Ukraine hopes Mobility Working Group can lead to visa-free regime

Marco Levytsky, NP-UN National Affairs Editor.

Ukraine hopes that the newly-created Mobility Working Group will lead to progress on many other issues in addition to a Youth Mobility Agreement between Canada and Ukraine, says Ukraine’s Ambassador to Canada.

“One goal is to arrive at a visa-free regime between Ukraine and Canada – just like Canada has with U.S. and Mexico, and Ukraine has with the EU. That is why we opened Ukraine for Canadian visitors who can come to Ukraine without visas. This is why we are ready to work hard to make sure we remove all the travel barriers,” Andriy Shevchenko told participants at the Canada-Ukraine Mobility Working Group Webinar, March 23.

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, on January 27 announced the establishment of a new Canada-Ukraine Mobility Working Group, to identify and improve mobility opportunities for Ukrainians seeking to come to Canada, once COVID-19 restrictions are removed, while continuing to ensure the integrity of our respective migration and visa frameworks.

This mobility working group is a unique partnership between the Canadian and Ukrainian governments that will let Canada and Ukraine share best practices on migration management, increase recruitment, promote Canada’s economic immigration programs and further strengthen co-operation on migration-related matters.

Through this group, Canada and Ukraine will also work together to finalize a youth mobility agreement that will provide Canadian and Ukrainian youth with opportunities to travel, once COVID-19 restrictions are removed.

“Through generations of Ukrainians who have made Canada their home, the Ukrainian-Canadian community continues to make outstanding contributions to Canada’s economy, our society and our diverse cultural fabric. The unique partnership that we are announcing today will serve to further strengthen the deep-rooted, people-to-people ties between our 2 countries,” Mendicino said in making the announcement.

The minister joined Shevchenko at the webinar, which was sponsored by the National Office of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC)and opened by giving the background to the announcement of the working group.

“Our plan is to use the working group to facilitate regular dialogue, to chart out and implement common objectives and to hold regular meetings once time comes and we can travel again,” he stated, adding that hosting will alternate these meetings will alternate between Canada and Ukraine.

Asked by New Pathway – Ukrainian News what some of the tangible results of the agreement could be, Mendicino replied: “Expansion of economic ties and opportunities that can be enjoyed by the exchange of young people who are looking to broaden their horizons with work abroad in our respective countries. We know that we live in an increasingly interconnected world where the global economy is very competitive. We see that there is a very practical advantage to creating a forum that will lead to an agreement that will see a more fluid exchange between our two peoples.”

Shevchenko said the agreement” creates a very new context for our cooperation in some other fields like security, making sure that we can fight crime together making sure that we can fight international crime together.”

“We are very determined to make this group very efficient and we will make sure that we will work together in a very respectful manner understanding the complexity of the issues recognizing the differences that we approach, but with a very clear common goal in sight,” he added.

Mendicino was also asked whether language requirements would be less stringent if the immigrants in question have been asked to work in a Ukrainian community environment where language is not a requirement.

Mendicino replied that language requirements are set to facilitate integration and aligned according to the occupation that the newcomer is hoping to fill.

Asked what can be done for COPR (Confirmation Of Permanent Residence) who were stuck in Ukraine due to the pandemic, Mendicino replied the government has reached out to them and, in some cases, extended their visas.

The questions were fielded by Ihor Michalchyshyn, Executive Director of UCC National.
The speakers were introduced by Etobicoke-Centre MP and Chair of the Canada-Ukraine Parliamentary Friendship Group Yvan Baker, who underlined that there is so much opportunity for Canada and Ukraine to work closer together that he hopes we address this potential.

UCC National President Alexandra Chyczij served as host and wrapped up the webinar by commenting that Ukrainians and Canadians are bound by much more than family and friendship.

“Ukrainian and Canadians are bound together by the fundamental principle that all people have the right to self-determination, to liberty and peace. And that’s why support for Ukraine has never been a partisan issue in Canada. Our support and commitment are based on something far more important than politics. It’s based on shared humanity. And it is in that spirit that the UCC will continue to work and represent our community and to grow the already strong ties between Canada and Ukraine.