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City committee approves proposed hefty pay increase for London council members

980 CFPL/File Photo

Members of London’s city council may soon be getting a raise.

A proposal to increase councillor salaries by about 30 per cent was approved by the strategic priorities and policy committee Monday night.

Councillors currently receive $36,000 a year. The proposal is to bring their salary in line with the average full-time wage in London, which according to the 2011 census, was $48,000. Statistics Canada is due to release wage data for 2016 in the fall.

READ MORE: Task force recommends raise for London city councillors

“I take a lot of respect with the sensitivity of the recommendation of the working group tying it to the median income. For myself, if I’m putting in over 60 hours a week I can equate it to a living wage in London. It’s fair,” said Ward 13 Coun. Tanya Park.

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Tying councillor salaries to full-time income is concerning for some of the politicians because holding a seat on council is considered a part-time job and a pay raise based on full-time employment could cause some confusion about job expectations.

“I certainly agree with the recommendation that we don’t make any compensation changes for this term. I think we do that moving forward. But, I think if the rate is tied to a median full-time wage, then there’s going to be a public expectation that you’re putting a full-time amount of work in,” said Ward 11 Coun. Stephen Turner.

Turner adds there’s significant challenges to holding full-time employment and holding a seat on council, and says if that expectation is raised, it’s going to affect who would be willing to run for council.

“Do we want people who are putting a part-time effort into this or a full-time focus,” said Ward 1 Coun. Michael van Holst.

On the other hand, Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire doesn’t agree with the idea that councillors work part-time. He says the job may be considered part-time, but they’re putting in full-time effort.

“I’m personally insulted by what I just heard. There’s been several suggestions about the nature of part-time councillors that I find very insulting. They’re not funny. They’re just personally insulting to me,” said Squire.

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The proposal was ultimately approved by a vote of 9-5.

If approved by full council Tuesday, councillor salaries would increase by about $10,000 a year, after the next election.

When compared to other cities across Canada, London councillors ranked last in compensation.

Councillor salaries in London haven’t increased since 2013.

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