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Alberta support for arriving Ukrainians to top $30M

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More than 26,000 Ukrainians have now resettled in Alberta since the Russian invasion began last year and on Tuesday Premier Danielle Smith announced more money to help them.

Alberta's new budget promises an additional $2.1 million for pre-arrival services and a centralized help desk. With a UCP majority, it is expected to pass.

That's on top of the $28 million the province has already committed to help Ukrainian evacuees resettle.

"Thanks to the efforts of so many tireless volunteers in addition to work by our government, Ukrainian newcomers have access to numerous resources available to them to integrate into communities across Alberta smoothly and successfully,” Smith said during an announcement in Mundare, east of Edmonton.

After apologizing in October for "ill-advised comments on Russia's invasion of Ukraine," Smith appointed an Advisory Task Force on Ukraine.

One of the issues that group heard was that some people arriving from Ukraine were having challenges navigating "complex applications and programs."

The new help desk is intended to help evacuees "get timely, accurate information in the language of their choosing."

“The task force has done crucial work in uncovering gaps in supports for Ukrainian evacuees," said Minister of Trade, Immigration and Multiculturalism Rajan Sawhney.

"It also ensured we are providing support where it will have the biggest impact. As a government, we have a responsibility to get this right for these evacuees, and the advice from the task force is ensuring we do.”

Roughly one-quarter of all Ukrainian refugees coming to Canada are moving to Alberta.

Community members have also stepped up to assist Ukraine, including former premier Ed Stelmach, who is on the task force and was at Tuesday's announcement.

Last year he and former MLA Thomas Lukaszuk led an effort to send a jumbo jet of aid supplies to the war-torn country.

"You try to do as much as you can. You know you won’t alleviate the whole situation," he told CTV News Edmonton.

He believes the hotline will help.

"We’ll have this one number as a command centre, but then people there will direct to their respective agencies," Stelmach said.

The province will also continue to lobby the federal government for more support for Ukrainian newcomers.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk

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