OCASI Statement: Elected Leaders Must Do Better – Stand Against Racism and Xenophobia



Toronto / June 4, 2024

OCASI strongly condemns the anti-immigrant and anti-refugee sentiments expressed last week by Ontario Premier Ford in his comments regarding a school shooting in Toronto. These sentiments stereotype and scapegoat refugees and immigrants, and only serve to deepen existing xenophobia, and divide rather than unite. Words matter, especially from heads of government and elected leaders.

OCASI calls on Premier Ford and all elected leaders to recognize the inherent dignity and self-worth of immigrants and refugees, in their words as well as their actions, and work to build social cohesion and safety for everyone.

We are once again seeing an increase in anti-immigrant and anti-refugee attitudes in Canada, closely linked with racial discrimination. Immigrants and refugees are targeted and blamed for everything – from inflation to housing unaffordability, to food insecurity and violent crime. At the same time, they are actively recruited for the exorbitant tuition they are required to pay as international students, which is used to finance the growth of post-secondary institutions and programs to the benefit of domestic students. They are exploited as low-waged migrant workers with few rights and almost no protection against exploitation and abuse. They are seen as the answer to address an aging demographic and fill skills shortages and labour market needs.

Treating immigrants and refugees as scapegoats will not solve any of these urgent and critical challenges. Instead it will present the real danger of creating deep divides and prevent us from working together to solve problems.

Today and every day let us stand together against racism, hate, xenophobia and bigotry.