Doug Ford takes heat for saying Ontario only wants 'hard working' immigrants
Ontario Premier Doug Ford is being called on to apologize after stating on Monday that, while he welcomes new Canadians, anyone coming from another country to "collect the dole and sit around" should "go somewhere else."
Ford's controversial remarks came in response to a reporter's question about labour issues following a press conference in Tecumseh, Ontario, where he detailed plans this afternoon for a new hospital in Windsor that is being built with help from a $9.8 million government grant.
The premier stressed that his government is supportive of "hard-working union people," pointing to investments in training programs and stating that "we're there for the hard-working folks and men and women that are out there."
Unfortunately, says Ford, there simply aren't enough workers — especially those in skilled trades — to fill all of the vacant positions being created by new infrastructure projects.
"We're in such desperate need of people from around the world," said Ford, noting that his government was reaching out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the issue.
"I can't emphasize it enough. We're short a couple 100,000 people, and not to mention in the trades. We're pouring $144 billion into infrastructure, building hospitals, building schools... But we need people."
Ford then made an apparent plea for workers from other countries, stating:
"Folks, if you have some hard-working people, I just have one criteria: You come here like every other new Canadian has. Come here. You work your tail off. If you think you're coming to collect the dole and sit around, not going to happen, go somewhere else. You want to work? Come here. We have so much work. We can't keep up with it right now."
Ford doubled down on the comment a few minutes later, once again addressing the labour shortage and the possibility of filling it with skilled and unskilled immigrants.
"We need people. I don't care where they come from around the world," he said. "If you're willing to come and work and pay your taxes and give back to the community, we want you."
Ontario Premier Doug Ford says he only wants “hard working” immigrants to come to the province.— ahmarskhan (@AhmarSKhan) October 18, 2021
“If you think you’re coming to collect the dole and sit around — not going to happen.” pic.twitter.com/QzlQSBG2am
Backlash to the comment about immigrants coming to Canada and collecting social assistance ("the dole") was widely condemnatory.
"Doug Ford, a man who's gotten every job in his life through family connections and rarely shows up when he gets them (and who has been MIA through the back half of this pandemic) would like to punch down at an imaginary immigrant strawman for 'collecting the dole'," wrote one Twitter user.
"The f*cking audacity to say this after the most effected population by COVID in Ontario were immigrants who didn't have any f*cking sick days at work so Doug Ford just let them die," wrote another.
Ontario Liberal leader Steven Del Duca responded almost immediately to the remarks, calling Ford's language "divisive" and stating the premier should apologize.
This kind of divisive language is deeply disappointing. A Premier is supposed to unite Ontarians, not wedge us further apart. As a son of immigrants, I know first-hand how people like my parents helped to build Ontario. Doug Ford should apologize for his callous comments. #onpoli https://t.co/BazfwLniyk— Steven Del Duca (@StevenDelDuca) October 18, 2021
NDP and Official Opposition leader Andrea Horwath responded later Monday afternoon.
"Today, Doug Ford chose to traffic in demeaning stereotypes about new Ontarians looking to build a better life for their families," she wrote on Twitter.
"He should apologize. But we've been here before. Sadly, this is who he is. Our diverse, welcoming province deserves better."
The Premier's Office issued a statement in response to the criticism just after 5 p.m. on Monday, emphasizing the importance of fixing Ontario's labour shortage, but offering no apologies.
"There are currently over 290,000 unfilled jobs across the province. While the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program is effective, it's extremely oversubscribed, which is why for the last several years we have been calling on the federal government to increase the amount of economic immigration into the province," reads the statement.
"As the premier reiterated today, like every new Canadian who has built their life here in Ontario, our province is open to anyone and everyone who wants to work hard, support their family and contribute to their community."
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