Living wage: $16.20 an hour London’s new get-by benchmark

By Randy Richmond November 5, 2019

Londoners need to make $16.20 an hour just to get by, according to the latest living wage calculations.

But that won’t allow people to save money or pay down debt.

And in the midst of a jobs, housing and poverty crisis in the city, a network that encouraged employers to adopt the living wage has faded away.

“The living wage is a very practical tool to reduce poverty in the city,” said Michael Courey, co-ordinator of the London Poverty Research Centre at King’s University College in London.

“When a family is going through economic strains, without being able to make ends meet, this has a larger impact into the community. People are trying to deal with the stress of a very insecure economic situation and that can lead into homelessness and addiction.”

A London Free Press series, Face It, has explored jobs and housing in London, with its next focus life on the street.

The living wage is based on the local costs of food, housing, phone, internet service, transportation and several other essentials.

It’s different than the legislated minimum wage, which is $14 an hour in Ontario, and is supposed to allow for more than mere survival.

The roughly $2 difference between the living wage and minimum wage would give an individual about $4,000 more a year and a family of four with two adults working about $8,000 more a year.

“That can make a very big difference,” Courey said.

But many families, especially those with low income and precarious jobs, probably have to pay down debt, or would like to save money for the long term, he said.

“The current living wage doesn’t hold that in there. You are still not living a luxurious life.”

Based on a 35-hour work week, the living wage in London would provide a before-tax annual income of about $29,000.