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‘Probably any day’: Officials prepare for arrival of Ukrainians in Waterloo Region

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Waterloo Region officials say it’s no longer a matter if Ukrainians will arrive in the area, but when.

Local groups are preparing to welcome them when they do.

Father Myroslav Tataryn of the Ukranian Catholic Church of Transfiguration says the process of getting Ukrainians to Canada has moved at “warp speed.”

His church gearing up to quickly help women and children who fled that country.

“It's not only a matter of getting them here,” Tataryn said. “It's a matter of being ready to receive them and what's needed.”

Tataryn says those wanting to help Ukrainians coming to Canada can sign up at this link.

Last week, Canada announced two new ways for Ukrainians to quickly enter Canada – an emergency travel permit and a special family reunification sponsorship. The federal government is promising applications will be processed in two weeks.

“I do know of a number of families [here in Canada] who have already heard from their relatives who are in Poland, who are waiting to come,” Tataryn said. “Most of them haven't gotten visas yet. [But] they've applied so they're in the pipelines, So that's very promising.”

'The first time I'm seeing this type of response'

Local officials say the federal government hasn't said how many Ukrainians will arrive in Waterloo Region – only that it's happening soon.

“Probably any day,” said Tara Bedard, the Executive Director for Immigration Partnership for the Region of Waterloo.

“We're really in a unique situation,” Bedard continued. “This is the first time I'm seeing this type of response so we really are just trying to work with our partners across the region to be ready to welcome people.”

Waterloo Region is known to welcome refugees, most recently from war-torn countries like Afghanistan and Syria.

In a statement sent earlier this week to CTV News, the interim CEO of Reception House said the organization was already expecting double the number of government assisted refugees this year from other conflicts excluding the war in Ukraine. It could be as many 750 people.

The statement highlighted there are now major concerns, like the lack of affordable housing.

Bedard says, it's an issue they are working on.

“[We’re] just shaking all the trees. You know landlords who have availability that will come forward for this population and others who are looking for housing.”

Father Tataryn agrees, saying charitable support and solidarity is needed for all those escaping conflict.

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