Don't Turn Back Progress: responding to City Council rolling back min wage

The London Poverty Research Centre at King’s (LPRC) is disappointed in City Council’s decision not to increase the minimum wage for city workers to $15/hr.  It flies in the face of efforts by the Mayor’s Poverty Panel, and the London For All response, to address the root causes of poverty – namely low wages. The London For All report, which was unanimously passed by council in 2016, had clear direction for creating and encouraging employers to adopt a living wage. This wage was calculated at $15.53/hour in 2016.  Why would City Council endorse one idea for employers, yet not see that they need to take some leadership on this issue? Does it make sense to keep addressing the symptoms of poverty while doing nothing to address root causes?

Through our research on precarious employment (low wage, unstable, lack of benefits, part-time, etc.) we have pointed out and made it very public that nearly 50% of working Londoners are working in precarious or vulnerable work situations. Further, people experiencing such work are more likely to experience physical and mental health challenges, family stress, and also lack the ability to participate in community life. The challenge before us is to shift our labour market and employment norms to align more with decent work allowing our city to flourish rather than flounder and become more polarized.

An inadequate wage is a leading cause of poverty.  And the city had already allotted the money for the pay increase.  Here, the city had a perfect opportunity to take a leadership role, highlighting the importance of a living wage for reducing poverty in our city and calling businesses to follow in their footsteps. Apparently, some on City Council were concerned about the precedent it would set.  They should have been proud to set a precedent for fairer wages in London.

For further information contact:

Glen Pearson                                                  Michael Courey                                                         

Board Member, LPRC@King’s                       Centre Coordinator, LPRC@King’s

glen@glenpearson.ca                                     michael@povertyresearch.ca

519-859-6582                                                 226-926-0360