Scotiabank Donation to displaced Ukrainians arriving in Canada under the “Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel”


As part of the Government of Canada’s resolute support to Ukrainians, the Canada-Ukraine authorization for emergency travel (CUAET) was introduced in March 2022 to support the people of Ukraine by offering Ukrainians a temporary status and ability to work, study and stay in Canada until it is safe for them to return home. As of November 28, 2023, a total of 210,178 displaced Ukrainians have arrived under CUAET program in Canada.

Additionally, recognizing Canadians’ generosity and the interest expressed by Canadian businesses in supporting Canada’s response to the crisis in Ukraine, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) launched the Canadian Industry for Ukraine donation portal in early May 2022. The program enables businesses to donate high-priority goods and services, and funding to support displaced Ukrainians and other displaced people in need who are making Canada their home.

This report elaborates on management of the Scotiabank donation as guided by Operation Ukrainian Safe Haven – Opération havre de paix pour les Ukrainiens’s (OUSH-OHPU) Corporate Donation Manual, the allocation and distribution of donations informed by data, along with impact stories from the ground.

This report is also available in PDF format.

Distribution Process

On July 20, 2023, Scotiabank made a generous donation of $100,000 to support displaced Ukrainians and other newcomers with immediate needs. The donation was used to purchase gift cards to address the immediate needs of displaced Ukrainians. Starting in April 2023, food insecurity has been stressed as one of the challenges of displaced Ukrainians by the national steering committee of the operation and the provincial and territorial umbrella partners, this donation was earmarked to support the distribution of gift cards for groceries to the service provider organizations involved at arrival hotels.

OUSH-OHPU worked with eleven provincial and territorial coordinating partners to allocate and coordinate the donation (see Annex 1 for Corporate Donation Process Map). To ensure equity between provinces and territories, the donation was allocated based on available data including Financial Assistance data from Employment and Social Development Canada which provides percentages of displaced Ukrainians who applied for financial assistance in each province or territory. In coordination with the provincial and territorial partners, the settlement agencies distributed the donated items to displaced Ukrainians in their communities.

Provincial and Territorial Coordinators, alternatively known as Provincial Territorial Hub (PT Hub) coordinators, play a key role as essential sector partners. They contribute significantly to needs assessment, provincial allocation, and the seamless distribution of donations within their respective provinces. OUSH-OHPU maintains a close collaboration with PT Hub coordinators, convening biweekly meetings at the PT Hub Coordination Table. The table plays important role in implementing a collective response effort to support displaced Ukrainians in Canada.

The table below illustrates the allocation process which is based on the Financial Assistance from Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) in each province indicating percentages of displaced Ukrainians in the provinces, to ensure equity in the allocation between provinces and territories.

ESDC, Financial Assistance (data from June 14, 2023) (%)20.7810.0810.911.811.472.4039.480.149.942.950.04
# Mastercard Gift Cards308740527037329600
# Loblaws Gift Cards119136235340514510111640

Our Approach: together with its provincial and territorial coordinating partners, OUSH-OHPU implemented the approach to ensure Scotiabank’s generous donation is directed towards meeting the basic needs while taking into account accessibility for the intended clients.

Meeting the basic needs.

Scotiabank donation was utilized to address the basic needs of displaced Ukrainians in Canada. To facilitate an impactful distribution, the fund was used to purchase gift cards. All cards were standardized to a $50 denomination, ensuring the efforts contribute to requirements of the recipient clients.

Ensuring accessibility.

In order to facilitate clients’ access to stores where they could purchase immediate needs, two types of cards were selected: Loblaw Companies gift cards and Blackhawk MasterCard. The two types of cards were identified by taking into account availability of the stores as well as distance between the stores and the clients’ reception centres in each province.

Securing Discounts and Donations.

OUSH-OHPU negotiated with the two companies to secure discounts in order to maximize the number of clients for each of this donation. As a result, Loblaw Companies provided 5% discount and long with additional $5,000 in 100 gift cards; and Blackhawk Network provided a reduced issuance fee of $1.50 CAD per card instead of the standard $6.10 CAD issuance fee per card. These discounts covered for transaction costs that were incurred during the shipment process as well as effectively increased the number of gift cards.

These initiatives not only stretched the value of the fund but also exemplified collaborative efforts to enhance the reach of the assistance. By leveraging partnerships and negotiating discounts, OUSH has amplified the impact of Scotiabank’s fund.

In total, OUSH purchased 2,086 gift cards, strategically divided into 885 MasterCards and 1,201 LCL gift cards. The cumulative value of these cards amounted to $104,300. This figure incorporates both the 5% discount and the $5,000 addition (100 gift cards).

Following the shipment of gift cards to provincial and territorial coordinating partners by OUSH-OHPU, these partners then proceeded to distribute the cards to the pertinent settlement agencies in their respective provinces. Settlement agencies across various communities in Canada then took charge of distributing these gift cards to displaced Ukrainians and other individuals facing displacement and in need across the country.

Gift cards were mailed to 19 service provider organizations that distributed gift cards to displaced Ukrainians and other displaced people across all provinces.

Distribution Visualization

The interactive map visualizes the impact of the donation and its reach everywhere in Canada.

In total, 2,086 gift cards were distributed to displaced Ukrainians throughout the country:

  • By 19 settlement agencies in all Canadian provinces
  • In 18 different cities/communities
  • From larger cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, to smaller centres
  • Approximately 3,427 individuals benefited from those gift cards (Based on the hypothesis that each family received 1.4 gift cards, and that the average family unit of displaced Ukrainians is composed of 2.3 people (number from OUSH-OHPU’s recent survey on CUAET holders), the estimated number of beneficiaries of the Scotiabank donation is 3,427 displaced Ukrainians and other displaced people in Canada.)

The Impact "in their words..."

These stories showcase a variety of perspectives: hearing from displaced Ukrainians themselves, from the volunteers lending a hand, and the settlement workers coordinating donations on the ground.

Due to financial limitations, the videos are not professionally produced; however, they will be shared on OUSH-OHPU’s online platforms, including web and social media. Given the sensitive nature of Russia’s full-scale illegal invasion of Ukraine, we offered participants the opportunity to refrain from revealing their identities.

This video is intended to give donors a further sense of the impact of corporate donations in supporting displaced Ukrainians, including the reach of the donation.

Recognition and Communications

In collaboration with the Scotiabank, OUSH-OHPU disseminated a press release in English and French Languages, announcing the generous contribution acknowledging its significance in addressing the food insecurity.

Furthermore, the news of this generous donation was disseminated across OUSH-OHPU’s social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).

The OUSH-OHPU National Steering Committee recognized the Scotiabank contribution during its biweekly meeting where around 100 representatives from Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments, Settlement Sector and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress convene to link resources and bridge communications for a successful collective response to supporting Ukrainians in Canada.


Thank you, Merci Scotiabank! ДЯКУЮ!

Operation Ukrainian Safe Haven – Opération havre de paix pour les Ukrainiens (OUSH-OHPU), the Government of Canada, provincial and territorial coordinating partners and settlement agencies would like to join their voices to those of the displaced Ukrainians to thank Scotiabank for their generous donation and the impact it has had in the lives of displaced people in need. Дякую!

Corporate Donations Process Map