Premier Doug Ford said Tuesday that the provincial New Democrats — who he called "socialists" — had "destroyed" the city of Hamilton along with the former Liberal government "for years."
And the Premier then said credit for the city's improving economy should go to local Conservative MPP Donna Skelly and his government.
The comments were in response to a friendly question during question period about economic activity and investments in the city from Skelly, MPP for Flamborough-Glanbrook.
"Hamilton has been ignored. It has been run by the NDP — the socialists — who destroyed the city for years," Ford said in response. "Now these companies are flowing into Hamilton, because of our great MPP."
NDP leader and Hamilton MPP Andrea Horwath said Ford appeared not to know the city.
"I think Hamilton's a great city," said Horwath, after the session at Queen's Park. "And I guess the Premier's got to wake up and have a look at how great it really is."
Watch Premier Ford's comments during question period:
Ford claimed the NDP and the former Liberal government under Kathleen Wynne "ran 300,000 manufacturing jobs" out of the province, and that his Conservative government was "creating 272,000 new manufacturing jobs."
He did not go into specifics regarding the two contrasting numbers.
The Premier also listed a number of new investments in the city including Corbec Steel's plans to build their first Ontario factory there, which Ford said would bring "anywhere from" a $50 million to $100 million investment to Hamilton and create 100 new jobs.
However, the federal Liberal government has also contributed to Hamilton's economic growth, with a $50 million investment at Stelco in August to modernize its facilities and make them more sustainable.
Federal Liberals also committed almost $50 million for a $205 million plan from ArcelorMittal Canada Inc. aimed at modernizing the Hamilton steelmaker.
Long time in the making, problems remain
Hamilton's economic growth has been long in the making before Conservatives took over at Queen's Park.
The city has had one of the hottest real estate markets in the country over parts of the last decade and has had its arts scene heralded across the province.
In 2012, the city issued a record $1.5 billion worth of building permits, a figure heralded by then-Mayor Bob Bratina as a sign that Hamilton was making "great progress" in terms of its economic fortunes.
The city's investment in building permits also surpassed the $1 billion mark for the fourth time in five years in 2014, which benefited residential, commercial, industrial and institutional sectors — and many of the expansions were local companies.
Growth has continued to steadily increase since then. Officials in Hamilton celebrated a record-breaking, economic milestone this August: hitting $1 billion in building permits in just eight months.
In the preamble to her question Skelly said, "For many people in my city, the pursuit of economic opportunity meant having to leave," later describing a "flurry" of economic activity in Hamilton since the Conservatives formed government, with "close to $900 million pledged for projects."
According to the Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP, that includes $100 million for a DHL airport cargo expansion, the launch of Panattoni's $30-million Aeropark warehouse, a $40-million expansion of the Mondolez candy plant, and a $700-million pending deal to reinvent the Hamilton City Centre.
The office of the Mayor of Hamilton and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce did not immediately respond to request for comment.
While Hamilton continues to see incremental progress in areas of economic development and employment, a Vital Signs report from last year stated "inequalities remain significant" in the city and some residents have been left at a larger disadvantage.
The Hamilton Community Foundation looked at quality of life in 10 areas including the arts, economy, education, health, safety, housing, environment and citizen engagement.
In 2018, almost 15 per cent of Hamiltonians reported experiencing some food insecurity with 4.2 per cent reporting severe food insecurity. In spite of progress made reducing child poverty, the Hamilton rate remained above provincial averages, according to the report.
And housing affordability is also a quickly growing concern for residents, given that home prices in the Hamilton area skyrocketed 70 per cent from 2014 to 2018, according to a report last year from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA).