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Immigrants are not here to live off the system

Originally published November 21, 2021 -

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s statement about immigrants coming to Ontario to live off the dole was very frustrating.

The fact that he refuses to apologize is also revealing his own biases. I think the Premier and the people he would consider his base, are not on the same page, for often I hear those very people griping that immigrants are coming here and taking their jobs.

However, it cannot be both ways. Immigrants are either coming here with the sole purpose of living for free off the public purse or they are coming here and being so extremely efficient and productive that they are almost immediately employed. While I agree that my reason is simplifying a complex problem, I would ask the Premier whether he is doing the same thing.

The difference is that the Premier can affect how people think and even how they react; and his statement, therefore, can easily be construed as extremely prejudicial, appallingly uninformed and encouraging false or negative stereotypes.

This type of rhetoric then serves to fuel varying degrees of dislike, mistrust and downright hate targeted at immigrants by those who perceive them as parasites and freeloaders. If I did not know differently, then I too might believe that the Premier just spoke about something which he can back up with hard data. I would then base my reaction accordingly.

Leaders need to be very attentive to what they say. In an increasingly divided world, we must call out leaders who attempt to divide us. Without referring to any factual data the Premier made an accusation just because it made for a good sound byte.

In the meantime, immigrants, immigrant-serving organizations, and everyone who has even a small inkling of the truth, now must spend their time debunking a negative stereotypical statement classifying immigrants as being attracted to Ontario only because they can live freely off the public purse.

These types of baseless indictments against immigrants enter the public psyche and then gets systematized in people's interactions. The person who legitimately needs helps gets turned down for assistance or is victimized because the Premier said that “he’s a freeloader.” We all must recognize and challenge these negative stereotypes against immigrants. They only serve to create divisiveness and stir up the political base and they must stop.

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