The first government-chartered group of Ukrainian refugees seeking shelter in Newfoundland and Labrador is en route to St. John’s.
The flight is expected to touch down at St. John’s International Airport just before 7 p.m. NT after taking off from the Polish city of Katowice. A total of 166 refugees are on board, according to Premier Andrew Furey.
The flight, chartered by the province’s Immigration Department, is part of rescue efforts first launched by the provincial government in March, which established a satellite office in Warsaw to help Ukrainians fleeing Russian attacks resettle in the province.
The office worked with the incoming Ukrainians to sort out details like obtaining passports, visas, and transportation.
Immigration Minister Gerry Byrne insisted Monday’s flight is the first government-chartered plane bringing Ukrainian refugees to Canada, although thousands have already landed on Canadian soil since the Russian invasion in February.
Canada Border Services Agency data reveals over 19,000 Ukrainian arrivals in Canada so far this year, as Ottawa contends with a flood of applications from those seeking asylum. The federal government has approved over 90,000 temporary visa applications since mid-March.
In St. John’s, both Furey and Byrne will form part of the Newfoundland and Labrador’s welcoming party, along with local employers and non-profit groups like the Association for New Canadians.
The provincial immigration minister previously told CBC News that some of the people on the flight have already found work, starting their new jobs as early as Tuesday morning.