Helping displaced Ukrainians obtain driver's licences
As large numbers of Ukrainians have sought refuge in Ontario in the wake of Russia’s invasion of their country, Ontario has made efforts to help them settle. However, we recently heard of some having difficulty in obtaining driver’s licences.
One man from a city in Ukraine that had been evacuated told us the Ministry of Transportation would not validate his Ukrainian licence and driving experience without a letter from the Ukrainian government – something he felt would not be feasible due to the war. He was told the letter was required so he could bypass Ontario’s graduated licensing system and obtain a licence immediately.
Ombudsman staff made inquiries with the Ministry and learned that Ukrainians arriving in Canada with “Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel” visitor visas were excluded from existing policies that exempt refugees from certain licence validation requirements.
Ministry officials confirmed they were working on amending the policy to include Ukrainians with these visas. In the interim, our Office helped in these cases by facilitating communication between newly arrived Ukrainians and DriveTest and the Ministry.
The change has now been made, meaning Ukrainians can provide their Ukrainian license and sign a self-declaration to validate their driving experience, instead of a letter of authentication.
On May 11, the man from the evacuated city obtained his driver’s licence after passing a driving test. He now plans to buy a used car, according to his Ontario host, who shared his appreciation with our Office: “Thank you for making a big difference in his life!”