How can something so loud still go unheard? One of the things that shocked me the most when I came to London was the stark wealth disparity in the city. Driving through some of the more affluent neighbourhoods, you forget that just on downtown Dundas is a completely different view. Recently an article was published that put into perspective just how real this problem is.
There’s poverty in every city, but not to the extent it appears in London compared to other cities of the same size. Poverty is measured as living below the “low income measure” (LIM) after tax. LIM is half the average Canadian’s income and
- For one adult without children, the LIM is $17,824 per year
- For one adult with two children, the LIM is $30, 301 per year
- For two adults and two children, the LIM is $35, 648 per year
In London, 11,000 people are categorized as the “working poor” which means their income is below the LIM. You can have a job and still not make enough to live comfortably. London also has the second highest rate of working poor in Ontario. London is on the higher end of the spectrum for the percentage of low income households in Ontario, being 2 per cent above the provincial average. However, it gets worse. Extreme poverty is another issue in London. Extreme poverty is determined by halving the low income measure.
Poverty does not affect everyone equally. Poverty is just one of the symptoms of a legacy of unequal systems and oppression. The Mayor’s report London For All: A Roadmap to End Poverty (2016) found that indigenous peoples and newcomers are bearing the brunt. Around 41 per cent of indigenous people in London live with low income, while 21 per cent of newcomers live with low income. Other Londoners most likely to experience poverty are lone-parent families, children and youth, people with disabilities or mental health issues, older adults, and the LGBTQ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer).
Even though multiple groups are affected, geographically London follows a pattern. Research done by Global News maps income and postal code. It is a useful resource for getting a glimpse into Canada’s richest and poorest neighourhoods. In London, it’s no surprise Masonville and Westmount area have higher incomes while the stretch between Adelaide St. and Highbury has the lowest. The concentration of low incomes in the East could be a result of a once-booming manufacturing and industrial strip that has moved out of the neighbourhood with no replacement.
The darker shades of purple show the higher income brackets, while the lighter shades of purple denote the lower income brackets.
It is important to note that while it may seem like poverty hangs in the background of London – many are aware of it. In fact, it has recently made its way into the day-to-day conversation of Londoners. With efforts such as the Mayor’s panel on poverty and the Poverty Over London awareness campaign, more people are talking about the issue instead of ignoring it. As the conversation flows, solutions start pouring in.