Wynne criticizes Ford over 'take care of our own' comment

  TORONTO -- Doug Ford is facing criticism for suggesting Ontario has to "take care of our own" before pushing for immigrants to move to northern Ontario.Premier Kathleen Wynne said the Progressive Conservative leader will have to explain exactly what he meant by the comment, which she said was "very disturbing".

During Friday's northern debate, Ford said the government would have to exhaust every option for employing locals before relying on immigrants to fill jobs in sparsely populated areas.

Both Wynne and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said they would consider an immigration pilot project to combat population decline and draw workers to the northern reaches of the province.

Wynne said that in a country where everyone except Indigenous people are immigrants, she doesn't know who Ford considers "our own."

Meantime, Horwath called Ford's comments on immigration "worrisome" not only for herself but for the northern municipal leaders who hosted the debate.

"I have to say I was a little bit shocked," she said Saturday. "I've heard that language used by people who are suggesting that newcomers are not welcome in the province or in our country and that's not an opinion that I share."

She added that Ford's response showed he did not understand what the municipal leaders were saying with their question on facilitating immigration to the region.

"They want more newcomers in their communities, they want to ensure the local economy has more skilled workers and more population," she said.

"While the municipal leaders were basically saying, 'Let's find the way to roll out the red carpet and welcome newcomers in,' Mr. Ford's comments seemed to be completely opposite of what they were asking for."

Michael Coteau, a Liberal MPP for a Toronto riding, called on Ford to address the comments on Saturday morning.

"I found PC Leader Doug Ford's comments on immigrants insulting," he said. "As an immigrant myself I took it personal, but also as a resident of this great city that's been built on a strong immigrant past. Our economy continues to be built on immigration. I find he doesn't really understand what makes this country great."

A spokesman for Ford said Saturday morning that the Tory leader was not immediately available for comment.