Ukrainian Cultural Centre in Victoria, the office manager told CTV News the phones are ringing off the hook.

Victoria Grando said may people want to know when the refugees are coming.

“Everyone wants to help, we have already many names that would like to greet and get the refugees from Ukraine,” she said in an interview.

Grando has relatives in Ukraine who are desperate to leave, and have made their way to Kyiv in a car. The goal now is to cross the border, something she knows some male relatives won’t be able to do.

“We’re just completely drained. We haven’t slept,” she said.

Grando said she’s consumed with finding out if her family is OK and then trying to help – a task that continues, for now.

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