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Ukrainians find safety and employment in Ontario after fleeing war

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Over the last 100 days, many Ukrainians have fled their home country and have made central Ontario home.

In April, Denys and Anastasiia Mnivets say their city of Chernigov was attacked by Russian troops, which left their neighbourhood in ruins and killed several loved ones.

"Our relatives were there because they just tried to survive in, and they were killed by the bombs," said Anastasiia.

The couple says to stay alive they looked for ways to flee the country.

As days passed, they found a utility truck driver that was carrying Ukrainians to the Poland border.

The couple showed CTV News photos of a crowded truck cargo bed where they say they stood for nearly eight hours with dozens of other people.

"We need to leave this place, and we don't know what to do next," said Anatassiia about the chaos in her city.

Once they arrived in Warsaw, Poland, she says they contacted Denys' aunt in Ontario and began the process to come to Canada.

After having their visas were approved, they jumped on a flight and were en route to the Orillia area, where several Canadian-Ukrainian families welcomed them to Simcoe County.

"We feel safety and feel that everybody wants to support us," said Mnivets.

Over the last three months, the Canadian government has rolled out a three-year open work permit for Ukrainians arriving in Canada and have created a job bank with prospective employers.

Since arriving in Simcoe County, Mnivets have both found work. Denys says he works with a construction company installing windows and doors, and Anastasia assists a local realtor.

"Most that we've seen actually have extensive experience and background. Many IT type people with science and math degrees," said Peter Schturyn, the President of the Canadian Ukrainian Congress.

He noted that many are having no trouble finding work. Although, with refugees and immigrants arriving in Canada and urgently looking for work, it could open the door to employers taking advantage of them, according to an immigration employment expert.

"Exploitive behaviour on the part of some employers," said John Shields, a professor in politics and public administration at Toronto Metropolitan University. "That being, they might not be paid the minimum wage. They probably don't know the labour standards or rights are, and possibly not paid for overtime."

In Simcoe County, immigration services are working to help avoid this from happening to Ukrainians arriving to the area.

On Sunday, they told CTV News that programs provided by employment Ontario have workshops to help new Canadians navigate employment by understanding their rights.

"Job hunting club for immigrants is very much geared to helping people understand job searching and working in a Canadian context," said Sandra Lee, the manager of immigration partnership for the County of Simcoe.

Lee provided data that shows that between 400-500 Ukrainians arrive each day in Canada. To date, she says 35,000 have come since the war began.

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