In an editorial published last week (link), I argued that City Council pay raises should be based on the CPI (link). I will now play devil’s advocate and debate the merits of City Councillors earning a “living wage”.
The annual salary of a Cornwall Ontario City Councillor is about $14,500, which is well below the poverty line. In comparison, a full time minimum wage worker in Ontario is making about $21,000 annually, which is still below the poverty line.
Should elected City Councillors make a living wage? I think the visceral reaction of many people would be a resounding no! Especially if the public is unsatisfied with the performance of their current City Council, or the perception is those who are on City Council are already generally well off.
However when the salary of a politician is not at a living wage it can deter some segments of society from running for political office. This could be detrimental to the very nature of our democracy which is suppose to allow the active participation of all people, as citizens, in politics and civic life. All people means everyone, not just those who are privileged or well off.
Of course politicians should not be in it for the money, however in a true democracy the person who utilizes a food bank or works a minimum wage job should have the same real opportunity to run for office as a business owner, professional, or retired person with a pension. A living wage for City Council would protect this key democratic principal.
What are your thoughts on City Councillors earning a “living wage”?
Resolve: City Councillors should earn a living wage. Will you take the affirmative or the negative in this debate?
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